Walmart’s Nazi Tshirts are in the Chicago Tribune, and drawing the ire of members of Congress, thanks to the dogged flow sightings and pictures by Consumerist readers published on this site.
In a letter to Wal-Mart Chief Executive H. Lee Scott Jr., Schakowsky (D-Ill.) asked company officials to tell Congress what steps they are taking to remove the remaining shirts that display the Nazi Totenkopf–the “death head” emblem worn by soldiers in Adolf Hitler’s personal guard–from store shelves. Twenty-one other lawmakers from both parties also signed the letter.
“Everyone agreed that these shirts have to go, including Wal-Mart; it’s just that they didn’t do anything about it,” Schakowsky said. “Either at the time they really weren’t serious, or their capacity to do that is limited, which makes one wonder about recalls of potentially dangerous products.”
…Despite the corporate order, it appears the shirts were never removed from at least three dozen of Wal-Mart’s 3,300 U.S. stores, according to Consumerist.com, which has been tracking discoveries of the shirts….
…Yet as recently as Thursday, bloggers at Consumerist.com were fielding reports from readers who said they had successfully purchased the shirts from Wal-Marts.
“The average blue-vest employee just isn’t aware of it,” said Consumerist.com editor Ben Popken, who explained that when bar codes failed, readers…”
… easily persuaded employees to scan similarly priced items, or did so themselves at self-checkout counters.
Popken says he also blames unconscientious fashion designers, who likely saw the emblem of death as just another in-vogue skull-and-crossbones design, with the added bonus of being a copyright-free image. “The skull-and-crossbones is popular,” he said, “but designers need to be aware of the history of the iconography that they’re appropriating ad hoc.”
Consumerist readers, for the win. A great example of the power of blogs to make a difference. With our low overhead, we’re able to stick with a story and follow it through to the bitter end, even after the AP and CNN wrote it off as a done deal. We collected reports from readers across the country, slowly compiling evidence of Walmart’s unwillingness and/or inability to properly conduct a product recall. A hill source tells us that Walmart Watch, who reads The Consumerist, were the ones that tipped off Schakowsky’s office.
Presumably after the issue reached a peak (we think mention of the issue in our recent article in the New York Times probably was the catalyst), they were able to point to our mountain of evidence and get Schakowsky, and the members of Congress who joined her, involved.
Way to go peoples. Looking forward to seeing how we can apply what we learned from this campaign to the next one. — BEN POPKEN
Wal-Mart under fire again for T-shirts with Nazi logo [Chicago Tribune]