Oh, Old Navy. Make It Better.

by Marinka on May 31, 2011

Last week I fell a little bit more in love with Old Navy. I’ve always been a fan, but when I read that they were launching a line of gay pride t-shirts, donating 10% of the proceeds to It Gets Better, my respect for them increased.

Awesome, right?

Even though it’s a little (or a lot) shocking that this is a first time that a major retailer has done something like this.

Is homosexuality and the fact that people love who they love and it’s okay so controversial?

Apparently it is.

Because it looks like Old Navy will have the t-shirts available for sale in only 26 of its over 900 stores in the United States.

Please don’t make me do the math, but that seems like a low percentage.

I don’t want to detract from the very important step that Old Navy is taking. They are the first major retailer to do it, so let’s cut them some slack.

On the other hand, since three of the twenty-six stores are in Manhattan, the site of the largest gay pride parade in the country, I have to wonder.

Why wouldn’t Old Navy make a corporate statement and have all their stores carry it?

Because I’m guessing that the kids in Savannah would like one as much as the kids in NYC would.

What do you think? Am I just in a mood?

One year ago ...

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{ 37 comments… read them below or add one }

Vicki
Twitter:
May 31, 2011 at 11:38 am

Let’s see. If I’m Old Navy, where can I make more money selling Gay Pride shirts?New York City, or Kansas City? Especially since being gay-proud is “trendy” right now, what with those darn Glee kids and It Gets Better and all. If I’m Old Navy, do I care about the gays? Sure! They make me tons of money.

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Yuliya
Twitter:
May 31, 2011 at 11:57 am

You are such an economist. Vicki is right no matter what color you are -green, rainbow, it’s all about the dollar dollar billz yo.

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Bill
Twitter:
May 31, 2011 at 9:51 pm

Well, I agree with Vicki to a point. They’re definitely shooting to make money, but at least they’re using a positive vehicle. They could be marketing pro-marijuana-use shirts in SoCal for the profits, or pro-shooting-wolves-from-helicopters in Alaska, but they’re choosing this path likely due to management philosophy. It’s a small step for Old Navy, but definitely a large step for our society.

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amy
Twitter:
May 31, 2011 at 11:38 am

I also thought this was an incredible thing for Old Navy to do. They might be trying the shirt out at their A stores and see how well it sells and then release it to the other 874. I for one would love to see it.

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Marta
Twitter:
May 31, 2011 at 11:40 am

Completely agree, and why wouldn’t they sell it online where everyone can access it??? According to their FB page you can call one of the stores that does carry it and have them send it to you for a $7 shipping charge.

They’re selling at the MOA in Minnesota so there’s one store near me luckily!

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Kati
Twitter:
May 31, 2011 at 11:40 am

I agree! Here in Savannah we have at least 2 “gay clubs” that I know of, and a large “Act Out” group downtown. And probably more open-minded people than one might expect.
But I suspect Old Navy is afraid of controversy in some places so they figured it was best to only sell these shirts where they’d be well-received. OR, they did it from a purely financial standpoint and just looked at where they’d make the most money.
Either way, I think they should have made at least a few hundred available in every store.

Will they at least have them online for those who want one and aren’t in a “chosen area”?

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Jenni Williams May 31, 2011 at 11:42 am

I took it as more of a test market thing. Just like damn gay hating chick-fil-a has sweet potato fries in some places and not in others right now (WHY DONT I HAVE THEM?) I can understand them testing the waters a bit on this first. I am exceedingly happy they took this leap at all. Hopefully since they are selling out all over they will increase the market.

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Kati
Twitter:
May 31, 2011 at 11:47 am

Sorry to re-reply (is that a bloggy faux pas?), but I just saw that there is a petition to compel Old Navy to make the shirts available in all 50 states. If y’all are the petitiony-type, have at it: http://www.change.org/petitions/tell-old-navy-support-pride-in-all-50-states

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Laura
Twitter:
May 31, 2011 at 11:54 am

Hmmm. I tend to be skeptical when it comes to Old Navy. I don’t think they have anything but profits on their agenda. The best example I can think of is their “Powered by formula” children’s onesie.

