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Bed, Bath & Backlash

When news broke of the two companies who decided to play the 'green card' by publicly boycotting transportation services who use so-called 'dirty oil' from Canada's tar sands, I knew there would be an Alberta backlash.

And so there was.

While one of the two PR-whoring companies in question, Whole Foods Market, is fairly unimportant due to their lack of presence in Alberta, Bed, Bath & Beyond felt the wrath directly. With five locations around the province, citizens of the oil-rich province were able to do a little boycotting of their own.

The repercussions were such that BB&B did an about-face and retracted their move. Apparently Albertans weren't dumb enough to continue paying for overpriced BB&B products with 'dirty oil money'.

Bad enough that these companies are so willing to be sucked into the negative, misinformed spin targeting the tar sands by such suspect special interest groups as ForestEthics. What leaves the bitter aftertaste in the mouths of Albertans - who historically have long memories and can hold grudges when done wrong - is the blatant hypocrisy that is exhibited.

Bed, Bath and Beyond thought they could openly attack Alberta and it's lifeblood - our energy sector - all the while greedily accepting those same dirty oil bucks at the cash register. Such a miscalculation calls the intelligence of management into question.

Rumours of active rebellion filled the virtual world before BB&B backtracked.

An email from a reader in Calgary (who asked to remain anonymous) described a Saturday afternoon visit to a local BB&B location. Along with her sister, they casually perused the store, picking out item after item, putting the sales staff through their paces on a busy day with issues of colour, size, and selection.

Keep in mind, she says, that she and her sister were on their best behaviour at all times.

After almost two full hours, they brought their goods to the till. When all of the items had been scanned and the bill had been totalled, she reached out to hand her debit card to the sales lady, then hesitated.

"I pulled my hand back and said: '...oh, wait. My husband and I both work in the oil industry, which makes our money dirty and unacceptable to your company. I guess I won't be getting anything today.' And with that, we turned and walked proudly out of the store to the amazement of those around us."

Other stories of incidents around the province made the rounds, including unsubstantiated rumours of oil being spilled in stores, although I doubt that ever happened.

But the sting of the move was felt by Albertans, and you can bet it will be a long, long time before many of us spend any of our dollars in Bed, Bath & Beyond.

If our oil is too dirty for you, then so is the money that comes from it.


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