Wednesday, January 03, 2007

On a routine shopping expedition

Thanks to the informative blog The Consumerist, recent media attention has ensured that in most cases the unfortunately designed t-shirts bearing the Nazi SS Totenkopf image have been removed from store shelves or the database is flagged to not allow the sale of the item. Flagging a product is a common practice in the industry and it is most helpful during a recall. In many cases the vendor is responsible for the removal, replacement or inspecting to allow the sale of an item. Recalls of products are often via lot numbers and the vendor will inspect the product to ensure it is safe for sale and not a part of the recall. Flagging the product in the computer helps ensure that any product not removed or inspected doesn't make it into someone' s meal or dresser drawer.

FYI: If while shopping an item comes up that is "not for sale" don't allow the cashier to go around the system by hand-entering the price, especially if it is a food item. This flag would be different than a product not in the database. Due to shipping schedules, almost daily we get products at our store that are sent to us by vendors for sale that are not in the computers and it takes a few days for our systems to synchronize.

While on a recent trip to the local chain store I tried to get one of the Totenkopf shirts for myself (for culturally historical purposes, I assure you) but it was revealed that the shirts with the inappropriate Nazi symbol were removed.

To my surprise, however, I found several stacks of alternate shirts featuring a mash-up of the SS symbol and a Land of the Lost character, the Sleestak.

There were plenty of these "Totenslee" t-shirts for sale of various sizes and they were not restricted from sale. In response to my questions the clerk informed me that they still had many cases in the back to be stocked. I was delighted to see a t-shirt featuring my namesake that wasn't obviously connected to skateboarding. The design is still derivative of the Totenkopf image but it's saving grace is that it is now more of a humorous pop-culture reference and less of one that has it's roots in genocide and racism. Because of that difference I picked up a few, one to wear and a couple more to seal in large baggies for the speculator market.

I imagine that it would be any day now that because of the similarity to the Nazi iconography that these shirts will also get yanked from the stores. I hear the mouse-clicks of an on-line auction coming!

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