I was just listening to KQED's kick ass audio stream when a report came on about Target banning those annoying bell-rining Santas from hanging out at the store entrance/exit during the holiday shopping season.

It's been a few years since I actually set foot into an actual brick and mortar store during the holiday over-consumption season, but I still can't be a little proud of Target for this. That was one of the many, many things that drove me to use the Web for as much of my gift finding as possible.

Amusingly, the reporter said something at the end of the story like this: "if you want to see the Santas, you'll have visiit Wal-Mart, K-Mart, ..." and named a few others stores.

Why is that amusing? Because I think it had the opposite effect on me. If I thought I was going to be joining the herds later this Fall, I'd have written those names down on my "don't shop here" list.

Too bad I can't find the story on the NPR web site. But here's a report from Oregon on the story.

Posted by jzawodn at September 28, 2004 09:03 AM

Reader Comments
# Doug said:

Aren't they collecting money for charity?

on September 28, 2004 09:19 AM
# rr said:


on September 28, 2004 09:37 AM
# Larry said:

Here's the NPR Story

search for "target salvation army" worked .. Santa's not mentioned in the title or summary

on September 28, 2004 10:42 AM
# Greg said:

Aren't we Mr. Grinch. Those bell-ringing Santas (though I haven't actually seen a Santa in a few years) are one of the things that put me in the Christmas mood.

on September 28, 2004 10:50 AM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:

Greg: If having an opinion on something that I find offeneds my senses means I'm "a grinch", then so be it.

Larry: Thanks for the link. It's too bad NPR doesn't index the whole transcript. That'd make finding stuff a lot easier, wouldn't it?

on September 28, 2004 10:58 AM
# Anjan said:

Count me as a grinch too.

The bell ringing santas have NOTHING to do with Christmas spirit or giving. There are numerous other ways to donate to help people. Among them, go to a web site and make a pledge. You must be pretty lonely if you have to depend on those annoying bucket-holder to feel Christmasy.

The argument is similar to saying that the only way to shop is through a door-to-door salesmen. Way to go, Target

on September 28, 2004 11:16 AM
# Dave said:

Pretty funny that liberals, who are supposed to be all for helping the less fortunate, are annoyed by and in favor of banning Salvation Army Santas. But it's not like liberals ever gave any of THEIR OWN money away anyway.

on September 28, 2004 12:02 PM
# Scott Johnson said:

Jeremy, I totally agree with you on this. I can't stand the red, bell-ringing santas that we all see far too often during the holiday season. I'm not against giving to charities. And I have nothing against the Salvation Army. But I really can't stand their panhandling tactics to try to get money. There are many other approaches that they could take that are far more respectable. Good for Target!

on September 28, 2004 12:49 PM
# Matt said:

This really irks me.

How could you possibly have anything against volunteers collecting money for charity?

I think they fill an important roll in reminding people who otherwise wouldn't think twice about giving a penny.

I've lost a bit of respect for you today Jeremy.

on September 28, 2004 12:50 PM
# havoc said:

Okay, this "conversation" is too weird.

Jeremy, it's your blog. You have a right to say whatever you like. I'll not condemn you for your opionion. Neither should others.

On the other hand, it is interesting that you have repeatedly let it be known that you are very much further to the Left politically than I. Surely you can admit that the juxtaposition between the supposed "compassionate liberal," and the anti-Salvation Army bell ringers attitude is amusing.

You can find humor there, can't you? I thought it was pretty funny.

Ah, well... Maybe I should put my time where my mouth is and volunteer to ring an SA bell this winter for a couple hours.

on September 28, 2004 01:11 PM
# Luther said:

How pathetic. Among the first lessons that parents teach their children is how to share - you know - how to get along with everybody. Apparently you not only missed out on the lessons as a child, but you're still selfish and even worse, you fail to appreciate the sincere efforts of others to help the man by the side of the road.

on September 28, 2004 02:11 PM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:

Wow, you guys know how to read A LOT into a simple statement, don't you?

Do I give to charities? Yes.

Do I hate the Salvation Army? No.

Does their bell ringing annoy me? Yes.

I don't know where all this liberal political bullshit came from, but I was simply saying that I think it's good that Target removed an annoyance from the experience of shopping there.

Is it *really* that hard to understand?

Matt lost a lot of respect for me, but I don't know who he is. Maybe I lost respect for him too? I never said I was against volunteers collecting for charity. I did say I don't like the bell ringing santas.

Matt, if you think those are one in the same, then so be it.

on September 28, 2004 04:02 PM
# David said:

Count me with you Jeremy - the bell ringers are annoying. And I'll be shopping at Target because of this.

