NEW YORK – This holiday shopping season, consumers have a way to find out which way their favorite store leans in its political givings.
BuyBlue.org offers up information on which political party stores such as Wal-Mart, Amazon.com, Target, Bed Bath & Beyond and Sharper Image donate to. For example, of the $2 million Wal-Mart donated during the 2004 election cycle, 80 percent went to Republicans, putting it in the "red category," whereas of the $208,000 Price Club/Costco donated that year, 98 percent of it went to Democrats, putting it in the "blue" category.
Other services listed included restaurants, oil and gas companies and airlines, among others.
"The catch phrase we've been using is, 'have a Blue Christmas' — find out what businesses have been naughty and which have been nice and shop accordingly," San-Francisco-based BuyBlue.org President Raven Brooks told FOXnews.com. "Really, during the Christmas season, that's when people spend the most money and corporations are paying the most attention to their bottom line, so that's why it's most important to get that information out there."
BuyBlue.org was born after this year's presidential elections resulted in President Bush (search) getting another four years in the White House. There was a lot of energy surrounding the election, especially from supporters of John Kerry (search), hoping their candidate would oust the current commander in chief. But after that didn't happen, people were looking for ways to still make a difference, according to Brooks.
And so far, the response has been positive, Brooks said.
"We certainly got a lot of people — I want to say probably 90 percent of the responses we've gotten — say that one way or the other, whether they say they're going to buy blue or red, this will impact their purchase decisions this season and they will shop according to their politics," Brooks said.
Some respondents, for example, surprised that 61 percent of Amazon.com's $100,000 went to Republicans this year, are going so far as to boycott that company. And that mentality may spread.
"I think it's useful and I will use it [though I don't expect to see many stores that give most of their money to Democrats]," said Democrat Kevin Mallon, a lawyer in New York City. "I didn't buy Nike products for years because of their policies and giving money to Republicans is, in my opinion, at least as bad as running a Thai sweatshop. Why would I want any of my money going to a party that is against everything I believe in?"
But Republicans Ellen and Padraic Lee of White Plains, N.Y., noted that although BuyBlue.org's information is helpful, massive boycotts likely won't be seen.
"Quite honestly, I was going to go to Sharper Image today and I didn't go" after seeing that 93 percent of that company's donations went to Democratic causes, Ellen Lee said. But in the future, she added, "Am I going to go to Sharper Image? Of course I am. I don't think boycotting stores really works … I won't buy French wine but I never really cared for French wine anyway."
Lee was referring to how many American consumers boycotted French wine after that country refused to join the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq.
Republican National Committee spokesman Brian Jones (search) said consumers will buy more according to their needs, not according to what political action committee their neighborhood store supports.
"I think the American consumer is smarter than that and ultimately will buy the products and goods that are best for their individual needs," Jones said. "Most people will separate what's a good product or service and any sort of political donations that may be … a function of that organization or something that company does."
Jones noted that although many of the Hollywood elite came out in loud support of Kerry and weren't shy about bashing Bush and his policies, people — even Republicans — still go see movies and other forms of entertainment.
"At the end of the day, the effect [on Hollywood] was nothing," Jones said.
The Democratic National Committee did not return calls for comment.
Being 'Good Corporate Citizens'
Not only does the site, which went live Dec. 3, include companies' political donation information based on data from the Center for Responsive Politics and the Federal Elections Commission Web site, but it hopes to expand to include best and worst practices of various businesses in regards to environmental standards, worker conditions, transparency and corporate responsibility, as well as bring attention to other issues.
"Currently, the definition of 'blue' and 'red,' in most people's minds, is Democrat or Republican, conservative or liberal," Brooks said, noting that the perceived failure to make progress on many domestic issues such as civil rights and the environment isn't necessarily the fault of one party or another, but of lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle.
The Web site hopes to hold those faulty corporations to task and to be used as sort of a trusted seal of approval for various companies.
"Eventually, we're hoping corporations will refer to us in their advertisements because it will be a selling point for them — that they're espousing the right values, they're good corporate citizens, etc.," Brooks said.
And this information can help better inform not only other companies, but also voting consumers, since people want to know where their money goes.
"Social impact funds are becoming more popular with investors; some will even forego higher returns to know that their money is financing socially conscious companies," said 25-year-old Brian Leuchtenburg, a Democrat who works in New York for a financial services firm.
"It is possible that there could be an effect from consumers shopping at companies with similar political beliefs, especially at time when social issues are at the forefront of the political landscape."