Animal Writes
© sm
3 February 1999 Issue

The Neiman Marcus Campaign
by Paul Shapiro, Compassion Over Killing (COK)

Due to the nature of grassroots organizing, when working alone, it can often be
hard to gather the sufficient amount of energy necessary to organize effective
campaigns that bring about serious changes to humanity's attitudes and actions
toward other animals. Too frequently, grassroots animal rights organizations work
independently of each other, each group working on separate issues, thereby
minimizing the potential impact we as a movement can have. However, the
Neiman Marcus campaign provides us with an opportunity to have a serious
impact on the business policy of a multinational corporation while using the
campaign to generate publicity for the anti-fur (and therefore animal rights)

Goals of the Campaign

The purpose of the campaign is twofold. The primary goal is to convince Neiman
Marcus to stop selling fur products. This includes not only fur coats, but any
product that contains the fur of a once-living animal (e.g., fur trim, etc.). The
campaign is not limited to any one Neiman Marcus location in particular, but
rather is calling for all 31 Neiman Marcus stores to adopt a more compassionate
business policy by not selling any fur products. Until this goal is achieved, the
animal rights movement is calling for a boycott of all Neiman Marcus products.
The secondary goal of the campaign is to shed light on the horrific animal abuse
committed by the fur industry by generating enough publicity to throw the fur issue
back into the national spotlight.

Why a Neiman Marcus Campaign?

In past years, many grassroots groups (COK included) have focused much
attention on small furriers with the hopes of convincing them to stop selling fur.
First, it should be noted that very few of these campaigns have ever succeeded.
With only a couple of exceptions, all of the furriers targeted are still profiting off the
lives of innocent animals. However, even if grassroots groups did have the potential
to convince small furriers to stop selling fur and succeeded in doing so, the overall
effect suffered by the fur industry would still be negligible. The majority of fur is
sold in department stores like Neiman Marcus and Macy’s East. Smaller “mom
and pop” stores contribute only a minimal percentage to the fur industry's annual

Now, compare the difficulty of convincing a company to stop selling the only
product it offers and convincing a company to merely stop selling one of hundreds
of its products. Needless to say, the latter option is much more feasible. Now,
compare the overall effect on the fur industry of stopping one small store from
selling fur, or stopping an entire chain (in Neiman Marcus’ case, 31 stores). Again,
the latter option would have a greater impact on the industry as a whole. Indeed,
ridding department stores of fur products seems to be the best way to hit the fur
industry where it hurts most. Only after stores like Neiman Marcus and Macy’s
East give up fur products should we begin to target smaller, less significant stores.

What It Will Take . . .

The tactic of focusing on department stores is not new, by any means.
Grassroots activism on the West Coast convinced Macy’s West to close their fur
departments for good. A well-organized Neiman Marcus campaign could do the
same. However, the key word is organized. Random protesting with occasional
acts of civil disobedience are not going to provide sufficient incentive for Neimans
to close its fur departments.

What is needed to achieve our primary objective is the united and concentrated
effort of the entire grassroots community — not just a few groups working on the
campaign, not just working on it during the winter months, not just focusing on
both Neimans and small furriers as well. In order to win this campaign, all of our
anti-fur resources must be pooled and directed at Neiman Marcus and Macy’s
East. It may take a long time, possibly even years. But what's the alternative?
The abolition of animal exploitation will not come overnight. The struggle for animal
rights requires a long-term commitment from anyone seriously interested in
promoting freedom and justice for all. Ridding Neiman Marcus of fur is a giant step
toward obtaining that goal.

We don't have the resources many national organizations possess. To make up
for our seemingly small numbers, the grassroots community must unite and
struggle for the common goal of making Neiman Marcus fur-free.

Compassion in Action!

To further the campaign to get fur out of Neiman Marcus, COK has:

* Created a Neiman Marcus parody Web site at:

* Created and distributed thousands of our Why Should I Boycott Neiman Marcus?
brochure (visit COK's Web site at to learn how to order

* Created a professional banner reading, Fur Is Murder—Boycott Neiman Marcus!

* Organized numerous demonstrations outside the Washington, D.C. Neiman
Marcus location...

* On August 29, about 40 COK activists staged a protest in front of Neiman
Marcus, attempting both to educate the public about the horrors of the fur industry
and to convince Neimans to close its fur departments.

* Nearly 30 activists returned to Neiman Marcus on September 12 to picket,
chant, and distribute hundreds of the Why Should I Boycott Neiman Marcus?

* Taking advantage of the holiday sales that usually attract higher consumer
volume, COK activists converged upon Neiman Marcus on October 10,
spreading the anti-fur message to thousands of potential Neimans customers.

* On October 24, more than 25 COK activists held another protest at Neiman
Marcus, furthering the campaign to convince them to stop selling fur products.

* On November 14, nearly 35 protesters took to the sidewalk in front of Neiman
Marcus, demanding that they cease profiting off the torture and deaths of
countless fur-bearing animals.

Take Action!

* Boycott Neiman Marcus until it stops selling fur products.

* Call Neiman Marcus toll-free at 1-800-937-9146 (ask for the executive office) and
tell them that you won’t tolerate torturing and killing animals for vanity and are
boycotting Neiman Marcus until it wipes its hands clean of the cruelty inherent to
the fur trade.

* Organize public demonstrations outside of your local Neiman Marcus aimed at
persuading them to choose a more compassionate business policy. Contact COK
for literature to distribute in your area. Visit our Web site at:
or e-mail us at
[email protected]

Compassion Over Killing (COK) is Washington, D.C.'s only grassroots animal
rights organization. Founded in 1995, COK, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization,
believes in granting basic rights to sentient nonhuman animals and, therefore, in
ending institutionalized animal exploitation.

To this end, COK's main function lies in organizing public protests, educating
consumers, and actively working to promote nonviolence toward all sentient

Compassion Over Killing
P.O. Box 9773
Washington, DC 20016 U.S.A.

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