As far as these new gay pride shirts, I also question why they are not available online. If it is just being marketed in test stores, online would also only help them figure out where the shirts might sell, right?

For what it’s worth, I don’t buy their clothes (anymore) because they are very poor quality and cheaply made overseas.

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Megan May 31, 2011 at 11:56 am

I think this is a business decision first and foremost. Maybe they’re not available online because they only made a limited amount? I’m trying to give Old Navy the benefit of the doubt here because at least they have the guts to make them at all.

Or perhaps they’re only selling them in select stores to get people in a frenzy, thus creating free publicity and greater demand? Well played, Old Navy, well played.

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Kalisa
Twitter:
May 31, 2011 at 12:05 pm

I think they’re just in it for the dollars. So they’re carrying them only where they’re sure they’ll sell. And they probably have kids in China making the damn things for 25 cents a day.

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the grumbles
Twitter:
May 31, 2011 at 12:05 pm

huh. i was excited about it before i knew about the 26 stores thing. i was hoping to waltz into my local old navy and buy some. now? yeah, not so cool. be brave, old navy, and sell them everywhere.

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Loukia May 31, 2011 at 12:15 pm

I think they should bring back their I love Jake Ryan t-shirts. They were only in stores for such a short period of time! 😉

Have you checked out the stores in Canada?

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marathonmom May 31, 2011 at 12:23 pm

No way in hail they will sell them here in the bible belt. But why can’t I get one online???? I want to say they are at least trying – but yeah, 26 stores…that statement might be offensive based on the numbers.

I will just make my own then!!!! And go to jail for copyright infringement!!!

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Twinisms May 31, 2011 at 12:35 pm

I love Old Navy too and appreciate that they are taking this baby step. I probably will not be able to buy one here in Anchorage, and I’m ok with that-at least for now. It’s annoying that they have to cowtow to closed-minded people, but they have to make money and stay in business. If they didn’t they could face pickets and store closures, then they wouldn’t even be able to take the baby steps.

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annie May 31, 2011 at 12:40 pm

so they’re kind of taking a stand but not really? sort of a try it without controversy approach….i think the proper business term for that is corporate ass covering.

the big weenies!

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danielle May 31, 2011 at 12:53 pm

You’re right. They should take a corporate stand and sell them nationwide.

I’m wondering if I would find one in my local Old Navy in Tallahassee, FL (which is in an interesting place: bottom of the South, but home to a large (liberal) academic and hippie population).

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Christa May 31, 2011 at 12:56 pm

Hit. Nail. On. Head.

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t May 31, 2011 at 1:19 pm

I am rather surprised that they are not offering it online so that it is easily available for everyone who wants one (and would probably greatly increase sales). While I do think it’s great that they’re selling it at all, let’s not forget that their clothes are mass produced in overseas sweatshops and sold by people who can’t earn a living wage on what Old Navy pays them before we go all lovey-dovey on how awesome they are.

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Issa
Twitter:
May 31, 2011 at 1:22 pm

I guess it more like they are taking a baby step? I love that they are doing this and I’m hoping it’s just a start. Maybe when they sell them all fast, they will bring out more and to more areas?

In the end, they are still a business.

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Kate Coveny Hood
Twitter:
May 31, 2011 at 2:35 pm

I was thinking along the same lines as Issa. This is a pretty big marketing issue, so they may have to start small, get some sales statistics, do surveys in other states… And honestly, people (crazy people) will organize picket lines over this kind of thing. So they may just want to be conservative to start. I love the idea and hope that they continue it with it next year in all 900 stores.

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A Mommy in the City
Twitter:
May 31, 2011 at 3:14 pm

I agree with Issa. I think it’s great that they are a major retailer carrying these shirts. I’m hoping that they will take these baby steps and make them big steps and carry them in all of their stores.

