They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. We should be extremely flattered then, that Target has chosen to duplicate one of our most popular items, Ice Kabobs. How come we don’t feel so good then?
Target has just unveiled a new line by fashion designer Cynthia Rowley. The “Whim Line” is a collection of summertime party items ranging from table cloths to beach chairs, and yes, ice trays. To say that this tray was “inspired” by our product would be an understatement. Target has even named it the “kabob ice cube tray”. Clever! They have managed to cheapen it though, by making it smaller, using inferior materials, and packaging it in a polybag.
When companies like Target or Ikea release furniture that “looks” like expensive designer originals, many people (and I include myself here) tend to accept it and look the other way because they are making something available to the masses that previously only the elite could enjoy. But that doesn’t diminish the fact that the original design does belong to someone else, and is the product of their ingenuity, investment, risk-taking, blood, sweat, and tears. In this case, the original product isn’t even high-priced; it’s pretty much affordable to everybody – so the Robin Hood metaphor really doesn’t play.
I’m not quite sure how much control Cynthia Rowley or any of the name-brand designers have over their Target lines. This is pure speculation on my part, but I see this as more likely a situation where some gutless Target “merchandiser” bought a bunch of stuff in the specialty market, dumbed it down and squeezed out some of the cost (and quality), coordinated the colors, and sought a designer-for-hire to give it cachet. That’s not how we do things here at Fred & Friends, I can tell you that. We are strongly focused on original ideas, good value, and support of local retail. We really enjoy what we do, and thrive on the wonderful feedback our customers have been giving us.
So, what do YOU think? I’d love to know where our customers think the boundaries of fair competition lie and how you feel about this David vs. Goliath story.
UPDATE: Go see what Blue Ant Studio has compiled on Target’s “inspired” product history. Very interesting dialog from everyone. Thanks.