MOUTHING OFF: Fraser Ross is back to using his store windows to liven up the conversation on Robertson Boulevard.
The retailer’s latest window signage — which has historically been used to make statements on the Los Angeles street — proclaims “Make America and Robertson Great Again” in a riff on President-elect Donald Trump’s campaign slogan. However, it’s less about the winner of the presidential election and more about the retailer’s continued push to get Robertson Boulevard back on the map, Ross said.
“The window’s your platform, your stage to the world,” he said. “You might have to take some heat for it, but there’s stop-and-go traffic on the street and they see it. It’s your stand of what you believe in.”
Ross said he would have done a spin-off of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s slogan had she won the election. Kitross has been selling Clinton and Trump merchandise — everything from socks and coloring books to playing cards and pet waste bags — in the lead up to the elections, with business continuing to be brisk, particularly with Trump merchandise, Ross said.
“It’s [about] how can I get Robertson better again?” he said. “And I think with getting the phone booth taken down [on the street], the trees trimmed, the lights down…and I’m waiting on the two-hour parking and [the city’s] looking into it. So it’s [about] how can I get Robertson back.”
Kitson officials ultimately shuttered the 17-store chain and online shop earlier this year as a result of crippling debt loads. The concept was largely credited with the street’s rise, attracting a celebrity following with its unique gifts and finds from emerging designers. Rents skyrocketed on the street as a result, but didn’t fall back with the recession, making it an easy choice for many tenants to leave the street during the downturn. Ross, since opening Kitross in late May, has attempted to work with city officials on aesthetic streetscaping improvements, such as tree trimming and sidewalk sweeping. He’s now pushing for the city to bring two hours of free parking to a structure next door to his store.
Kitson’s windows have never been one to shy away from serving as a mouthpiece for some biting humor to get a point across, such as calling out what’s hot and what’s not in the way of trends. Others were much more politically charged, with one window last year peppering Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti with questions of “Why Won’t You Talk to Us? What Are You Afraid of? The Truth? #getusameeting.” The window and a subsequent one, with a similar message, specifically refer to the company’s calls to end Los Angeles International Airport’s relationship with Hudson Group, which operates stores at the airport, following a public feud between the retailer and Hudson.
The window, as of Sunday morning, has since been switched out with a new set of decals accusing CBS 2 and KCAL 9 reporter Peter Daut of using a friend to shape a segment that recently aired on the “Make America and Robertson Great” sign. Ross alleges the news anchor approached his reporting with a personal agenda and plans to take legal action. Daut did not respond to a request for comment Sunday.