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Don’t Mess with my Mom #FAIL

My mom works hard.  She is 69 years young and still works a full-time job so that she and my dad can enjoy themselves without having to worry about surviving on Social Security.  However, working FT in Upstate NY isn’t exactly lucrative.  In fact 12.5% of the population in Fulton County,  NY are living below the poverty line.  My mom has been with her company for over 10 years and makes just above $10 an hour.  It makes me feel bad.  I think at the age of 69 she should be out enjoying her life and doing whatever she wants to do.  One thing she loves doing is selling things on eBay.

For the past 12 years my mom has been an avid eBayer.  She is a Top-Rated Seller with over 8,000 positive feedbacks and no negative feedbacks.  If you know anything about eBay that is pretty darn good.  She keeps at least 50 active auctions going at all times.  Every weekend my dad drives her around to yard sales, church sales, Goodwill, and other places throughout the East Coast to help her find deals that she can resell on eBay.  Everyday the local Salvation Army knows they will see her at lunch.  Every night when she gets home from work you will find her taking pictures of her daily finds and writing up auctions.  Every morning before she leaves for work you will find her packaging all her sales for shipment.  My dad brings them all to the post office later that day while my mom is at work.

My. Mom. Works. Hard.

Fast Forward…

Every night when I get out of work I call my mom.  Since I live in Georgia and she lives in New York we don’t get to see each other that much so I really look forward to our daily chats.  Last night our phone call started out like this:

Me: Hi Mom, how was your day?

Mom: Did I tell you I got thrown out of Fownes Brothers & Company today? (Fownes Brothers & Company sell name brand leather products such as gloves at wholesale prices.)

Me: No, what are you talking about?

Mom: Well, I was in Fownes today to pick up a couple things to sell on eBay and when I went to the register the manager (Mr. Galinski) approached me and asked if I was Mom (insert her name here).  I said, “Yes, I am.” and he told me “I cannot sell anything in the store to you as the management does not want their items sold on Ebay.”

Me: You’re kidding me!  What did you say?

Mom: What could I say?  I was embarrassed to be confronted in public like that and he made me feel like I was a criminal.  I put my stuff down and walked out hoping no one saw what he had done.

Me: Mom, I’m sorry that happened to you.

Mom: Dad is furious.  He called their corporate headquarters (1-212-683-0150 – feel free to call them and give them a piece of your mind!) and they pretty much blew him off and said someone would call him back.  (Note: No one has called him back.) He is mad because they treated me that way and because I didn’t do anything wrong.  He said if they are asking X amount of dollars for a product and I pay for it, why should they care what I do with it afterwards?  I don’t even make that much money on the stuff I buy there and the people who buy it live no where near Fownes.

103 Townsend Ave
Johnstown, NY 12095
(518) 848-3949

I asked her if she would mind if I wrote an article about what happened to her and she gave me permission.  I’m fuming.  I’m mad.  I think Fownes Brothers & Company, Inc. made a very poor business decision and implemented it even more poorly.  I understand that a company can refuse to sell to anyone, that is their right.  I don’t understand how they think this is a good business practice though.  My dad is right, if a company sells a product for XX amount of dollars and you buy it – what does it matter if you resell it or give it to a charity?  They made a sale.  They got exactly their asking price.  Hello?  Another point is the people my mom sells to on eBay live no where near Fownes and would never have had the opportunity to purchase the item otherwise.  They are making even more money off my mom because she is making purchases they would not have otherwise.

A Letter to Fownes Brothers & Company, Inc. CEO Thomas Gluckman

Dear Mr. Gluckman,

First let me say that I am completely disappointed in how the manager of your Johnstown, NY store, Mr. Barney Galinski, treated my mom yesterday.  My mom is 69 years old and she works very hard.  She is an honest woman.  She has also been a faithful customer of your store since it opened.  Yesterday she was treated as if she were a criminal.  She was embarrassed.  She felt like she was “bad” (her own words) and your manager took away her pride (also her own words – she is very prideful of her association and status with eBay).  She has paid your full asking price on all her purchases.  Yes, she resold the majority of her purchases on eBay to people for a small profit, but these people live no where near your store.  The sales you have made to my mother would not have happened, if it not been for her reaching out to people who do not have access to your products.  She was doing YOUR business a HUGE service!

I love my mom and I don’t like it when people mess with her.  I especially do not like it when companies take away resources out of greed from elderly who are just trying to better their situation.  Perhaps you should give me a call and I could offer you some business advice?  At the very least I can help you in the Public Relations department.



