retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

The stupidity, insensitivity and utter crassness of certain companies never ceases to amaze me.

Take, for example, the decision by Urban Outfitters to sell a Kent State sweatshirt designed to look like it is spattered with blood. (You can see it at left.) The cost of the sweatshirt, $129. The cost to the company's image and reputation? Long-lasting, I suspect.

Kent State, of course, is the campus where on May 4, 1970, members of the Ohio National Guard killed four students during protests against the war in Vietnam.

Kent State says it had nothing to do with the sweatshirt, and has decried the decision by Urban Outfitters to sell the item. Urban Outfitters is saying that the sweatshirt has been taken off its website, though USA Today notes that one of the sweatshirts is being auctioned on eBay with a starting bid of $550, or "Buy It Now" for $2500.

Which demonstrates that Urban Outfitters does not have a monopoly on bad taste.

Also demonstrating that insensitivity knows no bounds is the company that decided that 9-11 was the perfect day to sell made-in-the-USA items at 10 percent off, because there's nothing like a good sale to make sure we never forget one of the great tragedies in our nation's history. (See the ad at left.)

Again, this was not an isolated incident. The Huffington Post reports that a Bikram yoga studio just five miles from the Pentagon decided to have a special 9-11 sale, offering 20 percent off any purchase. And when criticized in social media, a co-owner of the studio defended the decision, saying that the studio also had Valentine's Day sales, and there once was a massacre on Valentine's Day.

What a moron.

You would think that at all these organizations there would be someone - anyone - who would raise his or her hand and say, "Maybe that isn't such a good idea."

You would think that even the crassest, most dollar-driven people would have just enough human decency to know that there are certain things you don't do, certain things you don't say, certain lines you don't cross.

I know one line I'm not going to cross. That's the one that separates me from companies like these. I'm just not doing business with them, and I suspect I won't be alone.

The hell with these people, and the hell with their companies.

KC's View: