Old-fashioned American patriotism and capitalism clash over magnet sales

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:16

    SUSSEX COUNTY-While their husbands help to fight a war on terror thousands of miles away, many local women are waging their own war right here in Sussex County. These wives claim that some area businesses are trying to make a profit at the expense of their spouses. In an effort to raise money for their men oversees, family members of soldiers have joined forces to create a Family Readiness Group (FRG). The mission of the organization is to help the family members of soldiers while they are away. The group consists of families of soldiers in Newton, Hackettstown, West Orange, and Washington Township. One way in which the FRG is attempting to raise money, is by selling magnets that are usually displayed in the back of automobiles. Shaped like ribbons, the magnets come in a variety of sizes and colors. Written on each ribbon are a variety of phrases ranging from "support our troops" to "keep our daddies safe." Members of the FRG sell the magnets for $5, with all of the proceeds from the sale going directly to the troops and their families. However, a number of businesses in neighboring communities are beginning to sell similar magnets while profiting only themselves. "We are trying to sell these to make money for the men and these stores are undermining our efforts," said FRG member Wendy VanGorden, explaining that many shops are able to sell the magnets for less than five dollars because they buy in bulk. FGR members believe the magnets should only be sold if the proceeds are going to help the troops. "Unless the businesses clearly state that they are going to support the local troops, I wouldn't trust that place to buy from," she said. Minuteman Press, based in Hackettstown, is one of the shops printing similar magnets and selling them to stores throughout the area. "I don't wish to cause them (FRG) any problems," said Minutman Press President Joel Seitz in a telephone interview last week. "I am just a printing company who sells stuff." Seitz said that he did not know about the FRG when he first began printing the magnets. However, Seitz said, he will continue to produce the popular items. "We are a print for profit company," said Seitz. "Isn't this a free country?" The printing press president said that after he sells the magnets to distributors who are free to sell them in whatever manner they desire. He added that to his knowledge, he did not have any vendors in Sussex County. In addition Seitz explained, he's not the only one selling the patriotic magnets for a profit, "There's plenty of competition," he said. According to VanGorden that competition is hurting sales for her organization and reducing the amount of money available to help the men and women in uniform and their families. "How are we going to help our men with their issues and problems without money coming from somewhere?" In the past, money raised from magnet sales has been used to help fly troops home to visit their families. Right now, the group is attempting to collect funds to host a welcome party for the troops when they return home.