November 11, 2014 7:43 pm
Updated: November 12, 2014 12:21 am

Retailers face backlash after offering Remembrance Day sales

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People are often looking for a good deal or sale. But one recent limited time promotion has some Canadians feeling out of sorts.

A number of Gap customers received an email recently advertising its Remembrance Day deal – a puffer vest for $19.99.

Crocs and Motherhood Maternity also advertised sales. One offers a buy-one-get-one-50%-off ‘Remembrance Day deal,’ and the other a buy-one-get-one-free.

Meredith Mednick, who received an email from Gap told Global News, she finds them to be in bad taste.

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“I was pretty taken aback that they would have taken advantage of Remembrance Day as a day to kind of make a profit. When I looked back on it throughout the day, I realized they probably equated Remembrance Day to Veterans Day, where in America it is very different,” she said. “However I felt that somebody didn’t do their job, didn’t do their research into what Remembrance Day means for Canadians.”

Mednick has a brother who has been in the armed forces for the past 12 years. He served in Afghanistan in 2006-2007, and is currently a reservist in Toronto.

After Mednick received the email from Gap, she forwarded it to her brother.

“It’s frustrating, it certainly takes away from what this day really is about which is remembering,” Cpl. Chuck Krangle told Global News. “The title of the day says it all, Remembrance Day. It’s not a day to go shopping, it’s not a holiday. It’s a day to spend with your family, go out to a ceremony if you can make it and remember… remember the sacrifices, remember the injured, and remember the guys and gals that didn’t come home.”

“It begins as a protest by soldiers about remembrance, about never forgetting, we will remember them is the motto of Remembrance Day. It is a very solemn memorial, it’s not at all a holiday,” said Peter Vronsky, an investigative historian at Ryerson University. “Canadians have made enormous sacrifices, especially in the two World Wars. These are apocalyptic battles in which young Canadian soldiers gave up their lives and sacrificed their lives.”

Vronsky says Canadians see their soldiers as their own brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers. Anything that disrespects that, like a retail deal to make money, is a cause for concern.

“What Canadians are worried about is the possible trivialization of this memorial and what it means. You have to remember that Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, Halloween, were all very solemn memorial days. But gradually in this world of ours, they have been commercialized, so I think Canadians are offended by this possibility of Remembrance Day becoming another Thanksgiving, Christmas holiday. It’s not a holiday”, Vronsky says.

Katy Lachky Micheal, Vice President of Communications at Crocs said, “As a brand committed to our Canadian customers, we recognize that today is a day for solemn remembrance and we regret our ill-timed online event. We appreciate the feedback we’ve received. We have ended this event and join Canadians today in remembering and respecting the sacrifices of Canada’s military veterans and their families.”

Crocs has since removed the deal from its website.

Debbie Felix, a spokesperson for Gap Inc., told Global News in a statement: “We did not intend to offend anyone and we apologize if that has been the case. We fell short in our recent Gap Factory marketing email and we are committed to doing better in the future.”

Mednick also sent an email to Gap customer service. A day later she received a detailed apology that read: “It is never our intention to upset our customers and we mean no disrespect. We have the utmost respect for the military and hold them in the highest regard. We do, however, have a sale on every holiday. I apologize this one seems distasteful.”

Mednick said Remembrance Day is not a holiday and Gap as well as other retail stores that put up a Remembrance Day deal or sale need to understand that, and change that mindset. She said it is a day to commemorate those lost, those fighting, and those who fought – something Mednick says she has done since she was a child.

“For me it means a time to remember and reflect. It’s made a significant impact in my life since my brother has been in the military and returned (home),” she said. “It’s changed how I feel, however I always remember taking the time to reflect as a little kid. Now it just takes a full on different meaning.”

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