We're officially one year away from the 2020 Presidential election, and it feels like every time I check my phone there's a  political news update. Amid all of the impeachment queries and Democratic debates lies the inevitable flurry of political ads, from yard signs to TV commercials to controversial Facebook posts. While we're busy dissecting what all of the ads mean, it's easy to forget about where they come from. Or rather, who pays for them. Bill Penzey is changing that. 

Let's Spice Up Political Spending

Bill Penzey is the owner of Penzeys Spices, a spice shop located in Wisconsin and Illinois. Penzeys Spices was thrust into the spotlight in October when it was reported that the shop spent $128,000 on impeachment ads against President Trump. The only person to spend more on ads was the President himself. The move is an unusual one, as many small businesses might shy away from discussing politics in such a polarized time. Penzey takes the opposite approach.

“I think these are unusual political times,” Penzey told the Chicago Tribune. “The politics of the right have become politics of anger, and our business is about kindness.” While some may not see a connection between food and policy, the spice shop has adopted business practices to echo their ideological beliefs. In the past, they've offered customers free Mexican vanilla to protest Trump's views on immigration, and they release weekly newsletters critiquing the administration's policies. This past week, the shop has been selling discounted "Choose Love" boxes to show customers that it is possible to take a stand against what they view as "cruelty and corruption that have taken hold of the Republican Party in this time of unlimited political spending". 

The Numbers Don't Lie

Given just how passionate people can be about politics, a small business could fear the repercussions of speaking out against the administration. However, Penzey feels sharing his beliefs with his customers doesn't just make sense, it makes good business sense. 

Penzey told the Tribune that the impeachment ad was the company's "most successful ad on Facebook,” based on likes, shares, and comments. In his customer newsletter, he admitted that his political posts get political pushback. But he sees that the enthusiasm outweighs the negativity. He wrote that the "Facebook post did indeed have 4,300 angry faces and 6,400 mean laughing faces, but it also had 133,000 likes and 28,800 loves".

Just(ice) Desserts

The case of Penzeys Spices shows the value of food for thought- literally. There is a huge potential for companies, both local and global, to share their values and create a meaningful dialogue with their customers. Using their platform to target policies that hinge on minority rights and to promote inclusivity and kindness in politics not only helps the Penzey family make a difference, but it unites them with a community who feels the exact same way.

As impeachment proceedings trudge forward and we make our way towards the next presidential election, it is time for all Americans to think about what values matter to us. There's no reason why the food we eat and the money we spend shouldn't uphold those same values. Now, excuse me while I turn on the news and order a few more spices.