Friday, June 28, 2013

Taking a Stand

Occasionally we weigh in on political issues...through a store display, a window or even a pattern.

Our Obama Birther Certificate Tray
Usually we're preaching to the choir, but I’m not going to lie, voicing our opinion on politics sometimes ruffles people’s feathers.  ‘Stick to doing dishes Julie’  ‘Retail is not a place to make political statements’ they'll say.
Then I remind them that a lot of retailers from Kenneth Cole to Manhattan Mini Storage use their businesses as a platform to take a stand. In fact, in 1969 Dave’s Uncle Miles took an ad in the New York Times on behalf of his business to protest the Vietnam War. Dave's Uncle Miles and Aunt Lillian owned Coach Leather.

Aunt Lillian and Uncle Miles, founders of Coach

Immigration reform is at stake and this small business knows first hand the passion and inimitable  work ethic  that first generation immigrants contribute. How can we be silent?

Me and Mike at the Pro-immigration rally - Union Square
The first person to run our shipping department (basically a desk in the back room) was from the Philippines. And one of our very first visual merchandisers was an amazing talent from Cypress. And then there was our very much loved manager from Slovakia. 

With a lot of patience and time with immigration lawyers  we proudly helped to get them working papers - which eventually turned into green cards.

But then something happened. It was 9-11. Suddenly the rules changed and what was already a tremendous feat became impossible. So it was a very sad day when we said goodbye to a truly unique talent... from Mexico.
I'll call him Renaldo for this blog.

Renaldo helped build Fishs Eddy with his intellect and his fierce, 
I-want-to-be-here, drive. His footprint is still felt. But politicians like Iowa Republican representitive Steve King, think Renaldo is a threat to American jobs - when in fact all Renaldo did was raise the bar for all of us. All Renaldo ever wanted was to pay taxes and be here legally, so he too could be part of the Fishs Eddy team... and the American Dream.

When Renaldo is forced to stay off the grid we all lose. It's hypocritical and downright un-American to turn our backs on the millions of people living in the shadows of a country that was founded on an open door policy. It's time to put the welcome mat back. 

The same welcome mat that was there in 1936 when Dave's Aunt Lillian emigrated from Hungary, came to America and met a young entrepreneur. Together they went on to build an iconic American brand, employing thousands... and of course, giving back. Now it's Renaldo's turn. 

Dave's father (left), Aunt Lillian (right) and the other siblings, shortly after coming to Ellis Island
this is for you Renaldo, wherever you are.

1 comment:

  1. It's not often that a blog chokes me up, but yours did. I hope Renaldo can come back to NYC and Fish's Eddy. What a great story that would make. You inspire all of us!