Is Kitson’s masks ban a publicity ploy?

Fraser Ross, proprietor of the once-white-hot boutique chain Kitson, is just not shy about two issues: dropping the names of celebrities who’ve shopped at his shops and expressing his dislike for the restrictions politicians put in place throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Throughout an interview Monday, Ross was interrupted whereas name-checking a Kardashian, Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan and taking a dig at California Gov. Gavin Newsom and L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti for implementing pandemic “guidelines for thee, not for me.”

“There’s a buyer coming in with a masks,” he stated, “and I want to inform them they’ll’t are available in with one.”

That’s the brand new actuality at Kitson on Robertson Boulevard in Beverly Hills, the place Ross has banned face masks out of concern for the “security of our workers & property of retailer,” in line with an indication posted in a entrance window.

The 58-year-old proprietor, who admits that he makes use of political social media posts and retailer shows to stir controversy and publicity, stated the masks ban is totally different.

The transfer, he insisted, was prompted by staff who’re annoyed and terrified of thieves with lined faces concentrating on the shop and others within the neighborhood. The ban applies solely to the flagship Robertson location, certainly one of 5 Kitson retailers, which Ross described as “the massive retailer the place all the property are.”

“The masks don’t have anything to do with politics; it’s to guard the property,” Ross stated. “I’m defending my staff and our property.”

That’s to not say Ross isn’t happy with the success he’s had along with his divisive storefront shows, a few of which have gone viral, bringing much-desired consideration to his model — although maybe not as a lot as within the early aughts, when Kitson was a must-go for the buying sprees of the well-known, virtually well-known and hangers-on.

“I did essentially the most well-known Christmas home windows,” Ross stated, recalling a 2020 show of Dr. Anthony Fauci and Home Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco), who got here underneath fireplace for going to a hair salon throughout the pandemic lockdown. Carrying purple Santa hats, Pelosi, Fauci, and others had been labeled “Hypocrites of 2020” in posters. “The mainstream media didn’t need to speak about it, although, as a result of I used to be outing Fauci,” he stated.

Ross listed a number of latest thefts and robberies he stated have occurred in his retailer and neighboring companies, together with one by which somebody threatened an worker with scissors and two Japanese vacationers had baggage stolen from their automobile.

The ultimate straw, Ross stated, happened two weeks in the past, when two girls carrying masks, whom he believes had been banned from Kitson for shoplifting, entered the shop. When safety guards confronted them, they yelled that that they had COVID-19.

“I used to be sick of individuals coming into this retailer, and we will’t get them from a lineup,” he stated. “They put on bucket hats, hoodies, and you may solely see their eyes. You may’t say that’s the fitting individual.”

“We’re residing in Gotham Metropolis,” he went on, evaluating the rich business district of Beverly Hills to the fictional crime-filled metropolis that prompts Batman to turn into a vigilante. Crime, he stated, “is at an all-time stage.”

Statistics from the town’s police division current a decidedly much less dire actuality. In its June report, the Beverly Hills Police Division described crime this yr as being “marginally up,” by 7%.

As of June, the town had reported 29 robberies, three greater than in the identical interval of 2021. Seven robberies of shops, by which assailants used drive or concern, have been reported since June.

When instructed concerning the metropolis’s crime fee, Ross contended that many incidents go unreported.

“Individuals don’t need to report it, as a result of it scares folks from coming into your retailer,” he stated.

Ross’ ban of face masks comes simply weeks after Los Angeles County weighed the opportunity of implementing an indoor masks mandate amid rising COVID-19 infections.

However because the Public Well being Division thought-about its resolution, some cities preempted the decision and introduced that they wouldn’t implement a mandate if one had been issued.

Pasadena and Lengthy Seaside announced on the same day that their well being departments wouldn’t challenge a masks mandate together with the county. Beverly Hills, which doesn’t have its personal well being division, then introduced that the city would not deploy resources to implement a mandate.

Finally, the county didn’t challenge a mandate, as an infection charges started to drop.

Ross applauded the Beverly Hills resolution, calling the mayor a “badass” in a put up on the Kitson Fb web page.

Earlier than its social medial pages and home windows had been stuffed with political statements, Kitson grew to fame within the early 2000s alongside a number of celebrities, who had been photographed rising from the shop, carrying its blue luggage.

“The celeb tradition, I’ll have began it within the 2000s,” Ross stated.

Now, Kitson’s social media pages are crammed largely with conservative-leaning posts criticizing vaccines, lockdowns and Democrats.

“Don’t let the door hit you on the best way out,” one put up reads about Fauci’s resolution to step down from authorities service on the finish of the yr. “Please take all of your masks with you that you just by no means put on.”

Others tread on the conspiratorial. The day after the FBI obtained a warrant and searched former President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago property, the shop posted a message: “Who do you suppose the FBI collude with?”

Ross stated the posts mirror his political leanings, though he maintains that he isn’t a Democrat or Republican and, as a Canadian, can’t vote.

His ban on face masks, although, is just not an try to publicize the shop or “troll,” he stated. He additionally doesn’t suppose it would have a lot impression, since most prospects aren’t carrying masks anymore anyway.

“There have been a couple of folks coming in with masks, however the remainder are criminals,” he stated.

The posts, he stated assist him increase the profile of his store to compete with large retailers like Nordstrom.

“Possibly we’re the small firm with the massive voice,” he stated. “I inform folks on a regular basis, should you’re Switzerland, folks don’t actually care. They like folks to take a stance.”

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