They made a lonely duo at the Union Square Nordstrom Rack on Wednesday: Two pairs of Ivanka Trump shoes, in the clearance rack.
Perhaps those pale-pink boxes did not know that they and the rest of Ivanka Trump’s branded products were no longer welcome at Nordstrom, which the department store announced last week.
And certainly they were not aware (“they” being two pairs of size 6.5 women’s mules, one black and one brown) of being caught up in a matter of grave importance, given that their mother brand was the subject of a missive from the president of the United States.
“My daughter Ivanka has been treated so unfairly by @Nordstrom. She is a great person — always pushing me to do the right thing! Terrible!” President Donald Trump tweeted Wednesday morning.
Whereas President Barack Obama’s Twitter feed typically sent holiday greetings and shared favorable unemployment numbers among other generally mild-mannered government propaganda, Trump thus thrust the shoes and his daughter’s business into official U.S. business. By retweeting the aforementioned tweet with the official @POTUS account, he lowered the bar even further.
The shoes (combined sticker price: $179.94 after a steep discount) were among a handful of Ivanka items still on sale at the Union Square store on Wednesday. They were on the clearance rack, an employee surmised, because someone had returned them.
Maybe the president should tweet something along the lines of “Don’t return @IvankaTrump @nordstrom products! They’re great, I AVOW.”
That would be not so different from the direct advocacy for a family member’s business that the president just engaged in.
The incident is on the one hand a reminder of how entangled Trump and his family members remain in their business affairs. In an empire that depends almost entirely on his name and fame, he has merely passed along operation to his grown sons. Hard to imagine he doesn’t have some inkling of how his presidential actions or pronouncements affect that core business. And certainly, it’s hard to argue that his Twitter defense of Ivanka on a government platform might not contribute to her company’s bottom line. Both Ivanka, who advises her father, and the president have been criticized by watchdogs for their stumbling steps at separating themselves from their businesses.
It’s also a reminder of the strange new world retailers are now adapting to — facing potential boycotts from customers due to their positions concerning Trump, but also direct insults or threats from the most powerful man in the world, who has been able to thumb down company’s stock prices with single tweets.
But back to the mules. They looked good as new, fairly comfortable, nicely made. (Original price: $320 total!).
Shoppers passed them by for much of Wednesday afternoon, though a number of customers said they liked the Ivanka merchandise and would be sad to see it go. The connection to Trump was more problematic.
“I don’t want to think about him,” said Anna-Marie Sumner, 70. The campaign had been “awful,” his first few weeks in office “worrisome.” She said she assumed things could get worse.
Two Brazilian tourists even likened Trump’s business connections to some of the inappropriate business-government connections back home — where former president President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, for example, had been charged with a vast corruption scheme involving oil kickbacks.
That was how things went at home, said Giovanni Rossit, 25. “This is not the U.S.”
They’re right that corruption of that type is out of scale with anything we’ve ever had here, including Trump. But Trump isn’t doing himself any favors with ethics observers with actions like these, which show that he’s still having a hard time adjusting to the traditions of the presidency. Business appears to still be on his mind even while occupying the nation’s highest office.
Maybe between official duties, he’ll also get those shoes sold.