If you’ve been to a Market Basket rally, or even if you just have a friend or relative on Facebook who can’t stop gushing about Artie T., you’ve probably seen it: the goofy-looking giraffe in a circle with the words “Market Basket Strong” that’s become a symbol of the boycott movement and of the employee’s sticking their necks out for their former boss.
But you probably never gave a second thought to where it came from.
Scott Manning, 44, a part-time graphic artist from Manchester, N.H., said he has been “blown away” by the image’s popularity. After another Market Basket boycotter proposed making a giraffe the mascot of the boycott in a late-night Facebook discussion, Manning said, he threw together an image and posted it to Facebook.
“The next morning, I just woke up to chaos,” he said.
Since Manning created the image in the wee hours of July 26 and posted it online, it’s gone viral; By Manning’s last count, about 10 days ago, the image and its variants were posted on more than 400 Facebook pages. It’s arguably the centerpiece of an entire cottage industry that has churned out countless t-shirts, vinyl decals, and tchotchkes to sell to impassioned customers and employees of Market Basket.
Perhaps it’s no surprise, then, that Manning and his t-shirt printer say other companies have ripped off the design to make a quick buck.
Manning posted the image on Facebook shortly after 1 a.m. on July 26, with a message not to use it commercially. Later that morning, he had received reports that it was being hawked at the Mall at Rockingham Park in Salem, N.H. Since then, he said he has had to threaten eight to 10 other printers with cease-and-desist letters for printing his design and selling shirts for profit.
“Some people have no morals or conscience,” said Lilia Credit, who has been authorized to print the shirts at her Haverhill print shop, which has two other employees.
Credit said she has printed more than 600 shirts bearing the boycott movement’s unofficial logo, and volunteers pick them up and mail them to people who order them through a Market Basket fan site, mydemoulas.net. Credit prints the shirts for the cost of materials and labor, more or less, with the rest donated to a fund set up to help several hundred Market Basket workers who haven’t been paid since walking off their jobs in late July.
She said the exposure has been great for her business, and she has enjoyed the sense of community fostered by the boycott. Still, she said, as a boycotting Market Basket shopper in a city with few other options, she just wants the dispute to end.
“I refuse to go grocery shopping anywhere else,” she said.Jack Newsham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @TheNewsHam.