If you would like to let the company know what you think feel free to email fownes@fownesbros.com – I’m sure they would LOVE to hear from you!

NOTE: This company sells name brand leather products at wholesale prices.

Anyway, this is my rant.  I would love to hear what you think about it.  What advise do you have to offer?  Do you think she was treated fairly?  Did the company make a good business decision?  Do you believe that people who sell items on eBay should be banned from stores?


  1. I am so sorry that your mom was treated that way! I have never been to that business, but I know now that I would never step foot in one of their stores. Who cares what she does with the items once she pays for them fair and square.

  2. That is ridiculous! I am mad just reading it–I would probably be in tears if that was my mom!

    I love your letter–hopefully they apologize, and hopefully they take you up on your business management/pr counseling they obviously need it.

  3. I think she was treated very unfairly. I can understand some high end brands preferring to not see their name on Ebay, BUT they should take into account how much money your mother has spent in their stores over the years. They should also take into account that they will be losing good customers like your mom because they have somehow forgotten that outstanding customer service and quality merchandise is what makes a business thrive. It sounds like they only have 50% of those key ingredients.

    Personally, I have never heard of this retailer, so if I saw their brand on Ebay for the first time and their products appealed to me, then they should consider it free advertising for their brand from the Ebay seller.

  4. That really stinks! I have no idea how I would have reacted. If they want to sell the items at a higher price then they should. I’m not sure it was a wise business decision to alienate a customer because that’s what your Mom is a customer!

  5. All I can say is WOW. Who the heck cares what she does with the product AFTER she purchased it? What if she gave it to a homeless person? Would they balk at a homeless person “wearing” their products? Really, I have never heard of this store, they sure must think a lot of themselves to think everyone knows who they are. And lets say your mom does not purchase the item. Then what? They rip it up and throw it out? Return it to the vendor? All at a LOSS. At least your mom was giving them some of their money back.

    How dare they insult and embarrass your mom like that. Give her a big hug for me.

  6. I agree with the other ladies, there was absolutely NO reason for what was done to your mother! If the company didn’t like your mother buying their products (which in MHO is just insane) they could have very easily handled it a different way. No one deserves to be treated like your mother was…I hope that you get justice for your mom!

  7. Oh Em Gee. Your poor mama!! I just want to give her a hug. Screw Fownes Brothers & Company. I’ll make sure never to purchase anything from them…ever.

    That manager should be canned. You just don’t treat people that way.

  8. I know LOTS of companies don’t allow resellers to sell their items on eBay but she is a customer, not a reseller in the true sense of the word. She shops there and she resells. Big deal! I’ve seen quite a number of products that people purchase retail and then sell because others aren’t near the merchant or can’t get it otherwise. I’m pretty sure the company’s concern is looking like they have bargain bin cheap products but they could have handled it better.

  9. So I have a question. If she were having selling the items at consignment stores or at garage sales would they have done the same thing? Ebay is just like a great big garage sale in my opinion. If anything, they should have contacted her thru her listings on Ebay and not embarrass her in the store.

    • I thought about their reasoning and came up with this:

      If you are buying something from their store for someone for Christmas – would they kick you out? What about if you were donating it to charity?

      I totally see what you are saying.

  10. I agree that they could have been a lot wiser in the way they contacted her IF they feel they have to stop selling to her. Ridiculous, though. I don’t get why it would be a big deal and telling her in the store was just bad taste. I sure wouldn’t go there EVER.

  11. I hope you get a response from the store. Your mother was treated quite harshly. It seems to me the issue is that the manager publicly humiliated your mother (whether or not she is a reseller is not important). That conversation should have been between the manager and your mother, NOT the manager, your mom and the rest of the customers. As a purchaser, your mother was not doing anything wrong. If the store did have a policy of refusing sales to known resellers — a legitimate concern for companies worried about diluting their brands — it should have been explained in a more courteous, professional manner.

  12. Hi Lisa! Glad that I was able to “find” you again after the move and so sorry to hear of the way your Mom was treated. They could have very easily sent a letter to her or discussed the manner discreetly and not out in public for the entire store to witness. I hope the letter brings about some resolution for your Mom and that the company itself teaches its upper management and employees how to be more compassionate when discussing matters with paying customers. I wouldn’t blame your mom if she never shopped there again for the way they treated her.

  13. Janet Carpenter says

    Hugs to your mom!!! That was terrible and not at all smart! Good riddance! I hope they apologize to your mom, she deserves a heartfelt apology.


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