Urban Outfitters' latest public fuck-up: asking its salaried employees to volunteer... packing boxes in its fulfillment center.
Gawker has released an email sent on Tuesday to salaried Urban Outfitters employees who work in the company's Philadelphia corporate headquarters, with the subject line "A Call for URBN Volunteers!"
URBN is seeking weekend volunteers to help out at our fulfillment center in Gap, PA. October will be the busiest month yet for the center, and we need additional helping hands to ensure the timely shipment of orders. As a volunteer, you will work side by side with your GFC colleagues to help pick, pack and ship orders for our wholesale and direct customers.
In addition to servicing the needs of our customers, it's a great way to experience our fulfillment operations first hand. Get your co-workers together for a team building activity!
The happily written request to employees essentially asks them to do a job that paid employees actually do; according to LancasterOnline, the Pennsylvania fulfillment center, where employees package orders for shipping, is over a million square feet with a capacity to reach 1,500 workers.
Urban Outfitters, for what it's worth, is certain its employees are happy about the opportunity. "Unsurprisingly, we received a tremendous response, including many of our senior management," the company said in a comment to Gawker. They also note that hourly employees were happy to help but weren't enlisted for labor law reasons. (Mic reached out for additional details.)
If Urban wants to appeal to young people... Even if some Urban employees are eager to pack boxes in their downtime, this doesn't look good for Urban Outfitters — and Urban is already a company with more than a few bad looks, as both an employer and a place to shop, particularly in an age when "ethical" shopping is only growing in importance for young shoppers.
As a place to work, the company — which also owns Free People and Anthropologie — has a reputation thanks to its CEO, who has donated to anti-gay political candidates, including former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum. The company has also been accused of ignoring harassment reports of female store employees, and has notoriously few women on its board of directors and executive staff.
But more offensive, it would seem, are the seemingly endless list of products that Urban Outfitters has sold that have managed to piss off just about anyone. From the brands that accuse Urban from hijacking their iconography — the Navajo Nation sued over trademark theft in 2012, while Harley Davidson sued in 2014 for "flagrant violations" of its standards — to the cultural groups that feel mocked, Urban seems to specialize in ruffling feathers.
Take the insensitive Kent State sweatshirt that appeared to be spattered with blood, or the Irish-themed clothing that cast the Irish as drunkards, or the star-emblazoned T-shirt that evoked the Holocaust, or the kitschy drinking accessories packaged as prescription drugs and many more instances. (What a pleasant walk down memory lane...)
It's no surprise, then, that Urban Outfitters is hurting. Apparently the millennials who were raised on the brand — and work in its stores — are no longer shelling out the cash for those flimsy dresses, fake leather bags and questionable T-shirts. "Urban's prices are a little out of [the typical 23-year-old customer's] reach," retail consultant Judith Russell wrote in a recent report, Business Insider reports.
Especially if she's not being paid for her work.