Unfortunately, this could happen to anyone working with fur these days, especially retailers selling any sort of fur or fur-trimmed products.
A veteran North American retail furrier – who shall remain nameless here, to protect the innocent – has participated for the past ten years in a high-profile fund-raising fashion show, in support of a local charity. About a month before this year’s show, he spoke with the organizers who confirmed that they were looking forward to working with him again. Then the animal-rights bullies showed up.
Just two weeks before the event, he received a call from the fashion-show producer. She informed him that the Events Committee had decided they could not include his products in the show this year. “One of the sponsors is against fur,” she said, as if this explained everything. The committee had made their decision and nothing could be done, she told him bluntly.
And that might have been the end of the story, except this retailer is not the sort who likes to be told that “nothing can be done” … especially when it involves mindless kowtowing to anti-fur bigots. Sensing that the show producer was not open to discussion, he went above her head and contacted the charity’s Events Coordinator. What he did next should be an inspiration to all furriers – and, indeed, to everyone who believes in democracy.
Here is a summary:
- First, he introduced himself and explained that his company had supported this charity event since its inception, a decade ago.
- Then, he suggested that it wasn’t wise for a medical charity like theirs (they support palliative care) to give in to activist pressure tactics. Animal-rights bullies also oppose laboratory animal research, he reminded her. PETA-boss Ingrid Newkirk is on record saying that she opposes animal research even if it can find cures for AIDS or other terrible diseases. (He had the Event Coordinator’s attention now.)
- And what about the retailers who were showing wool and leather products? Would they also be banned from the show if that was the next activist demand? (Hmmm … maybe this wasn’t so simple after all?)
- Then he asked what they were serving for dinner for the fashion evening … (She was chuckling now.)
- It was time to drive home his main argument: “Listen,” he told her. “We’re not saying that everyone has to wear fur…or leather…or eat meat and dairy either. Each of us can have our own opinions and make our own decisions. Isn’t that what democracy is all about? But that doesn’t give us a right to impose our ideas on everyone else!”
- Finally, he promised to send her a link to a recent Truth About Fur blog post explaining how the modern trade is regulated and why fur is a responsible and ethical fashion choice.
She promised to speak with her superiors. And, sure enough, 24 hours later the retailer received a call from the charity’s CEO. It was Friday afternoon.
“Not the Way We Do Things”
“I wanted to call before the weekend so you wouldn’t have to worry; you’re back in the show,” she said. The activists were not “sponsors” of the event; they had bought a table, like many others. In any case, the Committee should never have made this sort of policy decision without consulting with her. “This is not the way we do things,” she said. The charity appreciated the support his company had offered for so many years; they were delighted that he was ready to participate again. Have a lovely weekend!
Two weeks later, the fashion-show evening was a wonderful success, with almost 500 people in attendance. “I was pleased to see that several of the charity’s board members placed bids for the fur scarf we contributed to the silent auction,” says the retailer.
“I was worried that the activists would make a fuss when my fur scene came on,” he says. “But there was nothing but applause. I found out later that the activists had cancelled their table when they learned that they couldn’t impose their will on the organizers. See how phony their support really was all along!”
The retailer sent a note to the CEO after the show, congratulating her on a wonderful evening – and thanking her for having the intelligence and integrity not to give in to the activists’ bullying tactics.
With fur season revving up again, we hope that his little story will provide encouragement to any retailer who is harassed by activists. Truth About Fur will be preparing a “tool kit” of resources you can use to defend your business, including blog posts like the one cited above.
And if you have a story about tactics that have worked for pushing back against activist bullies, please share it with us!