Hey Hollister! Learn from Wet Seal!

While the Hollister chain continues to defend a store design that segregates customers in wheelchairs to side entrances . . .

Porch-like structure in front of a mall store. The porch is surrounded by a railing, and only accessible by two steps in the middle of the front of the porch. At the back of the porch is a photo -- spanning the height and width of the rear wall -- of a male model with no shirt on. The roof of the porch like structure is sloped and tiled to look like a beach shack.

{Image description:   Porch-like structure in front of a mall store. The porch is surrounded by a railing, and only accessible by two steps in the middle of the front of the porch. At the back of the porch is a photo — spanning the height and width of the rear wall — of a male model with no shirt on. The roof of the porch like structure is sloped and tiled to look like a beach shack.}

. . . the Wet Seal clothing chain has responded to the aspirations and ingenuity of a girl with Down Syndrome by giving her a photo shoot as a Wet Seal model.

Teen age girl with a brown page-boy haircut, glasses, and Down Syndrome poses in a grassy yard wearing a pink long sleeve shirt layered under a white tank top printed with the image of a flower-print skull.  The girl has her hands on her hips and is wearing pink nail polish.

{Image description:   Teen age girl with a brown page-boy haircut, glasses, and Down Syndrome poses in a grassy yard wearing a pink long sleeve shirt layered under a white tank top printed with the image of a flower-print skull. The girl has her hands on her hips and is wearing pink nail polish.}

Per Disability Scoop — where I got the photo, too — after Karrie Brown started a Facebook page promoting her goal of being a Wet Seal model, the company “promised her something very special” if she could get 10,000 likes.   She got over 14,000 and is now headed to California for her own photo shoot.   Quoted in the Scoop:

“Karrie’s enthusiasm and passion for fashion caught our attention and has inspired all of us here at Wet Seal,” John Goodman, the company’s CEO, said in a statement. “As Karrie herself said, she loves Wet Seal because our clothes help her to “˜fit in while standing out’ and that’s something we feel passionately about for all of our customers. Wet Seal is proud to be part of Karrie’s journey and we can’t wait for her to experience all of the surprises we have in store for her.”

This is not only the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do.   According to the Solutions Marketing Group, there are approximately 54 million people with some type of disability in the US, with $220 billion in discretionary income.

What a contrast to Hollister, eh?   As MSN Money put it, noting Hollister’s recent weak sales:

Abercrombie & Fitch has been told repeatedly by the U.S. legal community to stop being such jerks to its employees and customers. That the company stubbornly refuses to do so — and instead treats its business like an audition for the “Zoolander” sequel in Michael Jeffries’ imagination — suggests it’s willing to go to its funeral dressed in a wardrobe straight out of “Jersey Shore.”

Perhaps a marketing strategy of “not being a jerk” would improve their bottom line!