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Always a Thief

Mid-January 2021

Always a Thief: Corporate Slave Trade Ralph Lauren, Fenton, Country Curtains, LL Bean, Nordstrom: The Family Business that got ruined by their own family. For some of those capitalist enterprises, the next generation bungled the century-old business within a mere matter of years! Blood relatives cannot always be trusted; I could write a book on that one, but, for some bizarre reason, the Family Business Founder refuses to consider outside help when it comes to passing on the torch to the scions who proceed to torch Dad’s Empire or Mom’s Merchandizing Megalith. Of course, there is the other extreme, the CEO who just won’t go. Martha’s cold dead stiff claws shall have to be pried off of her Living Brand. The Lands’ End heirs got financially smart and cashed out, selling the phenomenally American company to Sears. It was all downhill from there, but the next-generation at least did not have to suffer through the endless degradation of a free-market enterprise dying through lack of free-market principles, free-markets, and free enterprise.

I suppose this atrocious occurrence from one generation to the next has occurred throughout the history of U.S. Retail Merchandise, especially post-NYC Garment Industry; and even within the Sphere of Services in a sector that has become oppressively corporatized throughout America. As a tea-drinker and occasional coffee drinker, I am more than fine buying Black Rifle Coffee, cause, for decades, I derided Starbucks as burnt coffee beans specializing in the lukewarm pour-over at inflated prices. Then Starbucks got into the Faux-Morality Business, or maybe they were always there. I think they are now getting the business, from all of those Americans who got fed up with being fed tripe up to their ______. You fill-in-the-blank! One by one by one by one, during the past decade, those American Clothing and Household Goods Companies got scratched off my List of Retailers. This past summer alone witnessed me tossing overboard so much of Ralph Lauren. Ralphie, Sir Ralphie, the marketing genius of American Originals, he and I have split the blankets.

I could not afford to buy from Ralphie during his hey-days that were the direct economic result of The Reagan Economy. During the past few years, however, I finally got a few extra spending C-notes — which is the $100 bill — for those not familiar with East Coast slang, especially race-track and gambling terminology. (The Ben Big-head is pathetic and pitiful compared to Historic Ben of Taste and Tradition, just like the Modern Millennial Merchandise and Merchandizing!) I thereupon bought a plethora of Vintage Ralphie from online vintage-clothing shops. Purchasing Quality Goods from the past helped me to feel good and up-to-date about my future. I also purchased, usually on sale, until early 2020, the wares of this corporation that still offered better Stuff than the Others. The next generation had taken over. It’s been a dog’s breakfast ever since that event — which occurred before the COVID-Excuse (although it’s being used). Tissue-thin tee-shirts, scratchy stiff polyester, irregular and weird sizing, shrink-wrap cotton everything. And the slavish faux-concern that The Corporation Is Not Doing Enough to Solve Racism, Bigotry, Sexism, the Climate Crisis. This past August, the Self-Flagellating Corporate Email was sent to me: We had the Conversation. We listened. We heard. And we did not know we were such a racist company. Here is what we are doing to purify our corporate souls.

My reply was: I didn’t know you were such a racist company either, so I guess I won’t buy from you. In retrospect, I’m sorry I bought from you. Now, what can I do to cleanse my soul? Cause if there is one thing I automatically thought of, whenever I used to think of the RL brand, it was: Dreadful Dread-locked Boy in the ‘Hood, Wearing a Blazer with a RL Crest, a Long-Island Tennis Sweater, and a Tartan Shirt! Oh, well, I will always have the Vintage Ralphie, and the memories of what-once-was that I never had. Breaking up is not always hard to do! Sometimes it feels pretty darn good. Last week, to cleanse my capitalist soul, I de-China-ized my Closet. There were perhaps a dozen articles of apparel that had somehow managed to survive previous purges of the past year. Cause when Debra goes on a tear, especially a fabric one — Katie bar the door! Previous Clearings of Debra’s Closet had gone to Goodwill. There was no good will in this project. The plastic-y melanges of spandex and slave-labor-fibers went straight into the garbage.

Clothes made with Uighur cotton ain’t the same as clothes made of Egyptian or Portuguese — or even American — cotton. The difference is not merely in the thread-count or the feel of the wretched textile against your skin. The difference is in morality. To buy Fashion and Home Merchandise made in China and marketed by American Companies is to enable, condone, support and encourage the slavery of foreign peoples — committed by the very people who deem themselves so righteously righteous and superior when it comes to human rights, to any rights. The only rights those blood-sucking, money-obsessed, two-faced parasites have is a right-to-life, the one given to them by the Almighty, and I daresay that God is at work on those fates. I am presently at work on the fate of my closet. In late November, I ordered some cotton raiments made of amazing 100% cotton from a place in North America called Cotton Mill. I must have forgotten to change the shipping address, because the package was sent to my previous shipping address. Sometime around Christmas, the thing arrived at the Dump-of-a-Rental in Auburn, CA. From afar, I wished that guy and his young children a Very Merry Christmas! I thence ordered more of those 100% heavy cotton zip-neck polo sweatshirts in the Men’s Size, to be sent to my Current Address. Incredible quality minus the corporate condescension and crap.

My closet also boasts of a regal pair of Goddess Slippers from Sickafus Sheepskins in Pennsylvania. That family-owned business, for over 50 years, has been creating, crafting and selling shearling coats and shearling products for anyone willing to buy quality. The Marlboro-man shearling coat from Sickafus was my Christmas 2017 gift from Dear Husband. The All-American quality came, with All-American patriotic pride, from the foothills of the Pennsylvania Blue Mountains to the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. Since that coat entered my coat-closet-life, a bustling arena of many looks and identities, I have purchased hats and slippers from Sickafus, a capitalist venture that offers exquisite quality at half the corporate price. Their sheepskin coats are sold at-wholesale price to the customer. The customers are buying a whole lot of their coats. Half of their purchases are from return customers! If you are sick of the corporate fist, taking your hard-earned money and shafting you on quality, go Sickafus! Since highway retail robbery has gone corporate in America, there is a small-business for just about anything in this proud and free land. This merchant of sumptuous coats is located on Route 78, Strausstown Exit 19, in Pennsylvania. Just 2 hours away from the Newark Airport. Having spent too many hours in the Newark Airport, I recommend a distance of at least 2 hours from that pit.

There is a precious piece of dialogue that comes to mind whenever I grant myself the liberty-opportunity of buying American-made goods for this American. Those words are uttered with utter elegance and charm by the late Keith Michell, in Season 6, Episode 19 of Murder She Wrote. The title is “Always A Thief”. I do believe that phrase, as well as the sublime phrasing, of these lines, perfectly express the Current Crisis of Retail Reality in America. The import of these words and the immaculate diction evince a serenity that I hope to achieve . . . soon. I contemplate these succinct truths on an almost-daily basis, in the face of Hypocrisy-Gone-Corporate: “Now, the Son is a man with a talent for bankruptcy. Where the Father managed to grow a Mighty Oak, the Son has managed to whittle it down to a pile of tooth picks.” Of bamboo, not Heritage Oaks!


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