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CafePress Gives Shopkeepers Choice Without Information

As you may already know, CafePress has recently decided to discontinue offering an American Apparel shirt and replace it with a “CafePress Exclusive Label” branded shirt. To this point, CafePress has declined to disclose from where its new “CafePress Exclusive Label” shirts will be produced, and under what conditions. CafePress Director of Merchandising Cindy Clarke offered an explanation to me in an e-mail, then cut and paste that explanation word for word into a CafePress message board. I think we can assume, therefore, that it isn’t an off-the-cuff remark but the result of some deliberation. Here’s the explanation:

I understand your concerns. CafePress shopkeepers require a broad spectrum of product choices to build their product assortments. Since our objective is to cover as many of those shopkeeper requirements as possible, some of the items that we source are domestic and some are sourced internationally. Likewise, our product assortment covers both branded and CafePress Exclusive Label items to meet the broad demand. We leave it up to Shopkeepers to determine which products are appropriate for their shops. CafePress services as many Shopkeepers as possible both legally and ethically.

The phrase “we leave it up to Shopkeepers to determine which products are appropriate for their shops” sounds deliciously freeing, like some kind of Burger Kingish have-it-your-way ethical libertarianism. But there’s a more-than-teensy problem here: shopkeepers who work through Cafepress cannot determine which products are appropriate for their shops to the extent that CafePress withholds information about those products and their production. It’s like asking someone to choose an employee without giving them access to a resume, or asking a consumer to buy a computer without providing access to a specifications sheet — a person simply can’t make an informed determination without information.

It’s not as if CafePress doesn’t know where its shirts come from, and it either knows the conditions under which those shirts are made (which CafePress surely wouldn’t mind sharing if the shirts are really made “both legally and ethically”), or it doesn’t know the conditions under which those shirts are made (in which case we really have to wonder about CafePress’ judgment).

So if you haven’t already, send an e-mail on today to:

a) Cindy Clarke, Director of Merchandise for CafePress, at cclarke@cafepress.com.
b) smart07@cafepress.com — the special e-mail account which CafePress has specifically created to take further questions about new merchandise

… and ask when information about the CafePress Exclusive Label brand apparel’s production will be shared with the people who are expected to sell it.

3 comments to CafePress Gives Shopkeepers Choice Without Information

  • John Stracke

    It’s not as if CafePress doesn’t know where its shirts come from

    I suspect the problem is that they want to be able to change suppliers on the fly, or mix suppliers, and so they don’t want to make promises that will prevent them from switching.The “broad spectrum of product choices” line would actually make some sense if they had a broad spectrum. As it is, you can choose between clothes you know were made in a sweatshop and clothes you can only wonder about.I think I’ll shut down my CafePress stores Real Soon Now. It’s not as if I’m making money.

  • irregular ally

    I think that it’s safe to assume that if a clothing supplier won’t promise that their clothes are sweatshop free, that the clothes are likely made in a sweatshop. Ethically, it seems quite safe to assume that CafePress clothes are sweatshop unless they specifically state otherwise.

    Organic shirts, spaghetti tanks, made-in-USA fitted Ts, and raglans are okay there. Avoid everything else.

  • The Animist

    John and Ally, you guys are like a team or someting.

    It’s kind of like that time that bush said he would allow one of his underlings (I think it was Rove) to speak to the Supreme Court as long as he didn’t have to swear an oath to tell the truth.

    I remember the story being here somewhere…

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