And honestly, do you all thing that everyone with their hand out ringing a bell at Xmas time is really collecting for charity? I doubt it.

Jeeze people, give it a break.

on September 28, 2004 05:09 PM
# Mark Denovich said:

I used to have an office one floor directly above a bell ringing Santa. 40 hrs a week of that will really put you in the spirit. Ba humbug!

There is plenty of giving going on in the holidays... we (I certainly) don't need to be pumped for cash on every corner.

Now I just need to figure out how to ban clowns.

on September 28, 2004 05:16 PM
# TDavid said:

Actually, I like the bell ringers and agree with the person above who stat that it gets him in the Christmas spirit.

One thing about them though, I do feel a bit guilty when I walk by and don't have any spare change to throw in there. I've been known to slip a bill or two in on occasion, but then again often times I don't use cash, I use ATM cards to shop (or my Target card) and it's a little difficult to put anything in there when all you have is plastic, no cash or coin.

on September 28, 2004 05:41 PM
# TDavid said:

BTW, Jeremy sometimes I think you write a little like John Dvorak in that you have a bit of a negative, pessimistic style. I am not criticizing your writing style, just describing how I read it. I like that style personally, as I think that readers can see right through flowery BS.

The downside to this, though, is others will think you are condescending, rude, negative, pessimistic, etc. Can't please everybody!

I am guessing that in person you are a really nice guy, but you had to know (you seem like a very intelligent guy) that a post like this is going to come off all wrong to a lot of people.

Knocking something charity-related is going to be a tough sell, mon. :)

Keep doing what you do here. No pictures of cats please.

on September 28, 2004 05:46 PM
# Harry said:

I can't believe people in and around San Francisco would be annoyed by bell-ringing Santas. After all, everywhere you go around there people are constantly hitting you up for money.

I think the Santas are the least annoying. Worse are political signature collectors (who are almost always paid guns), girl scout cookies selling parents (with their sad-puppy-dog-eyed kids), firemen (don't I pay enough taxes?), and the usual street beggar (usually chain-smoking cigarettes) that hang out in front of stores, intersections, etc.

on September 28, 2004 08:33 PM
# Michael Bernstein said:

I'm not sure whether this applies to other areas, but here in Las Vegas the bell ringers started getting to keep 10% of their take about three years ago, with the predictable result that they became *much* more aggressive in soliciting donations.

The reason the SA started doing this was because they were having trouble getting enough volunteers. Personally, I think the lack of volunteers should probably be attributed to the fact that the bell ringers start showing up in freaking *October*, rather than after Thanksgiving.

I found out about this because my GF was in charge of community service programs at a high school then, and being an SA bell-ringer no longer qualified as community service because they got to keep a portion of the proceeds.

on September 29, 2004 10:10 AM
# Joey said:

Seems to me allowing the Salvation Army to just do what they have been for years is a simple gesture.

Why they could'nt just say no to others is beyond me.

on September 30, 2004 07:07 PM
# Bill said:

"...here in Las Vegas the bell ringers started getting to keep 10% of their take about three years ago..."

My BS meter is pegged for this. Care to provide some evidence? I thought not.

on October 1, 2004 10:35 AM
# Marcie said:

I was delighted that Target is no longer allowing Salvation Army bell ringers at their stores. I generously support my church and other charities. However, the Salvation Army discriminates against gay/lesbian employees. We live in America where our founding fathers told us all citizens are entitled to equal rights. If the Salvation Army does not believe in our constitution, I don't think their bell ringing should be tolerated anywhere.For the record,I am straight but believe all God's children should be treated equally

on October 1, 2004 10:43 PM
# Dave said:

God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.

on October 2, 2004 11:06 AM
# Stomaphagus said:

Dave, Dave, Dave.

But it's not like liberals ever gave any of THEIR OWN money away anyway.

We give to a lot of agencies. Chief among them is Seattle's Union Gospel Mission which does wonderful work around here.

And (was this you?)

God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.

