If a store appears to be named after somebody, would it bother you if the name was made up? There appears to be a flap in the Ross Valley over a new Goodwill boutique, called , that the name is fictitious.
At the July 10 San Anselmo Town Council meeting, Jennifer Hansen, the owner of said the new boutique’s marketing is misleading as many of her customers don’t realize Georgi and Willow are fictional.
“Georgi and Willow is not genuine," Hansen said. "A lot of my customers don’t understand that these two women aren’t real and that’s alarming to me.”
In June Patch, the first-of-its-kind nonprofit full of trendy clothing and other items curated from Bay Area Goodwill stores, including one in Novato. The boutique’s title combines the names of two fictional Marin County women. (See Georgi and Willow Brand Director Tim Murray describe the two archetypes of Georgi and Willow in the video at the right.)
Organizers have developed an elaborate Georgi and Willow backstory, with details including how the two characters met — they became friends at a young age and went to Sir Francis Drake High School.
An article that recently appeared in the Marin Independent Journal said the boutique is blurring the line between fact and fiction:
The “about” section on the shop’s website begins:
The first store Willow and Georgi planned to open together was going to sell clothes for their My Little Pony collection, beaded bracelets they’d strung themselves, and candy, but only Nerds and Skittles, no licorice (blech!). Their moms said no, so they set up a lemonade stand and raised $5 for the Humane Society until a mean cop shut it down for causing a traffic hazard on Sir Francis Drake.
The elaborate story continues on the site.
The Marin IJ also noted that the site features quotes from both Willow and Georgi commenting on their partner's personality.
Hansen told the IJ that the Georgi and Willow personas also surface on all the shop’s social media pages:
Alaina Yoakum, who manages Georgi & Willow's ongoing social media, said that the “About” section of Georgi & Willow's Facebook page explains that the two women are archetypes.
In an e-mail to Patch, Yoakum said the characters only "live" on the Georgi & Willow website and Facebook page. "They don't exist on Georgi & Willow's Twitter, Pinterest or Google+ because those are social media sites that don't lend themselves to conversations," she said.
Yoakum, co-owner of the Marin Running Company, told the IJ that the goal was to bring the characters to life because so many social media sites are dull.
Murray told the IJ they want to make the real story behind Georgi and Willow a special secret.
"We thought in an era of social media that it would be fun to position it as an open secret and to have people discover it for themselves, because there is a kind of wonderful sensation when you hear a secret for the first time. We thought it might make people more interested in sharing the knowledge with their friends."
Is the boutique being misleading, or just doing smart marketing? Is this too deceptive of a publicity campaign for your tastes? If a Goodwill offshoot store like this opened in Novato, how would you react? Share a comment below.