Target Responds

Written by Bettina Forbes, CLC


Copyright Target Nurse-In


Copyright Target Nurse-In

We reached out to Target last week on Wednesday, December 21st to see if we could work with them so that the nurse-in scheduled for tomorrow, Dec. 28, 2011 would not be necessary.  Nurse-ins require a lot of time, planning and effort from busy moms.  All of us have other things we would rather be doing during our holidays.  I am a Target shopper and fan, and given my corporate communications background, was hopeful that I could interest Target in taking some proactive steps to ensure that other mothers would not have to go through what Michelle Hickman had experienced, and that we could ask Michelle Hickman to cancel the nurse-in.

So, Danielle and I spoke to Antoine LaFramboise, a corporate spokesperson. We commended Target for having a corporate policy on handling breastfeeding customers and applauded those stores and employees who get rave reviews for supporting nursing moms. At the same time, we expressed our concern that we had heard multiple reports of mothers having negative experiences breastfeeding at Target, that Michelle Hickman’s experience was not an isolated incident.  We offered to work with Target on a plan of action to turn a negative into a positive and position them as a leader among retailers in supporting nursing mothers, and help them reap positive publicity for setting a great example.  This plan of action would include strengthening their corporate policy, and working with them to develop an employee toolkit that other companies could use–after all, nursing mothers are being harassed at stores, restaurants, airports, courtrooms, etc.!   We sent Antoine LaFromboise an email summarizing our conversation on December 22.

Here’s where the frustration sets in.  We didn’t hear a peep.  We left 2 voice messages and a text message just asking Mr. LaFromboise to confirm that he got our email.  Nothing.   We checked with Michelle Hickman to see if she had received an apology or had seen any public statement or post from Target that they were addressing the issue with their employees and welcoming moms, similar to what Whole Foods had done in August.  Still nothing.

Today, at the proverbial midnight hour before the nurse-in, I thought I would try one last time to reach someone in management at Target.  After much effort I finally got a call back from Jessica Clarkson in Media Relations, and shared with her what I had shared with the spokesperson last week.  I asked her if she would please summarize her conversation in an email so I could share it with our followers, and here is what she sent.

Hello Bettina,

Thank you for your inquiry regarding Target’s breastfeeding policy. As mentioned during our conversation, as a family-oriented retailer, Target has a long-standing corporate policy that supports breastfeeding in our stores. We want everyone to feel comfortable shopping at Target.  Guests who choose to breastfeed in public areas of the store are welcome to do so without being made to feel uncomfortable. Additionally, we support the use of fitting rooms for women who wish to breastfeed their babies, even if others are waiting to use the fitting rooms.

We continually educate our team members in stores across the country on store policies to ensure all guests have a great experience and we have been in touch with the store where the incident occurred to ensure all team members are aware of our breastfeeding policy.

We’ve worked with this guest directly to address her concerns and are sorry for any inconvenience it has caused.

Jessica Clarkson

Personally, I’m grumpy that I had to work so hard to get a response.  For pete’s sake, Target has a whole PR staff.  It also feels like too little, too late . . . this could have been so easily solved a month ago–Michelle Hickman even suggested to Target back then that they do what Whole Foods did, and welcome the nursing moms.  What are your thoughts?  How do you think Target has handled this issue? (For the full background on this story, see: Huffington Post, and our FAQs on the National Target Nurse-In)

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142 Comments | Last revised on 12/28/2011

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142 Responses to Target Responds

  1. Barbara Wyly says:

    The nicest stores and businesses have a chair or couch in their “powder rooms”. Not only are they a boon for nursing mothers, but also to those who are prone to migraines, or who are older, or even those with toddlers who need a time out. I have always made a point to shop at those stores when I can, and my daughter and daughter in law who are nursing mothers and mothers with young children do the same. My daughter has been known to spend insane amounts of money at Babies R us (which she calls Babies R expensive) precisely because they do have such a room where she can nurse her baby or take a screaming toddler for a time out. She does this, even though Target and Meijer, which might be cheaper, are next door. For all the reasons which Meg so eloquently set forth, packing a bottle of breast milk for a baby is not an option, and trying to feed a screaming baby in tense , uncomfortable surroundings is a guarantee that the milk will not let down and the baby will only scream more. So, if a store has any business sense at all, and its primary Target, no pun intended, is young, women who care about their children, then it would be wise of them to invest in a little more room in their “powder rooms” for a couch or chair or two. Like many other things done to benefit the disabled and children (i.e. handicapped walkways for wheels and handicapped access bathrooms) this could benefit everyone!