Homosexuality occurs as a minority percentage of pairs in many species, not just ours. And besides, Christians aren't required to follow the Levitican prohibitions -- Jesus revoked all the requirements to be a Jew. New covenant, right?


on October 3, 2004 04:50 PM
# Kyle Thill said:

Here's a link from their home state newspaper regarding it: http://www.startribune.com/stories/462/4979547.html

on October 3, 2004 07:46 PM
# Dave said:

Ah, the old "if it occurs in 'nature' then it must be okay" argument. So I guess you'd be in favor of bestiality, eating each other, and licking yourself in public as well.

on October 3, 2004 08:35 PM
# said:

Those Santas are collecting money so they can buy toys and food for the less fortunate. How self-minded can you be. Target banned them because target believes that they are too much of a Catholic charity. They for people of all races and religious beliefs. Are you against giving toys to children who can't afford them?

on December 7, 2004 07:15 AM
# PJ said:

I used to have sympathy for the Salvation Army until today. When one fat disinterested man has been ringing a bell all day under my bedroom window stopping only for a few seconds to turn the page of whatever comic book he is reading.

on December 11, 2004 09:06 AM
# rob said:

Ok, I'll just come out and say it. The Salvation Army is a cult and a business. Period. My sister happens to be one of their minions.

This is how it works: find the most hopeless, desperate segment of the population, take them in, wash them, feed them and get them off what ever it is they're addicted to. Then get 'em hooked on the Lord. Make them feel like they're worthless and show them the 'light' of servitude.

Now, make everyone else in the world feel guilty that they didn't care to help until the kettles appeared and it suddenly became so bloody easy to be a 'Good Person.'

It's really perfect, isn't it?

The Salvation Army is filthy rich. They don't let that money sit around in sacks until they need it. They invest it and multiply it.

I don't know how this discussion got into the realm of homosexuality, but if there is a gay recruitment strategy as the wingers are wont to insist, then it could take a cue from the SA because they've obviously figured it out...

on December 21, 2004 02:00 AM
# MikeM said:

Hmm. Is it the bell ringing that annoys you? Or simply them being there?

on December 21, 2004 09:08 AM
# anthony gillespie said:

i have been a salvation angel for the past 5 years ringing the bell during the holiday seasen.i am disabled and cant work full time .my income is very limited and when the holidays arive i am so glad cause i know im going to be able to help my self while helping a lot of others.i make 7.00 an hour and i work a lot of overtime cause i can sit and ring the bellon average i make 2,500 during the holidays .on average my bucket brings in 500.00 per shift 6 days a week for 6 weeks.the one thing i have learned is the ovious wealthy wont even look at you they just walk on by.it is the poor people who donate so that other poor folks not as lucky as they are can have a x-mas for there familys.i will be a bell ringer till the time i cant no longer may god bless us all even the filthy rich who dont know the first thing about sharing

on October 19, 2006 06:12 PM
# dan smith said:

what has happened to america?

on October 7, 2007 11:39 PM
# sessiwf said:

I work across the street from a grocery store that has a soup bar and I love soup, so I usually go there about 3 times a week. I have avoided the store since they have the bell ringers. I don't like the looks that I get when I walk in AND out of the store because I don't put change in the bucket. I always use a credit card and never have change or bills so I don't have anything to put in the bucket. I contribute $100.00 every year to a local charity that mirrors the Salvation Army and I write several checks to other charities. Just because I don't drop in a quarter doesn't mean that I am a scrooge or stingy, it means that I have already contributed and I don't have any cash. I love that Target doesn't have bell ringers, and I take my lunch business there. I actually once went to an atm and got out money and then bought some gum(to break a five) so I would have change to drop in, then I realized how riduculous that was. I don't want to feel guilty for walking by the ringers but that is exactly how I feel, so I avoid the stores that have them.

on December 3, 2007 12:21 PM
# Boone said:

I worked ringing one of those bells this year part-time. They fired me for smoking cigarettes. Goodbye, $6.50 an hour job. No more sore feet, no more shivering in the cold.

Yes, I think its a cult..and this here dyke is no longer an employee of it.

on December 19, 2007 10:59 AM
# Moiety said:

Wow, you hit the nail on the head, Jeremy. Good god, I hate the bell ringing. It's fine if the SA wants to collect outside of stores, it's fine that they look to benefit the needy, less fortunate, etc. I just... aaaugh, why the goddamn bell? It's so irritating. Screw bells. Is it so much harder to stand patiently by the side of the entrance, and greet people with only a smile? That's the kind of holiday spirit I like. THAT, is much more likely to elicit some donation from me. If the bell-ringers are being irritating, then why should I feel giving ...? I think that if they changed their tact, and pitched the bells, they'd find a lot more donations and Christmas cheer.

on December 14, 2008 01:10 PM
# said:

Rob is right. The Salvation Army is a cult. How do I know? Because I have been working for them for the past few years. I pray I will be able to get out, and get out soon. Take it from me - give to your local church. Do not give to the Salvation Army.

on May 5, 2009 04:20 PM
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