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February 10, 2006

Isabel Bloom moving production overseas

The Isabel Bloom story seems a shocker.

Posted by jcb at February 10, 2006 12:26 PM


So Bloom statues are now just another kind of "stuff" to be made as cheaply as possible. It's so ironic that the very emotions that sold the pieces -- cuteness, local charm, that warm and fuzzy feeling -- have now been thoroughly trampled upon.

And as if that weren't enough, the company owners have the gall to claim that Mrs. Bloom would approve of this move -- and of course the fact that 50 people will lose their jobs. Nonsense. The Blooms were people who lived simply and somewhat frugally, and obviously cherished their hometown. I hardly think they would have been comfortable with this brazen chase after greater profit at the expense of the people who worked there, and the brand.

Posted by: Vita at February 10, 2006 12:36 PM

Everybody at work has the same reaction. The "Bloom" is off this rose for good. Never going to buy another one.

Posted by: Fooled at February 10, 2006 12:40 PM

The Bloom has been off this rose for a long time. Present management is wholly lacking in both grace and style.

Posted by: Anonymous at February 10, 2006 01:29 PM

I will never buy another again. What dont they just come out and say they are moving them over there to get slave labor. Little kids and women working for less than a dollar a day. If they were really needing more space etc they would buy a bigger building here and probably get a bunch of city money to do so

Posted by: Brenda at February 10, 2006 01:46 PM

We have over 30 of your pieces in our home.We have sent others as gifts and rememberences. That all stops today.
Smart move making your anouncement right before Valentines Day.
I hope you plan to mark all the new pieces
"Made in China". All your oweners should move there to be near your new factory.

Posted by: Fred Barks at February 10, 2006 02:50 PM

I agree with all of the comments given so far. I, too, will never buy another "Bloom!" They were uniquely Quad Cities. They made such special gifts to friends who now live away from the Quads. And, yes, it's wrong to support slave labor.

Posted by: Barbara Chaney at February 10, 2006 03:14 PM

It's ashame when the world market takes priority over people who have given their hearts to the company. Nice doing business with you. But never again.

Posted by: mike ellis at February 10, 2006 03:51 PM

Some corporate-types will applaud the outsourcing, payroll reduction, and the progress. They will explain it away as "...the way business is done now."

For many of us, the gift is gone.

Maybe these items will make the perfect corporate gift now. Ordered by the gross and distributed as tokens of appreciation to employees fortunate enough to have survived the progress within their own organization.

Posted by: Jimi Velocity at February 10, 2006 03:52 PM

How sad for our community. I strongly believe Isabel Bloom would not approve of this decision and it is such a shame management feels like she would. I have called Isabel Bloom customer service and asked to be removed from the mailing list and will not purchase another bloom. My heart goes out to the 50 some people that will lose their jobs. Mr Gilfillan's comment about challenging people to go into a gift store and find something that is not made overseas - NONSENSE!!! That is what made the "blooms" unique and precious to our community.

Posted by: Angie P at February 10, 2006 03:59 PM

I will no longer purchase these figures for myself or for a gift. I hope that I will not receive any either. It makes them seem "cheap" by sending the work overseas just to make a buck. Did you know that the Longaberger pottery too is no longer made in the USA? It is being manufactured in China now!! BUY AMERICAN

Posted by: Stephanie at February 10, 2006 03:59 PM

If what Barbara Chaney says is true, that the Isabel Blooms are "uniquely Quad Cities", then, people, we are in deeper doodoo than we ever imagined.

The artistic merit of hunks o' concrete with a dab o' color always escaped me. I got one from my grandmother-in-law 25 years ago as a wedding gift, and it was sort of charming---it was a bird with some sort of turquoise chips for eyes, but I never wanted another, even though all my in-laws collected them.

I my view, when the "real" Isabel Bloom died, the artistry of the Isabel Bloom hunks o' concrete died with her.

Just sayin'.

Posted by: paladin at February 10, 2006 04:15 PM

Never understood the appeal of Isabel Bloom's work to begin with. Nothing but tacky chunks of concrete to me. Almost as bad as Precious Moments.

