Imagine your go-to local business – retailer, restaurant, activity, anything. You love the owner, the service they’ve provided you for years, the quality of the product. You recommend them to everyone and anyone. They are practically family, right? Imagine that a few towns over on either side, someone with two shops in the same category re-names those shops with the exact same name as your favorite one. And what if you became aware that the owner knew of the duplication, and refused to change the name? Doesn’t seem right, does it?Well, we try to stay as positive as possible in this forum, but unfortunately we now feel compelled to “talk Shift” because this scenario is exactly what has gone down recently between Shift, a retail business located since 2009 in Hyannis and with a strong online presence, and a store formerly known as Resort with locations in Mashpee Commons and Chatham Main Street that changed its signage to “Shift” in early 2017. They operate under the Boston-based umbrella brand In The Pink: a Lilly Pulitzer® Signature Store which has stores all over New England.
While Amanda, the owner of the original Shift in Hyannis, had been aware that the same owner had operated a boutique on Nantucket also called Shift beginning in 2010, she let it be out of good faith at that time. Their distance from her Hyannis store, being in another county, and lack of online presence would not create issues for her brand. Other than the occasional confusion about returning a product, it hasn’t been too much of a problem, until now. Fast forward to 2017 and Resort’s decision to re-brand on Cape Cod as “Shift”: there have been at least fifteen documented instances of customer confusion since April, and the owners of the stores f.k.a. Resort have ignored multiple (respectful) outreaches by Amanda to resolve the matter. There are reasons to believe that the owners were well aware of her brand and its location in close proximity to their recently re-branded stores.
Bottom line: it’s just not cool. But there are important reasons why this all matters, and they apply to any of your favorite local businesses, owned by your hard-working friends, family and neighbors:
- Establishing a brand anywhere but especially in a relatively seasonal environment like Cape Cod is extremely hard. It’s more than a logo. Here’s where we, Amanda’s partners, are speaking on her behalf: we know the literal blood, sweat, tears, and plain hard work it has taken since 2009 to establish her brand Shift through advertising, social media, and service. There is no one more dedicated to our local community, who puts time, effort and donations back into the entire Cape consistently to make it a better place. Every dollar spent at Shift is re-invested in another Cape Cod business or non-profit. Fact. When you support (the real) Shift, or truly local brands like Shift who pour the minimal resources they have back into our community, you are doing the right thing.
- For most local businesses owners, their name means something. Shift – the OG Shift – is no exception. It represents a movement and an effort to change the way Americans currently consume to one that is better for people and the planet – so important on our fragile sandbar. Amanda is dedicated to shifting the way people think about shopping, shifting their awareness to know where their clothes are made and who is making them. Since establishing Shift in 2009, Amanda has helped hundreds of consumers realize that they can make a difference in the local, national and global economy through the purchases they make and change their habits. The other stores have no such mission, making their sudden name change all the more unnecessary. Of course, as a fashion term, it’s a style of dress – totally appropriate for a store that has long specialized in eco-friendly women’s fashion as well as home goods, baby goods and furniture.
- Last but certainly not least – it is trademark infringement. Shift in Hyannis holds the trademark for the name in the State of Massachusetts. The business has been operating under that name and using it to represent the brand for nearly eight years. And herein lies the rub … pursuing legal action is extremely costly, something that a small local business is not well-positioned to do against a larger corporate entity (remember when we took up a similar stand for our friends at Cape Cloth in their David v Goliath fight?).
This is where you come in. Please, please, please … put your money where your heart is, here on Cape Cod with the people who are working day in and day out to make this the best possible place for all who want a future here. Don’t let people win who are willing to turn a blind eye to their new neighbors in the name of profit.