The Misplaced Apostrophe

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A lot of people ask why the apostrophe in Lands’ End is in the wrong place.

There have been some silly explanations along the way, but the truth is, it was a mistake.

“It was a typo in our first printed piece,” explained Gary Comer, “and we couldn’t afford to reprint and correct it.”

In the years since, the misplaced apostrophe has continued to grace our name and our label. And while it has prompted some raised eyebrows among English teachers, it sets us apart as a company whose continuing concern for what’s best for the customer is unmistakably human.

We’ll share three little stories that exemplify how we care for our customers.

The first one is about a call Ruth Lang got, when she was working third shift in customer sales. A woman asked if Ruth would call her back at 5 AM the next day. She was staying in a mansion-turned-hotel that did not have a wake-up service, and the next day was her wedding day. She was afraid she’d oversleep and miss the ceremony! Since she was a long-time Lands’ End customer, she knew she could count on us to help out in any way. Sure enough, Ruth called her back at 5 AM as requested, and the wedding went off beautifully.

Then there was the time we got this heart-tugging letter:

“Dear Mr. Lands’ End,

I’m in the seventh grade and am writing to you because some kids in my class stole my math teacher’s briefcase and filled it with debris. The kids didn’t like my teacher because he gave too much homework.

When my teacher found his briefcase on his car roof after school, I saw him crying. I asked why he was crying, and he said it was because the briefcase was a gift from his father in 1975 when he graduated from college, and his father had passed away.

I have two dollars and the entire Boston Red Sox baseball card collection. I will give all of it if you could please send him a new one. His case was all blue. Thank you, Mr. Lands’ End.”

After daubing our eyes with a tissue, we sent the kid a brand new briefcase, and let him keep his baseball cards.

Finally one last story, about the time Mike McDermott got a call from a customer, checking to see if her granddaughter’s present would be delivered the next day, as promised, on her birthday. For whatever reason, it turned out the order would not arrive until the day AFTER her birthday. The grandma was understandably upset.

Mike had an idea. “What if I call your granddaughter tomorrow, and sing “Happy Birthday” to her?” The grandma said that would be fine. So the next day, Mike rounded up a whole chorus of his customer sales comrades, and they sang a beautiful rendition of “Happy Birthday” to the granddaughter. She was touched. Later her grandma called to say how impressed her granddaughter was, that a company would go to all that trouble, and how special it made her feel.

We could tell you plenty of other stories, but you get the idea. We’ll do whatever it takes to satisfy our customers, just as we have since 1963. We may be part of a great big corporation nowadays, but we’re still the same friendly folks in Dodgeville that you’ve known for years, and we’ll do just about anything for you.

Except fix that apostrophe.

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