Sunday, May 17, 2009

Ladies and Gentlemen - The Vermont Country Store

Shortly after H&S launched their Shock & Awe Campaign back at the end of March, we received a bunch of emails from people urging us not to give up. This stupid Bozo Project had really resonated with folks. I think it was clear that we were the little guys in this battle so no one wanted to see us quit or be squashed. Matt and I weren’t sure what our next move was going to be – or if there was going to be one – but I started to do some field research. How could we retaliate if we chose to? Would we need a cache of Bozos? If so, where the hell were they going to come from and more importantly, who was going to pay for it? Thus far, all Bozo Project-related expenses were paid out of pocket (by me). Although the Bozo Project was based inside my office and our company (VideoHelper) was more than tolerating Matt’s and my clear display of mental illness, I couldn’t very well expect them to foot the bill.

Enter: the Vermont Country Store. I had purchased Bozos 4 & 5 through them ( and figured they were worth a shot in asking for any kind of discount and/or free Bozos to support our project. Two other companies had flatly refused. One offered me an exceptionally generous “5% discount” which by my calculations equaled a pile of diarrhea. I emailed The Vermont Country Store’s customer service department, explained the situation, sent some of the media coverage links and asked for their support.

I promptly received a nice rejection email. Oh well. I took it as a sign to forget it. I think they thought it was some kind of scam. But then…two days later I received a voicemail from a bigwig at the Vermont Country Store telling me that they’d received my email and would like to help. I was kind of skeptical at that point and didn’t return the call. So they called again. This time it was their PR firm. I thought it was a joke. But the Vermont Country Store was dead serious about supporting a counter-attack. And they had ideas. Crazy ideas. Ideas involving a live clown army and a fleet of yellow cabs. Yikes.

They were willing to back anything we wanted.

They had promised the Bozo Project any Bozos they had in stock. And they delivered. Unprompted, they FedEx'd us over 40 Bozos the next day. WITH NO STRINGS ATTACHED! Before we even had a plan in place! They basically told us they loved the project and wanted to help in any way they could. And that was it. They asked for nothing in return except to be kept abreast of the situation. How insane is that?

So now I had a giant pile of Bozos on my office floor with no plan as to what do to next. So they sat there for a few weeks while we mulled over our next move. People offered us suggestions for counter-attacks but most of them were either mean-spirited or too “pranky” for our tastes. And too many people suggested we use live Bozos. Eeek. For us, the Bozo Project was simply a visual display of communication between two companies high above 21st Street, based on inflatable Bozo the Clowns and didn’t involve humiliating anyone (except ourselves).

And then, unprompted, the Vermont Country Store sent MORE BOZOS. I think we now had around 48? 50?.

Friends, let me ask you this before we take one more breath together: Are you even familiar with the genius that is The Vermont Country Store? Because if not, welcome to your new obsession! A family-owned business since 1946, they are “The Purveyors of the Practical and Hard-to-Find.” And they really mean it. In other words, if you’re looking to buy anything you’ve ever thought of or needed in your whole life, you can probably find it there.

Need a cotton seersucker patio dress or staggering selection of Muumuus? Check.

No? Oh Okay. Well how about some overnight corn salve?

Oh that's not your thing? Okay. You wanna be a star, baby? Well start singing in the shower with your very own sponge shower mic.

Jeez. You are hard to please. Tell ya what I'm gonna do. Howzabout some nice bubblegum? I remember this stuff from childhood and at least according to me, the only way to eat it properly was to stuff as many pieces in your mouth at once as possible until you nearly cracked your jaw.
Lambchop? Mrs. Beasley? CHECK. CHECK.

Channel your innermost Mrs. Garrett with this German Hair Rat

I think one of, if not the best, parts of The Vermont Country Store is that within this seemingly wholesome, All-American/Americana store, they make no bones about the fact that, well, people bone. Each other. Or just themselves. At all ages. Yes, even seniors live healthy sexual lives and VCS is not afraid to shout it out loud. Welcome to The Vermont Country Store's "Intimate Solutions." I love it. I love how matter-of-fact they are. They sell personal "massagers" and other helpers as well as homeopathic remedies to promote sexual/personal health. Oh Vermont Country Store, could your inventory be any more eclectic or insane? Could I be anymore obsessed with you?

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