In a dramatic move, and after 111 years in downtown Portland, Schumacher Fur and Outerwear--a fourth-generation fur salon--is leaving town. This announcement comes just four days after 200 activists took over the Portland streets in their annual, police-escorted Fur Free Friday march. The spirited event to raise awareness about the brutality of the fur industry was also a one-year anniversary party of a hugely successful education outreach campaign, complete with vegan cake, celebrating the weekly demonstrations on the sidewalk outside Schumachers.
IDA has encouraged activists to peacefully participate with other advocates in this grassroots effort to educate Portlanders about fur, and the fur has been flying. The media can't get enough of the drama that has been created by Gregg and Linda Schumacher, the store's proprietors, including gross exaggerations of the protesters' behavior. IDA has been there every step of the way to remind the public that it is fur-bearing animals, not the Schumachers, who are the real victims.
Schumacher has threatened a lawsuit against the city, claiming that animal advocates were breaking city ordinances - blocking sidewalks, harassing customers, and trespassing - while outside their store. The accusations became so contentious that the city had to station a police officer on the sidewalk across the street during the entire demonstration to prove that no laws were being broken, and to protect everyone's interests, including the activists' right to free speech.
Now that this outreach campaign has built amazing momentum, and the Schumacher's storefront will no longer be our platform, the media outlets are all echoing the same question to the animal community: "What's next?" For IDA, we will be talking with community leaders, sharing the encouraging results of a survey we are conducting that proves Portlanders overwhelmingly want to shun fur. Where this conversation will go we don't yet know, but we will continue to promote a plan to put a consumer warning tag on all fur sold in Portland that tells how the animals live and die, or perhaps even propose a city-wide ban of fur sales.
And what is to come of Schumacher Furs? To date they have refused to disclose any specifics about an alleged new mall location outside the city where protesting would not be allowed. Perhaps the Schumachers are having trouble finding a real estate investor willing to stomach the suffering their business represents? As recently reported in a local weekly newspaper, Willamette Week, "Any rumor about a move to Bridgeport Village in Washington County was quelled by a call to Fred Bruning, president of CenterCal, which owns the upscale shopping center. 'That's not a tenant we'd want to have on our property because I'd be one of the protesters, probably,' said Bruning."
And the real victory need not be measured in moving sales, because this year-long outreach and the media story it sustained has been worth every one of the hundreds of hours dedicated activists have spent teaching the public about the importance of compassion.
Learn more about the cruelty of fur and check out the recent flurry of furry news stories, editorials and letters to the editor grabbing headlines in the Portland press just in the past couple of weeks.
Portland Mercury - Anti-Fur Protesters Still Rallying, One Year Later
The Oregonian - Fur store says its had enough
KGW Channel 8 - Fur Store Owner: Terror Charges for Activists
Portland Tribune - Furriers exit leaves sore spot
Portland Mercury Blog Town PDX - Schumacher allegedly EVICTED - not "leaving"
The Oregonian - Activist looks beyond fur shop's move
The Oregonian - A missed opportunity
The Oregonian - Downtown prospects called bright (Fur store reaction -- Businesses and property owners say their top worry is surviving intense construction)
The Oregonian - Fur fight: Store's exit bares larger issues
The Oregonian - So much for the fur flying downtown