A Successful Grassroots model to Shutting Down Fur Stores

Kitchener based CALM Activists have successfully shut down the city’s last remaining fur store (Kaufman Furs). The pressure campaign took just over 3 months with 4 dedicated activists. Only legal tactics were used but the police still came to visit (28 times) resulting in 0 arrests and a handful of unsuccessful attempts to repress action with misinformation and intimidation.

This campaign provides a model for an easy, accessible, cheap, and safe way to shut down the sale of fur. While campaigns like this focus on the storefront, we appreciate the efforts of the ALF to free the animals directly from fur farms and those outreaching to sway the hearts and minds of the public.

Strategy of the Campaign

The strategy is simple: make fur stores unprofitable and unenjoyable businesses. Tactically this means confronting every customer, employee, and business partner. A constant presence in front of the store is crucial, while peak business hours should be given the most attention.

Stages of the Campaign

  • Information gathering and research.
  • Dedicate yourselves to completing the campaign.
  • Complete all preparatory work (letter to owner, press kit, website, outreach materials, etc).
  • Politely ask the owner to close, explaining how the animals are treated. Include your promise to shut them down if they do not close within a given time.
  • Publicize your request to the media, the community, activist groups, etc.
  • Outreach to the neighbourhood and surrounding businesses to gain support.
  • If they do not close within the given time, mount a pressure campaign to force their closure.
  • Maintain and escalate pressure until the profit driven monsters have closed.
  • Celebrate your victory with everyone who helped along the way!
  • Leverage your success against future targets.

The pressure campaign is the most exciting and creative component of the campaign (and one of the longest components). ‘Pressure’ means making business unprofitable and unenjoyable. This can be done in hundreds of simple legal ways that the business has no way to defend against.

Frequently Asked Questions About Using This Model to Close Fur Stores

If we don’t answer your questions here, email info@CALMaction.org or check out the FAQ.

What support is there for my local campaign?

We will do everything we can to empower you and your group to succeed. This includes

  • Mentors to guide you through the process.
  • Skills training and help with strategy development.
  • The support of CALM Activists in your region.
  • Web design, graphic design, server space, tech support, and legal support.
  • Outreach and protest materials customized and shipped to you within 2 weeks.
  • Templates of all the supporting documents you will need.
  • And a handful of other helpful surprises.

Can this campaign be done without a ton of people?

Absolutely. While protests with a lot of people and complicated demonstrations can be good, they are not needed. With a good strategy, 2 dedicated people could shut down a fur store. Campaign strategy needs to be based on what you can guarantee. When you depend on what you cannot guarantee (ex. hundreds of protesters, national media, etc) to win, you could burnout and be unsuccessful. When your strategic actions are founded on reliable resources and people, it is just a matter of time before your campaign will succeed.

Simply put, the campaign could be won by consistently confronting the majority (ideally all) of the customers and convincing them to not shop there. This could be done with as few as 1 activist (although we suggest more). This is the base of a good strategy, but there are still hundreds of other ways you can make their cruel business unprofitable and unenjoyable.

How long and how much time could a campaign take?

With only weekend protests, Portland activists were able to shut down Schumacher Furs in less than 2 years. With a daily presence, CALM Activists in Kitchener were able to close Kaufman Furs in just over 3 months. Most businesses wouldn’t be able to deal with the pressure of a campaign like this for any more than 2 years. There are a bunch of variables that will determine how long the campaign will take, but generally you should be able to commit to consistent participation (min. once a week) for longer than you think the company can hold out.

What time of year is best for a campaign against a fur store?

The pressure part of campaign should go from September-April with November, December, and January as the most important months. A lot of stores have severely reduced hours during the summer, but there is still a lot you can do during this time for the campaign. The prep work and first contact with your target is best done towards the end of the season, which is around February.

What can I do if I cannot commit to a long term campaign against a fur store?

Work on actions that do not require such a long term commitment. It is important to understand that protesting once a year will not be enough to shut down fur stores. Direct action campaigns require constant pressure. If you can only commit to action once and a while, we suggest working on outreach projects and supporting grassroots groups in your area with their established campaigns. This campaign model is just one way to help animals and it will not always be a good fit for everyone.