Isabel Bloom's owners do a head fake
Good news. Some Isabel Bloom production will remain in the Quad Cities.
Citing the uproar over their decision in response to a dip in the "gifting" industry to uproot and ship all production to sweat-shop labor in China, owners Tom Carter, Hunt Harris, and Jeff Gilfillan, who seems to be the designated spokesman for the group, have made a decision to keep at least part of the production facilities here.
Two articles address the decision in the Dispatch, though only one of them list the other two owners besides Gilfilan. One includes glowing assessments of these "three fine businessmen", a strange way to describe the guys who were villains to the area only 24 hours ago. I guess it's an effort to help along the obvious PR offensive this is designed to be.
Their plans to move operations to China are still ongoing. It appears that they realized that the cost to keep a small presense in the QCs was worth an attempt to erase all the bad PR they attracted by their initial decision, and the Dispatch seems happy to help out.
But, showing more PR accumen than the Bush administration and Republican party and candidates that Hunt Harris has steadfastly supported financially and otherwise, they at least fess up to having misread things and having made a mistake.
Area Isabel Bloom fans met news of the company's about-face on sending production of the Quad-Cities icon to China as a pleasant and surprising turn of events.
In a statement released Tuesday, Isabel Bloom LLC announced it would keep its Quad-Cities production line, and expand production of some products overseas as part of the company's efforts expand in the market.
"Thank you for caring -- for showing us the depth of your local pride and passion for Isabel Bloom sculptures. ... We listened and learned," said an apology, addressed to customers on the Isabel Bloom Web site. "The community's response underscores our recommitment to offering distinctive, locally made artwork."
Isabel Bloom LLC, owned by Tom Carter, Jeff Gilfillan and Hunt Harris, cited "enormous marketplace pressures in the gifting industry," in the decision to move production to China early this summer. Outraged community members flooded local media outlets with e-mails, phone calls and letters voicing their disapproval and feelings of betrayal.
Donald A. Lewis, Moline, vowed never to step inside an Isabel Bloom store again when the company announced their overseas expansion plans. He was overjoyed, Tuesday with the news that the company would stay in the Quad Cities.
"I'm ecstatic! It's a wonderful thing that these three fine businessmen, after hearing the community, reconsidered," said Mr. Lewis. "It's wonderful! That's the way it should be.'
In response to the announcement that Isabel Bloom, has "listened and learned," local blogs were buzzing with responses. A few people are skeptical that the Quad-Cities has just been victim of a public relations stunt, but most are just happy the company is staying put.
"I'm pleasantly surprised," said Lee Strobehn, Rock Island. "That's rare. It’s really rare (that company executives would listen to the community) it tells a lot about them."
The company will continue to explore overseas options, but they are apologetic for the "turmoil" employees, customers and the community as a whole endured over the last two weeks.
"We apologize for failing to fully recognize the priorities of our local customers and we accept full responsibility for this error in judgment," said Mr. Gilfillan in a released statement.