This month, lululemon, the upscale and upbeat ladies athletic wear shops, put “Who is John Galt?” on all their shopping bags.
Until today, when I saw a bag on the BART train in San Francisco, I never thought of visiting a lululemon store. I have never had the need for, nor do I reckon they sell, XXL men’s yoga tights. I went to the web site to see what the bags were all about, and found this post on the lululemon company blog. The blog tells of the impact the novel Atlas Shrugged had on lululemon founder Chip Wilson when he was young, and how the philosophy has guieded his corporate vision.
I looked up the nearest store, and walked the 3 blocks to lululemon at 327 Grant Ave in SF. I bought a few sports hairbands for my daughters, and the friendly clerk gave me a Galt bag for each. And now my girls have new hair bands AND the coolest lunch sacks in town.
Though I am pretty excited to see a reference to Atlas Shrugged placed on a mass market shopping bag, not all the fans of lululemon are as pleased. In the comments on the blog page, there are lines line:
- I’ll take my workout gear without naive freshman-year analysis next time.
- Package Republican propaganda in a $100 pair of pants and call it yoga.
- You can rest assured that I and many others who naively associated the yoga movement with progressive values and humanity will never set foot in your Lululemon stores again.
The good news is that less than 10% of the over 110 comments on the lulu blog are negative. The vast majority understand that individualism and striving for greatness are good things and are why lulu has been so successful.
It can be dicey to mix philosophy with commerce. But as capitalists and entrepreneurs, our philosophy is why we are in business. I am reminded, though, of what happened a few years ago when Whole Foods CEO John Mackey spoke out against ObamaCare and proposed free market solutions. Mackey is also an admirer of Ayn Rand. Some Whole Food’s customers (fueled by the Unions) were outraged, and tried to organize a boycott. Today, WF stock is doing better than ever.
Head over to your nearest lululemon, and for less than twenty bucks you can get a few hair doodles for your family (or $88 yoga pants!), and the coolest Atlas Shrugged lunch bags EVAR!
Below is the helpful lululemon store clerk showing off the bag.