Dreams of a conservative Amazon: Public Sq. helps customers help businesses that share their values
Amid corporate America's ongoing genuflection to woke activism, "We needed to create an economy that was by the people for the people, we-the-people-centered — and Public Square was born," said platform's CEO Michael Siefert.
With daily headlines bringing recurring reminders of corporate acquiescence to the woke agenda — from Bud Light's costly embrace of a transgender influencer as brand ambassador to bank failures linked to ESG investing — a new online marketplace, "PublicSq." is rapidly gaining a loyal following as a haven for conservative consumers who feel corporate America has turned its back on them.
"We're the nation's largest marketplace, community of businesses and consumers that all have one thing in common," company CEO Michael Siefert told Just The News, "and that's the patriotic values that they share.
"We've been tired of witnessing corporate entity, after corporate entity over the past decade increasingly embrace hyper-progressive highly politicized values and utilize and weaponize those values in the public square against the values that tens of millions of Americans still hold dear —values for life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, morality, reason, common sense. All of these things are under attack today, and the battlefield of commerce is where it's playing out."
Following the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) earlier this month, it was discovered the institution was allied in cash and manpower with a liberal nonprofit run by California Gov. Gavin Newsom's wife and fully embraced the environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing framework now being banned in some red states.
Even as financial losses mounted, the bank doubled down on its strategy, pledging $5 billion in new green tech outlays despite signs of rising interest rates negatively impacting the sector.
Launched nationwide nine months ago and available on iOS and Android, PublicSq. offers users a sales platform via which they can register their rejection of aggressively woke signaling of the kind embodied by SVB and Bud Light by "not funding companies that stand antithetical to the American dream with their purchases," said Siefert.
People who knew about the site early on were skeptical it would succeed, the CEO said. The demand for an alternative e-commerce platform proved stronger than expected, however, due to customers feeling abandoned by brands they once trusted.
"We have an online marketplace with tens of thousands businesses that will service you anywhere in the country," Siefert added. "What started with 150 businesses in San Diego County 18 months ago, has turned into a blossoming community of tens of thousands of businesses from a myriad of industries, all with this common goal of serving quality goods and services and products to a consumer base that is hungry, because they've been unaddressed for so long."
Screenshot Public Square Website
Much of the impetus for the site was the overall leftward lurch of corporate America.
"Whether it's Starbucks preaching about how we need to defund the police or Lululemon lecturing their consumers about gender ideology or PayPal threatening to fine customers $2,500 for misinformation, there was definitely a general sentiment [of pushback]," said Siefert.
But there was also a more specific and immediate catalyst. "During COVID, I witnessed something very disastrous," he recalled. "I had the idea for this company in January of 2021 in the heart of the COVID lockdowns, and I started to witness the government coming out and saying things like this business is essential, and this one is nonessential, and these employees are essential, and these are not essential, based upon how much those businesses would parrot the messaging of the government in charge, which is actual fascism.
"What I witnessed was certain businesses being given special privileges — allowed to stay open — if they would adopt the messaging of the government, but if a business was unwilling to sacrifice the liberties of their customers and was taking a stand for personal and corporate freedoms and was a small business that made our country special, they were not seeing it as essential ...
"That was really the straw that broke the camel's back for us, the authoritarian lockdowns, the politicization of the marketplace, labeling certain businesses and industries as essential — we had had enough. We needed to create an economy that was by the people for the people, we-the-people-centered — and Public Square was born."
The website founder believes the community growing around Public Sq. will be able to circle the wagons to protect participating businesses from potential backlash from the left, enabling them to withstand intimidation tactics and threats of boycotts.
"The movement has grown so large, and there's strength in numbers," Siefert said. "So we get a lot of pushback to us, Public Square, corporately, but we get very little pushback to the individual businesses themselves because they're part of a broader movement. And we have proven that if one of our businesses were to come under fire for their representation on the Public Square marketplace, we would go above and beyond to protect and serve them."
One example he cited was when a bakery business in Chicago was exposed by an Antifa Facebook page for being on PublicSq., and it triggered a protest.
"We had a mobilization of our customers to that business," Siefert recalled. "We did a promo campaign where we gave away free bakery goods for the first 500 customers that visited that day, and we blew them up. It was the most profitable day they had all year, and they learned with a loud and clear message that the parallel economy is here to stay. Patriotic consumers that just love their country and quality products and services will not be intimidated.
"And what was great was that Antifa didn't even show up, so they backed down because they saw our mobilized movement. They recognize that their efforts were going to be futile. ... Any time we get pushback it only results in a greater benefit to the platform and a greater growth of the member base."
Siefert has big dreams for his platform — nothing less than a conservative "competitor to Amazon," he freely admits.
"We are building out e-commerce and launching that this year to accommodate more product-focused delivery and ease of access to online shopping experiences," he said. "That is the future of Public Square. That's where we're going. For some of these other kinds of entrepreneurial juggernauts that have been established — large corporate entities like Uber, Airbnb, I will say that we have heard incredibly hope-inspiring stories of young entrepreneurs that are fighting the good fight and creating not only values-aligned patriotic alternatives to those brands, but [they're] even higher quality ...
"They're providing a high-quality product as a market disrupter, and it just so happens that they're not bought into the hyper-politicized agenda. They're wanting to honor the freedoms of their consumers.
"And they've embraced a pro-American message, and they're going to get rewarded for it. They're already seeing those returns happen through our marketplace. We're seeing really innovative ideas start to disrupt the housing space, the ticketing space. I have a very hopeful, positive outlook and am very optimistic about the future of American ingenuity. I think that the American economy is in for another Renaissance era."
You can follow Nick on Twitter @NGivasDC