What does it mean to be a conservative wireless network? Or a conservative dating app? What about a cookie company that makes Donald Trump–themed gingerbread men? As mainstream corporations have embraced progressive political positions in recent years, some conservatives are responding by providing a politicized consumer experience of their own.
“People are seeing a shift in corporate America having a lot of influence on politics,” said Chrissi Bretz, the director of outreach at Public Sq., a database of conservative-oriented businesses. “We’re seeing large corporations spending money on agendas.”
In interviews with Reason, right-wing business owners at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) consistently framed their companies as reactions to mainstream corporations—and mainstream culture—which they characterized as hostile to conservative interests.
“Right now, there’s a lot of parts of the country, especially on mainstream dating apps, where we feel like it’s a hostile environment for us. We want our own place where it’s easy to connect, where we know everyone there is kind of like us,” said John McEntee, co-founder of The Right Stuff, a conservative dating app. “The left dominates culture and industry…. So you could say, ‘Well, what’s the left-wing dating app?’ Well, it’s Tinder.”
“You shop your values,” said Magda Khalifa, founder of Triangle Fragrance, a perfume company. “And if we just keep giving money to brands that do not represent our values—faith, family, freedom, all the things that have made America great—well, our country is going to evolve.”
It seems that, for any service, there is an explicitly right-wing alternative that is gaining popularity among strident conservatives. Instead of Google, conservatives can use Tusk, a “Freedom-First” web browser and search engine. Truth Social famously appeared in 2021 as a refuge for conservative commentators who had been deplatformed by Twitter moderators. Patriot Mobile, a “Christian conservative” wireless provider, was founded a decade ago—but one company representative told Reason that their customer base has tripled since 2020.
“People really are considering purchasing with a purpose over convenience,” said Bretz. “They really want to spend their money in accordance with their values.”
Some pushed back against the idea that their businesses appeal only to committed conservatives. “Most of my customers know that I’m a Trump fan, but they come in anyway because they love the cookies,” said Beth Veneto, who owns Ginger Betty’s, a bakery that crafts elaborate Trump-themed cookies and gingerbread men. “And I have conversations with them. We can agree to disagree.”
While they may seem niche—even bizarre—these conservative businesses are meeting the demands of our increasingly polarizing political climate. If Republicans and Democrats are less likely than ever to live in the same communities, go to the same colleges, or consider dating each other, then it seems inevitable that should want to shop at different stores and use different internet platforms. Polarization, as it turns out, can be highly profitable.
“The country is that divided,” said McEntee. “We kind of want to be with our own people. We want to stick together. We want to help each other. And that’s what I think all these businesses are trying to do.”