  2. rhonda says:

    Dressing room? Really? Target offered me the bathroom…I’m sorry, I mean Target offered my 6wk old 100% breastfed baby the bathroom. This place should be more ashamed of the nearly two full aisles of formula it provides…that stuff should stay in the bathrooms (sorry to those who TRUELY need it…not sabatoged into needing it)

    • rhonda says:

      PS….I stayed right where I was at and fed her…bathroom, blah!

    • Bettina Forbes, CLC says:

      As a mother who used formula and who breastfed, I do not think formula, or by extension anyone who uses it, needs to be denigrated to make a point. No mother should have to feed her baby in the bathroom, no matter how she chooses to feed her baby. Best for Babes believes we need to stand up for the rights of all mothers, whether they breastfeed for 2 days, 2 months, 2 years or not at all.

      • pauline says:

        Denigrating formula and apologizing to those who have no choice is not denigrating the use of it “by extension”.
        There is a long, ugly history of formula, whose male manufacturers once promised women the freedom from the “disgusting” and “degrading” job of breastfeeding.
        Lots of women in the 50’s fell for that garbage.
        Many, surprisingly, still do.
        And it’s the babies who suffer with allergies, stomach upsets, and the loss of this exquisite experience with their mothers.

        Target seems to be trapped in the 1950’s, despite what its PR people “say”. Actions are louder than words. Target is selling formula openly yet having breastfed babies relegated to the bathroom. (facepalm)

        That’s all Rhonda was pointing out.

  3. Love what you are doing Bettina! Woo hoo!

  4. Elaine says:

    wait… I’m a little confused now…
    Did the nurse in happen?

  5. pauline says:

    Terrific! Wish I’d had you gals around when I was a nursing mom! I just ignored the disgusted looks and nursed wherever the heck my babies wanted to be fed, restaurants, stores, trains, anywhere. Luckily, no one ever asked me not to. They’d have been sorry… 😉
    You just don’t mess with a lioness and her cub needing to be fed!

    Target “sigh” hates gays and babies. Who will they kick around next? Kittens?

    • Jan D. Turner says:

      Yay! for Pauline! More breastfeeding moms need to have her attitude. I breastfed my babies (1st born in ’85, 2nd in ’91) discreetly in public many times and no one ever said anything to me, to quote Pauline, “They’d have been sorry…”! It is such a shame so many new mothers havn’t had a role model to show them the way; my mother breastfed all 5 of us, I knew I could do it too and that it was the best possible start nutritionally and every other way in life. Breastfeeding came so naturally to me that I have often said it was the best(most successful) thing I have ever done!

  6. bkh says:

    Personally I wish the store would provide a section to breast feed babies. I know some people are not comfortable at all to see it. Also wont it trigger discrimination to those woman who cant have kids? Who will be jealous to those who can experience the beauty of motherhood. Just a thought.. I think as a mother we have to consider other feelings too. And common sense is to breast feed not in public or at least cover up.. just a thought..

    • JRR says:

      I think that’s going just a little too far to say that breastfeeding your baby in public will hurt the feelings of women who can’t have babies. You might as well tell all mothers to leave their babies at home, so as not to offend other women who are infertile or for some other reason cannot have children. If a woman is going to feel sad seeing a mom breastfeeding her baby in a store, she is going to feel sad seeing ANY baby in a store. To say that women who can’t have children will feel discriminated against is just ridiculous. You might as well post a sign on the door that says “No Babies Allowed Past This Point” or have a section of the store deemed “Baby Free Zone”.

    • Robin Ebel says:

      What?!! Your comment is saying that breastfeeding mothers should be seperated from public view so as not to hurt the feelings of women who dont/cant have children? And have “common sense not to breastfeed in public” Thats terrible! I will not cover up for you! My baby should not have to eat under a blanket for your comfort!! Shame on you. This is the reason women need to breastfeed in public, americans dont mind seeing half naked teenagers in bikinis yet me nursing my LO is offensive. Makes me laugh at your small mindedness

    • bronwyn says:

      sheesh! what a stupid comment.

      i wish stores would have a section for idiots to shop in so normal people dont have to be exposed to them.

      its just feeding a baby for gods sake!

  7. POK, NY says:

    And to think that just a little over a year later a woman was intimidated and asked to leave the Target in Poughkeepsie, NY for nursing a 4-month-old. Target apparently didn’t learn the first time. SMH

  8. Lisa K says:

    And to think that we just went through the same thing with a Nurse-In at our local Target too. They really don’t learn, and really don’t “walk the walk” that their PR flak peddle.

    I received the same canned response when I contacted their corporate headquarters. With multiple follow-ups and absolutely no response (let alone apology) from them, we had over 30 mothers join us in the store. They still didn’t want to talk to us, until I insisted that ignoring the problem is supremely bad customer relations. That at least got a personal response.

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