Kitson Quandary

I was recently in Las Vegas. Not really by choice.  Well, kind of. My better half was attending a convention there and I decided to tag along. Without kids. To be honest, it could have been Beaverlick, Kentucky and I still would have had a great time just having some free time to myself.

I was intrigued by Las Vegas. I had never been before and couldn’t really picture all the things people told me about. Then I got there and began to understand.

Donald Duck takes a break in Las Vegas.

Donald Duck takes a break in Las Vegas.

The best way I can think of to describe it is that things are not what they seem. The friendly Donald Duck posing for pictures with tourists was a sad old man when he removed his head to take a break. A pawn shop that sold Picassos had the very same anniversary ring I had looked at in one of the three (!) Tiffany stores within walking distance on the strip. A tromp l’œil ceiling was so realistic it was impossible to remember that you were actually inside a building. Strange, but fun.

On my last day I did a little shopping. I spied a Kitson boutique and decided to go in. I’m not exactly sure what I was expecting, but I was pleasantly surprised to find a wonderful selection of children’s books, cute costume jewelry, and really lovely salespeople. I decided on a few items of clothing for my kids, including tacky but fun Las Vegas shirts as souvenirs.

I got into the line to pay, wondering if I should have splurged on the pair of earrings I had liked downstairs, when it was my turn at the cash register. It was while the salesgirl was ringing up my purchases that I saw yet another novelty item. A condom with the saying “Immigrants are like sperm. Millions get in but only one actually works.” I froze. Could a trendy boutique store like this really endorse such intolerant and prejudicial ideas? More importantly, what should I do? I was really offended, but . . . I also really wanted the clothes for my kids. And the line up behind me had gotten longer–would it be fair to hold up the other people in the line and express my displeasure to the salesgirl who (most likely) had zero input over the store’s decision to sell this item? I stood there, uncomfortable, unsure. Then I paid for my items and left.

I’m not proud of myself. I wish I could say that I had left my items on the counter, explained the problem, and left. But I didn’t. So I guess this is my apology to the millions of hardworking immigrants all across North America. It’s not much, but hopefully it counts as something. When I started writing this, I Googled the saying and found that a Spencer Gift store in California had sold a shirt with a similar saying in 2010, but due to complaints, removed it from the shelves. I hope that others will complain to Kitson (a letter is next on my to-do list) and maybe they too will realize that it’s inappropriate and will remove it from their shelves. Kitson would still be a super cool (even cooler) boutique. I looked on Kitson’s website and found this statement: Our selection is edited, constantly updating, and fit for a queen. I really hope that the Las Vegas store gets edited and updated soon so that the selection offered is fit for all queens–regardless of where they were born or where they now live.

Las Vegas Trompe L'Eoil

Las Vegas Trompe L’Eoil

Here’s a link to the article about the 2010 Spencer Gifts incident:

And here’s a link to Kitson’s Customer Service page which lists their contact info:

If you would like to contact me about this post or about anything else you’ve read please email me at: judyamy74(at)gmail(dot)com or tweet me @JudyAmy74


2 thoughts on “Kitson Quandary

  1. Hi Judy — I went to the Kitson website to check out the super cool clothes that you were so interested in, and came across something that so offended me that I promptly wrote a letter to the company. I totally get your being offended by the immigrant question. As a former immigrant to the USA (legal alien was my official designation), I saw so much prejudice. At the same time, the USA would stop functioning immediately without all of the immigrants in that country.

    However, the thing that offended me was their expropriation of the name “Cowichan sweater.” This has been a matter of some significant concern by the Cowichan Tribes, who have been feeling at risk of cultural expropriation. They took on the Olympic organizing committee a few years ago, which didn’t even use the name. In this case, they used the name. So, because I am sitting at home avoiding doing the dishes, I had time and energy to write an outraged letter to the company, AND forward a copy to one of the Tribal Council members, to see whether or not Cowichan Tribes was aware, and if not, to make them aware.

    Cultural expropriation didn’t just happen yesterday … It is apparently alive and well today.


  2. Gah! What an offensive thing to have in your store! I am looking forward to hearing how they address your concerns.

    A tip from a *serial complainer* though; next time, take a picture. Very powerful to tweet and share.


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