Is Everything in America Bullsh*t? The J.Crew Story
I took my Korean niece to the Fort Worth stockyards and was absolutely amazed!
The stockyards themselves are a fascinating piece of American history. Established in 1849, they became a massive hub for shipping cattle to the rest of America and they played a huge role in the creation of America’s monstrous beef industry.
By the early 1900s, the stockyards were the largest in the world. The work though was brutal and hard, given the danger of thousands of rushing cattle, the harsh Texas heat and humidity, and what must have been the worst stench known to man.
You would not know this though if you visited the stockyards now, as the entire scene has been turned into a sort of an old west Disneyland, with fake saloons, fake cowboy stuff, fake gunfights, fake cattle drives, fake cowboys, and, of course, Fort Worth Stockyards Christmas tree ornaments.
So, after soaking in all of the nonsense for about an hour, I turned to my well-educated and equally perplexed niece and said, “You see? Everything in America is bullsh*t…” 😊
In any case, I thought of all of this when I read this great story in the WSJ about J.Crew: ‘The Kingdom of Prep’ Review: Putting on Appearances.
TLDR: In what was a stunning example of pure chutzpah, J.Crew completely made up its foundation story as a heritage of “100 years of outfitting rugby, lacrosse, and crew.”
They didn’t outfit anyone other than preppy young people starting in the 1980s, when they were actually founded – with extremely effective marketing, attractive models, and fancy catalogs.
Full disclosure: As a moderately fit aging boomer, I wear J.Crew a lot. And sadly, I think that will be their downfall too, as I suspect I don’t convey the image J.Crew would like to convey.
Fuller disclosure: My wife recently discovered that J.Crew offers a lot of inexpensive mix-and-match outfits, so she too is now a fan. She is an attractive “Xer” though, so she might actually help the brand. 😊
Anyway back to BS history, and there is a lot of it, as this link discusses the 40 most enduring myths in American history.
Among other things, we learn that Walt Disney did not create Mickey Mouse, cowboys didn’t wear cowboy hats, Pocahontas didn’t fall in love with John Smith, Edison did not invent the lightbulb, cars were not invented in America, Lindbergh was not the first to fly across the Atlantic, and the Liberty Bell did not crack on July 4th.
And HERE is a great article that sets out some of the most famous corporate founding myths of all – for Amazon, Microsoft, Apple, Netflix, Google, Tesla, Uber, and Disney.
It is actually kind of sad to learn that these stories are myths, as I fervently believed them all.
Anyway, I thought this info would make for an interesting Friday blog topic, given that we are now learning that so much of what we have been told over the years on all fronts is either wrong or very misleading.
In the 1990s, we all thought the internet and mass communication would democratize information and more readily reveal truths, but the opposite seems to be taking place and many businesses continue to take advantage of America’s gullibility.
As a sidebar, Heejin and I founded JVM Lending to fend off an invasion of space aliens in 2006. It obviously worked too, as none of us has seen a single alien since.
More importantly, this is just another reminder to view anything and everything with a healthy bit of skepticism (and to please enjoy the J.Crew story).
It is also interesting to note that companies seem to do well, no matter how mythical their origin story is, if their products or services are actually worth buying.
Now, back to fighting off space aliens….
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