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You Make Great Stuff, Martha, and That Counts for a Lot

In Kmart's aisles, the siren song of your linens and lint rollers drowns out those pesky news reports

June 27, 2002|JEANNINE STEIN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Dear Martha:

We're so sorry to hear about all the trouble you're having with that nasty insider trading scandal--oops, alleged insider trading scandal--involving those ImClone stocks. You must be biting those neatly manicured nails down to the cuticle worrying about what that congressional committee is up to, not to mention the mess with your hunky Merrill Lynch broker being put on paid leave. And then there's your tanking Martha Stewart Omnimedia stock--ouch!

But we've got good news, Martha! Some Kmart shoppers who are buying your products or even considering buying your products don't really give a rat's behind what you did! Some don't even know a thing about the scandal! And get this--some people don't even know who you are!

Like David, the CPA from Redondo Beach who was checking out your curtains at the Big Kmart in Torrance. Well, he sort of knew who you are, even though he didn't even realize he was looking at your curtains. He described you as "some kind of designer for housewives," which doesn't really do justice to the complexity of you and your mega-empire. Being a CPA he sure heard about your woes, but don't worry--he's on your side!

"Her broker probably told her to sell and she sold," he said. "How much money did she make--$200,000? That's not enough to worry about. Why would she do it? If there's anything to this, it's political."

Dave has a point, you know. Two hundred thousand dollars--you probably blow your nose on that!

Cathy Burgos, a 34-year-old mom from Long Beach (who owns one of your garbage cans) hasn't even been paying attention to what's been going on with you. As she was strolling your bath and bedding aisles at the Super Kmart in Long Beach with her two kids she said, "If it's not on Cartoon Network, I don't know about it."

She wasn't the only one. Sheronda Walker, a 31-year-old temp from Long Beach who was cruising comforters, said she had "no idea" what you were up to. "I don't watch TV," she said.

Isn't that amazing? Especially considering that at the checkout stand there was that Globe tabloid with the screaming headline, "MARTHA STEWART JAILBIRD? Will She End Up Decorating a Prison Cell

But even people who have heard of you and the insider trading thingy don't seem that upset, and some even said they'll keep buying your products no matter what happens.

"If she's selling hangers and I need hangers I'm going to buy them," said Victor Smith, a 40-year-old man from Lynwood who works for Toyota. "I'm sure she has some very loyal customers who might feel a little let down [by the insider trading scandal], but it wouldn't affect me."

He was busy looking at your hangers and shoe trees at the Super Kmart in Carson and even though he admitted that he doesn't really seek out your products, he did watch one of your cooking segments on TV because whatever you were making looked pretty good.

"Personally she might be a monster, but it doesn't affect whether she has good products or good ideas," said Mary Perl, a 60-year-old entertainment manager from Rancho Palos Verdes who was considering some poly/cotton sheets at the Torrance Big Kmart.

Mary, who's bought your linens before but admits she "doesn't feel one way or the other" about you, waxed a little philosophical when we asked if she'd keep buying your stuff even if they cart you off to the pokey: "It sounds awful," she said, "but there are so many people who are corrupt and don't get caught. I don't think two million wrongs make a right, but it's just a fact of life that corruption is all over the place. It's too bad, but it's the way our society runs. And if I thought that by not spending $50 on sheets it would have some social significance I wouldn't, but whatever I do will have no significance whatsoever."

Whoa. That was pretty heavy stuff to ponder, so we decided to take a little walk and clear our head. Know what we discovered? You are all over that store, Martha! They should change the name to Martha Mart! The bed linens and towels we knew about, but the rest--geez! Clocks and dishes and shower curtains and utility drawer organizers and pots and pans and little corn on the cob holders and frames and hanging moth cakes and meat thermometers and candles and candleholders and label makers and plastic storage tubs and toothbrush holders and even a lint picker-upper! Whew!

By the way, thanks for taking the time to put that lint trivia on the lint roller wrapper. We never knew that "lint" refers not only to "tiny fibers, ravelings and remnants from yarn and fabrics," but it's also what raw cotton is called when it's just gone through a gin. You are too much!

While we were wandering we ran into Janet Hagopian, a 45-year-old woman from Torrance who works for the South Bay Civic Light Opera. Her cart was practically stuffed with your curtains, and she's been very pleased with the comforters she's bought in the past.

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