'Distraction-free shopping'

I wandered by a Target today and saw a guy sitting outside, registering people to vote. Target hasa policy for a while to provide what they call "distraction-free shopping" to their customers. Basically no person or group, regardless of reason or cause, can position themselves in front of the store to solicit anything. Not signatures, not Girl Scout cookies, not donations, nothing.

According to their official policy, "We ask all solicitors and petitioners to respect our policy by ceasing their activities and leaving our property. However, frequently they refuse to comply. We partner with local law enforcement agencies to assist us in having unwanted solicitors and petitioners removed from our property."

I've never seen anyone removed from the front of a store before. Instead what happens is there is usually a big angry red sign stating that what this person/group is doing is against store policy.

I'm curious about everyone's thoughts on this policy or similar policies other businesses have enacted. Should the store call law enforcement to remove people? What about the people who are knowing violating the store's policy?

Comments

I would expect stores to prevent 'distractions' and yes, that includes calling law enforrcement if necessary. In practice it should rarely come to that. A more or less polite reminder from security or other staff should be enough. Thank god it isn't much of a problem here. All you will typically see are occasional approved charity sales or information booths in the common areas of malls.
Quote Originally posted by RabbitMage View post
I've never seen anyone removed from the front of a store before. Instead what happens is there is usually a big angry red sign stating that what this person/group is doing is against store policy.
Now that would piss me off. I don't know about America, but here if you want someone kicked off your private property chances are you will succeed. Either you approve or you don't.

If they ask a group that has settled itself in front of the store to leave and that group fails to do so, calling the police seems perfectly reasonable to me. The sidewalk in front of the store isn't a free-for-all land.

I've never seen the big angry sign you mention and I've never seen anybody removed from in front of a store. Instead, I usually just don't see people on the property of stores with that policy. And I'm okay with that.

I agree with Zuul. If it's their property, I guess they can do what they want with it.

Yes, they definitely should be able to call the cops to remove the solicitors, but they probably don't want to end up on the evening news for having Girl Scouts arrested.

That would probably be bad for business.

Quote Originally posted by Orual View post
Yes, they definitely should be able to call the cops to remove the solicitors, but they probably don't want to end up on the evening news for having Girl Scouts arrested.

That would probably be bad for business.
Unless it was the Childfree Hardcore Store.

This is a reason why I (did?) enjoy shopping at Target. Except for the shriners, around here you're accosted for your money by cheerleading squads or the damn salvation army. When I had the income, I had money taken out for my area's United Way, an association that actively provides for families in need.

But I think for a company that at least likes to give the image of being liberal-friendly, a lot of common associations that solicit donations outside of stores could cause conflict. I admit, I've thought about complaining to my local grocery store about the Salvation Army and suggest they try to get donations for the local Franciscans -- you know, the people who are actually standing on street corners and handing out food to the homeless and not using the money for political gain.

Anyway, I think my point is that they're probably smart to not have this for people like me who do actually get upset when a group we don't agree with is soliciting donations. So by disallowing it they don't have to get involved in any such issues.

I remember there was a to-do a year or so ago because the local Target wouldn't allow the Salvation Army to solicit in front of the store. It was spun as mean old target hates the salvation army and it took a lot of time and effort to make it clear that this wasn't an anti-salvation army thing, it was a policy thing that affects all solicitors. Basically, I don't care if you want to solicit in front of a store, I'm going to ignore you anyway and stores that are clogged with them are going to be avoided. I don't give a shit if girl scouts are taped being handcuffed and escorted off the property.

I wanted to get a few opinions before I chimed in with my own.

I think private businesses absolutely have the right to restrict activity on their property, and especially if someone has been asked to leave and refuses, then they're opening themselves up to law enforcement involvement and legal action.

Also, what kind of a jerk continues to sit there after being asked to leave? "Excuse me, sir. I'm sorry, but company policy is that we don't allow solicitation in front of the store. I'm going to have to ask you to pack up and leave." "Uh, no." I would avoid such a person/group on principle, because seriously, what a dick.

I agree with Panther (I actually agree with Panther a lot, we should hang out sometime) that it's a smart move for them. There are a few organizations I flat out refuse to donate to for political reasons and I hate being hassled by them as I'm trying to do my shopping. So much so that I also tend to avoid stores where I know they'll be present.

There's also the discrimination angle. "Well why do you let the Girl Scouts sell cookies, but you refused my Boy Scout troop?" "Why can that guy register Republican voters, but I can't come out tomorrow and register Democrats?" And so on.

In short: Good policy, I approve, people are dicks for not following it.

I like Target's policy. I hope more stores adopt it. It would be really rude to stay after being asked to leave.

I really fucking loathe being harassed by Girl Scouts or other solicitors every time I go to the store to get a loaf of bread (I used to buy groceries at a Publix that allowed them to set up shop in front). I know this is gonna make me sound like a social defective, but I just don't want to have to deal with aggressive nine-year olds in my face every time I go in and come back out. If I wanted to buy your overpriced cookies, I'd fucking order them from the catalog your mom's passing around the office, Cindy Lou Who.