Posted by: anonymoo at February 10, 2006 04:18 PM

I just drove by the Moline store (about 4:15 p.m. Friday) and people were lined up to the door returning their chunks of concrete (Sorry, Isabel. I like John's work but never was a fan of those little doo-dads).

Just in time for Valentine's Day giving -- outsourcing 50 local artisan jobs to China! Can you say, "tin ear"? How did that hole get in my foot? What's this smoking revolver in my hand?

And what better way to go mass-market with your Midwest arts-and-crafts product than to have your dainty objects d'art produced by underpaid proles in a Communist country? Just heartwarming!

I didn't know the Blooms well but I'm pretty sure Isabel wouldn't have gone for this.

Really brings outsourcing home, doesn't it?

Posted by: MR at February 10, 2006 04:49 PM

Now I hear that the people are lined up there to BUY. Some kind of get the last US Bloom frenzy? Go figure. There's one born every minute.

Posted by: MR at February 10, 2006 04:59 PM

Special gifts for special events--some happy and some sad. Not anymore! Wouldn't have one if they were giving them away--and after the China ones come out--maybe they'll have too.

Posted by: Julie at February 10, 2006 05:13 PM

Sorry to see Isabel Bloom gone from the Q.C. Wonder how long the local stores will stay open. Wonder how long before they show up in Walmart.

Posted by: Manicmndy at February 10, 2006 05:51 PM

well, I was wondering how long it would be after the death of Isabel, that the company would blow it. As far as I'm concerned, Isabel Bloom went out of business on 2/9/06. I will never want or buy another. what a slap in the face for us local collectors, who have spent a ton of cash on these local items, made by local craftsmen, out of local Mississippi mud. I'm just wondering, how long before we all see these items reappear, made from resin, in the back clearance aisles of the local Walmarts and Dollar stores? With shipping charges, do they really think that they will still be made of concrete? This is what happens when a local icon company is sold to "foreign" investors. If you are not from the QCA, you just don't get it! At least I can hope that they fall flat on their faces (bankrupty), desperately trying to unload the business. It will only be then, that they will see, that you can't piss-off the QCA and get away with it. Poor-disgusted Isabel is rollling-over in her grave!

Posted by: kathy at February 10, 2006 07:48 PM

For me, it's kind of like if Jim's Ribs said they are moving to China. Or Harris Pizza. Or Frank's Pizza. Or worse yet, Whitey's Ice Cream.
What a shame and shame on them.

Posted by: anonymous at February 10, 2006 09:55 PM

Employees should quit now and start up their own business. They have all the knowledge and the designers to make this happen. Why should the artists stick around to get their walking papers when the greedy ones find new designers (at cheaper salaries in china. If I lived in the quad cities I would not support any of their places of business.Their are more important things than money. Isabel bloom could have done the same thing but she loved the quad cities - to bad the 3 greedy ones don't.

Posted by: sharon at February 10, 2006 11:49 PM

I started getting them as gifts.Then i started collecting more and more . Then started giving them as gifts. I only will want or buy the ones made here in the Quad Cities, U.S.A. After this i will not want or buy the ones made in China. They will not mean the same .

Posted by: Bonnie at February 10, 2006 11:54 PM

Seems to me one of the owners passes himself off as a big-shot in the charitable community, ie United Way, Junior Achievement, etc. Hardly compatible with dismissing over 50 people and honking off the whole rest of the QCA!

Posted by: bev j at February 11, 2006 12:44 AM

How sad.. They were just concrete art but they were made in the QC's by one of our own. No longer will I buy them...and I was going to shop for Easter Gifts.

Posted by: Karla at February 11, 2006 06:49 AM

Truly disappointing for the QCA. Having grown up here, it WAS wonderful to have something unique to our area. Working for more than 30 years to support our area and despartley trying to find products made in the USA and QCA(& Union made) for gifts and everyday living. Now we are sold out again. I thought Mr. Harris and his group would be more considerate to our community. yes they give alot to this area but who do they think spend their money here? You want the area to be rejuvinated--HOW-- by the Chinese? truly a sad situation.

