This story out of Johnson City, Tenn. — just west of Knoxville, 61,000 souls — hits a nerve. How so? Because I wore a “NoBama 08” baseball cap around Oak Park during last year’s campaign and had a number of people ask me where I got it. A number of others gave me a hi-sign when they saw it. Others gawked. Two people objected.
One, the counter woman at USA Liquors at Harlem and Madison, took me to task, as did an OPRF student on her way to school, very briefly. Neither were anything but good-natured about it. But if I were looking for something to go with my cap now in Johnson City, I’d be out of luck.
Dan Fuchs used to sell such items in the Johnson City mall, where business was just starting to pick up and he was looking forward to the Christmas season.
One of Fuchs’ anti-Obama T-shirt designs.
[His] business, the Graphic Edge, printed slogans and pictures on items such as coffee cups, bumper stickers and T-shirts. He said more than half of his business came from the sale of anti-Obama merchandise. Bumper stickers with slogans such as “SOS: Stop Obama’s Socialism,” “Nobama,” and “Chicago got the party, but the country got the hangover” were displayed around the small stand.
Now it appears Fuchs is out of business at the mall, but mall officials say this decision was not based upon political views.
Fuchs thinks so. He says
mall officials . . . told him to take down the anti-Obama items on display by closing time or face immediate eviction [on Thursday].
That’s not how it happened, said Marsha Hammond, the mall’s marketing director.
Mall General Manager Tembra Aldridge and Melinda Davis, the mall’s specialty leasing representative, suggested that Fuchs also display items in support of Obama. The mall had received several complaints from customers regarding the anti-Obama items, she said. Hammond also said that it was Fuchs’ decision to remove the items completely from display.
Nope, says Fuchs.
“I was given no choice. I was given . . . the option of taking it down or get out, receive an eviction at closing time.”
His had been a market decision to stock the anti-Obama merchandise, which had grown to 60% of his stock. He
hadn’t initially set out to create anti-Obama items. One day . . . a customer asked for an anti-Obama shirt to be printed. A few days later . . . another customer asked for another similar item.
Then some of these items were put on display . . . most were completed upon customer request, Fuchs said.
Most got a kick out of the materials.
“People would look at them and laugh or whatever, and I would always ask ‘what do you think about it? Do you approve?’ or some silly little remark,” he said. “I would say that probably 95 percent were positive, only 5 percent were not.”
Here in Oak Park, the responses would be pretty much reversed. But if there were such a vendor with such a product, in Oak Park he would have been allowed to continue, as long as he paid the rent, right?
I mean, look, didn’t that ex-homosexual Christian fellow have his day in the sun (at Buzz Cafe) talking up his book on changing one’s life style? Didn’t he? He didn’t? Hmmm.
Ah. One more thing. This Fuchs fellow, gone from the mall, says he’s going to sell his stuff on the Internet, which is where I found my NoBama ‘08 cap, I forget exactly where. It might have been here. Or here, where the motto is
Voice your concerns over the President’s direction with anti-Obama designs from our community.
Is this still a great country, or what?