Thursday, 4 November 2010

In which the retail store I work in decides to publicly advocate drug use. I am less than amused.

Today I received the shock of my life in work, when our Christmas display delivery arrived (as ever, the name of the brand shall remain anonymous). Buried amongst the usual detritus of candles and other stocking fillers was a book entitled 'Mary Jane's Hash Brownies, Hot Pot and other Marijuana Munchies', but sadly this was not a joke. It caused uproar amongst my colleagues and we were all hoping that it had been accidentally packed up by someone in the warehouse, or had been included to keep us on our toes, but then we realised that there was more than one copy in the stock and it had been itemised on the delivery notes. Taking a look inside, it was clear that the cookbook was actually very serious about its intentions, with detailed recipes for dishes such as 'Stoned Salmon' and 'Sky-High Shortbread'. The whole book is angled towards silly humour and blatant drug use, which falls down like a lead balloon with me, as one of my friends was a daily cannabis user for several years. It was neither funny or cool to hear that she needed a fix yet again (so don't let anyone tell you it's not addictive), and to know that she was so dependent on it was frightening and upsetting for everyone around her. Maybe if the buyers responsible for taking this book under the wing of our brand would like to talk to people like her, and realise that this isn't as innocent and carefree as they'd imagined.

I find it utterly irresponsible that an apparently upstanding and professional retail chain, with over seventy UK stores, feels it appropriate to stock anything referring directly to drug use, let alone telling you how to widen your options with that drug. It is not remotely funny to be selling this to a clientele of mainly middle-aged, middle class people with 2.4 children in tow, and it's also dangerous for the brand name if nothing else. To consider yourself above the law and too cool to appeal to the very people who keep your company in business is beyond stupid, in my opinion. A lot of people I work with have suggested that "This would go down better in Brighton," but even in their branch we have no major differentiation with customer type. We do not market ourselves as a 'stoner brand' or try and appeal to reckless teenagers and students; our bestselling lines are on-the-knee dresses, fisherman jumpers, and t-shirts that feature floral motifs. None of those motifs are even close to the cannabis leaf, and nor should they be. It is completely distasteful to sell this product, regardless of the humour attached to it.

At the time of writing, my manager is waiting to hear back from a representative in the buying department as to why this product is intended for sale in our stores. She told me that she will not be selling it unless she is forced to, and I hope she sticks to her principles.

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