Posted by: bev w at February 11, 2006 08:07 AM

Bloom's art work was always some thing special. Now with it being shipped to China it has lost it's appeal for me. What a shame we have to surender so many things over seas.Start Looking for for Chineese made Bloom's in K - mart, Wal - Mart and perhaps at your local Dollar store.

Posted by: Pascal Booras at February 11, 2006 08:30 AM

An Isabel Bloom sculpture is a little piece of the Quad Cities, not just a piece of art. Outsourcing destroys what makes it valuable and special. The company should continue to produce the sculptures here in the Quad Cities. Even if they open a factory in China, the ones made here should have a special mark identifying them. I have often given these to friends and family to mark special occasions, but it won't mean anything if they're made in China.

Posted by: Anonymous at February 11, 2006 08:55 AM

Isabel Bloom moving to China is a stupid move on their part. Isabel Bloom statues will no longer be a collector item,all they will become is cheap,foreign made junk. I will give them 2 years before they go belly up.

Posted by: merrie zvonik at February 11, 2006 09:14 AM

I don't know how the owners of companies can call themselves Americans when they take jobs away from the Americans and send them overseas! Well atleast they helping the unemployement in other countries, I guess that is something to proud of. As far me, I will not buy another Bloom, there is nothing special about them anymore, except their made in China sticker!

Posted by: Amber at February 11, 2006 10:34 AM

Although I am heartened and validated to hear that many Quad Citians plan to boycott the new "made in China" Bloom sculptures, it will mean nothing to the owners of the current company.

The very reason for moving to China was to de-regionalize the product and be able to meet mass market demands.

For me personally, traveling to other parts of North America and seeing souvenir stores in non-USA locations promoting local artisans' works [not mass produced] is far more enticing, interesting, and educational than the "mass made in other countries" tripe that most of the U.S. souvenir stores display and sell--even in our national parks.

It is past time for citizens of our United States to read labels and buy momentos from area artisans. Let the "Isabel Bloom" type companies laugh all the way to the bank, but not at my expense.

Posted by: Otter at February 11, 2006 12:58 PM

I feel that a part of our history was taken from us and it is not right. The 50 employees should boycott or sue the owners cause they lost their jobs. Isabel Blooms were the only things we had to show that were made right in our home town. Now they have been taken from us.

Posted by: Patricia at February 11, 2006 02:08 PM

Regarding those commenters who say the BLoom owners aren't being American. Of course they are! IN fact, they could not BE more American. They are trying to maximize their economic potential. They are trying to make as much money as they can. There is no higher American value than making as much money as you can. Nothing. To pretend otherwise is just that...pretending. And if you choose not to purchase the made-in-China sculptures, than you, too, are exercising your economic rights as Americans. I don't know exactly how this has any kind of moral dimension to it. It's purely economics to me.

Posted by: Anonymous at February 11, 2006 03:02 PM

The wife and I will not be buying anymore Blooms. Ever. Shame on the owners, they are driven by greed, pure unadulterated greed. Shame on them.

Posted by: Jim at February 11, 2006 03:21 PM

Anon 3:02 p.m.: While there are purely econmic issues in play, there clearly are both moral and political considerations driving the buyers who are declaring for plainly stated reasons that they'll take their market power elsewhere.

To that degree, there's a moral dimension.

Whether the move is "moral" for Isabel Bloom depends, I suppose, on whether it strengthens or weakens the company - the purely economic entity.

If the move is made with the idea of making the existing market more profitable through the use of Chinese labor, then it may well prove disastrous given the reaction of the existing market.

If the move is intended to serve a vastly expanded market, which surely is the case, it may well succeed; depends on whether the Isabel Bloom folks can carve out a share in the national memorable/collectible gifts market.

Incidentally, if they succeed, there could be a bonus for the existing market: The figures made pre-China may gain in value, and those actually designed by Ms. Bloom will get a further boost.

Posted by: jcb at February 11, 2006 04:20 PM

For the several years that I have been travling around the world I have always taken the little Bloomies with me as a gift for my translators. In Brazil a few years ago my translator donated the Bloomie to his church for an auction and it brought the equivilent of $750.00 Most of the members of the church are Americans that have left United States for religious reasons but they still knew about the little statues. I have given them in Turkey, Uzbeckistan,Germany and China as well as Brazil and they have always been well received. To bad the current owners feel the need to mass market them. I thought that when they expanded nation wide and almost went broke it should have told them something. I guess some people need to be shown things over and over before they learn a lesson. I for one will find something else to give to my translators from now on Good bye Bloomies Jim N.