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Stimey
Twitter:
May 31, 2011 at 3:46 pm

I was really happy to hear about the gay pride shirts, but this news about 26 stores? Pfft. I think it makes a lot more of a statement if they put the shirts in ALL their stores. Maybe the gay-hating towns could put the shirts in a back corner facing the wall.

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neena May 31, 2011 at 7:24 pm

I say go big or go home. Either carry them in all stores or don’t, but don’t try for a half-assed statement.

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deborah l quinn
Twitter:
May 31, 2011 at 7:26 pm

Well you know there aren’t really any gay people anywhere else outside of nyc, so why try to market gay pride shirts in, say, Columbus Ohio (where I think there are actually more gay people than even in Chelsea at Sunday brunch). And certainly not market to folks in Chicago, in the neighborhood called Boystown… so yes, baby steps, and yes, certainly a cold hard marketing decision, which means that people who live outside of Gayhattan need to go to their local Old Navy and say, loudly, HEY WHERE ARE YOUR IT GETS BETTER T-SHIRTS? I’ll bet sure as you can say “two for 17.99,” those shirts will be shipped in.

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tracy
Twitter:
May 31, 2011 at 8:46 pm

I do hope it’s just a test market and they will expand. Hopefully. I think it’s very unfortunate that they chose so few stores though. Glad we have access here in Minnesota. If anyone wants me to pick one up for them – I always love an excuse to shop.

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the mama bird diaries
Twitter:
May 31, 2011 at 10:40 pm

They are definitely playing it safe.

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Christine @ quasiagitato May 31, 2011 at 11:15 pm

There are AT LEAST 874 reasons to be ‘in a mood’ about this.
I did the math.

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Kim at Let Me Start By Saying
Twitter:
June 1, 2011 at 6:29 am

I was happy to hear they were coming.
But annoyed that I couldn’t order one online.
If you carry them only in a tiny fraction of your stores? Offer them online, too.

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Becky Rice
Twitter:
June 1, 2011 at 8:55 am

I applaud Old Navy. But the marketer in me says that this was a business decision, in addition to a philantrophic one. Either way, at least they are doing something.

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Becky Rice
Twitter:
June 1, 2011 at 8:57 am

oops – philanthropic, not philantropic!

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Glamamom
Twitter:
June 1, 2011 at 9:33 am

My guess is it’s a merchandising decision just like they don’t sell wool coats in their Hawaii stores. The tees are unlikely to be big sellers in conservative cities so it’s probably cost prohibitive.

Old Navy/Gap has no obligation whatsoever to make a statement about gay rights so I think it’s a hugely positive move, whether it’s a marketing gimmick or not.

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Lynn MacDonald (All Fooked Up)
Twitter:
June 1, 2011 at 11:21 am

hmmm…not much of a risk with such a small ratio is it Old Navy?

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Peajaye
Twitter:
June 1, 2011 at 2:37 pm

Isn’t any Old Navy t-shirt pretty much a Gay Pride t-shirt?

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Tonya
Twitter:
June 1, 2011 at 3:28 pm

I’m not much of an Old Navy fan (every time I buy pants from there they fall apart but maybe it’s my thighs and not their product but to save face I’m just going to blame their product) but I must give them kudos for even taking the baby steps.
I’m sure, overall, it was a business decision but I also have to wonder if not selling the t-shirts in their stores in, say, Alabama, was also a safety concern for store and store employees? As someone who’s from the south I can say there’s still a lot of hate there even if it’s incredibly hideously wrong.

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dragoncita June 2, 2011 at 9:42 am

i wonder if they’ll be ripping off the old navy gay pride t-shirts and selling those in the flea markets here in mexico with all the other fake old navy products.

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Erin I'm Gonna Kill Him
Twitter:
June 3, 2011 at 7:09 am

Yeah, I guess it’s a small step for Old Navy, but a giant leap for Corp America.

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