Posted by: Jim N. at February 11, 2006 05:28 PM

If I get another Bloom as a gift, I'll return it for the money AND donate the $ to a USA Veterans association. Remember to NOT buy the version the new Bloom owners created for the Red Cross, because the Red Cross management issued a statement supporting the move of Bloom's production to China. Let the Red Cross and the new Bloom owners get their $$$ from China's citizens. Also remember to check the labels at stores where you shop for where the items are made. I don't buy it if it's made outside the USA; that's the ONLY way to slow the transfer of our jobs outside the USA!

Posted by: S. Hennings at February 11, 2006 06:44 PM

I was sadden to read that Isabel Bloom Co. will be moving their production overseas and people in the area will once again loose their jobs. I believe this is just the beginning of a long line of area companies that will soon leave the United States to have their products produced cheaper in other countries. One day in our near future we will turn around and wonder what will the United States of a America produce other than places to eat and drink.
I think that a Quad City business that started in this area could have come up with a better solution, why not still make a select few statues, for example the Breast Cancer sculpture, a Christmas angel, Easter egg, hugs in the Quad Cities so that the people in this area could still buy an Isabel Bloom that was made in the Quad Cities. It's not like it would take a large area or many employees and it seems to me that would make the people in this area feel like they hadn't been left out all together. Isabel Bloom started with a very small shop and managed and so could three very intelligent business men find a place to make a few of the most popular sculptures here in the Quad Cities. I hope Hunt, Jeff and Tom read this and take my consideration and think if this might be a possibility for the future happiness of everyone in this area.

Posted by: Sharon at February 11, 2006 06:45 PM

What a Crock of Mississippi Mud. Shame, Shame on the management at Isabel Bloom's. I have bought them for years to give as gifts, but not one more cent of my money will be spent on a greedy company like this. Greed is the death' knell of all great things. There are too many great artists out there that would be more than willing to take a share of my money. Homegrown artists to boot! Go Isabel, Go. Go, Go, GO!
Run Isabel, Run. Run, Run, Run!

Posted by: Sheril Eiker at February 16, 2006 01:51 PM

I have to agree with all that has already been said. All except for the economics comment. I have to disagree that it's all about the american way, and making money. I.B has to be way into the black if all of these posts came from loyal Q.C. customers. I for one have spent easily over $100.00 per visit! Isabel was an artist, and her art is a Quad-Cities legacy that should not be for sale. The corporate owners obviously don't "get" the meaning behind the statues. Dollar signs don't hold memories, and it's maddening to think that any future events in the lives of loyal Bloom collectors will have to be celebrated another way. We can post and give our opinions, but no matter how mad or upset we are, remember it's a done deal. Absolutely it is out of our control, which is why they didn't announce the impending move, only that it was happening. A bit of cowardess on the part of the owners. I will be sickened when I see my first I.B in a chain store, walmart, or national garden centers. They will become just another silly garden peice, not unique, and meaningless to anyone who wasn't familiar with the original Art of Isabel Bloom.

Posted by: annonamoose at February 17, 2006 11:05 AM

Where did my post go?

Was the lyric too deep for you, John?

Posted by: JohnCAnderson at February 20, 2006 01:13 PM

Didn't see any lyrics. Try again.

Posted by: jcb at February 20, 2006 02:53 PM

I suspect many quad citians are happy that Isabel Bloom is continuing local production simply because, like in the past, they will not have to think too hard when they buy gifts. They simply go to Isabel Bloom and put no thought into whether or not the recipient likes stone statues or not. I have 8 and treasure them only for the reason they were given to me - the death of my husband.

Posted by: Joan Loete at February 23, 2006 02:57 PM

Shame, shame, shame . . . I wonder why they just didn't hire illegals?? After all, this country has plenty of them.
Yuma, AZ (Ex Quad Cities)

Posted by: Kris Simonton at August 19, 2006 12:19 PM