I do not know Marie Eiffel [“Shelter Island Community Pulls Together To Support Local Shop Owner,” 27east.com, June 16]. I was once seated next to her partner, Jason Penney, at a dinner, I heard Marie’s compelling story, had a pleasant evening, and I would welcome sitting next to him at a dinner in the future.
Marie certainly overcame much to survive her car accident and must be very driven to have gained her “business mogul” status. She found a niche catering to experiential vacationers that in most years fits nicely into the Shelter Island experience. In many ways, the Shelter Island community has accepted her style among their own.
I am not a fan of her marketing campaigns — the continuous self-promotion over product promotion doesn’t attract me to her wares — so I don’t shop at her stores. I do not know who declared her “the Hamptons’ most beloved shopkeeper,” and I do not agree with the claim that her seasonal market is “a community center.” She can call herself whatever she wants; if I don’t like it, I won’t shop there.
It does concern me that our local newspapers and news magazines are legitimizing these monikers by writing articles as editorial staff, when these puff pieces read much more like advertising than news reporting — but this isn’t unique to Marie.
Marie’s latest marketing campaign has taken her into a new territory. With the introduction of her GoFundMe campaign, she should no longer be treated as a business by the news media and, instead, treated as a charity.
During this time of uncertainty, many Shelter Island charities are suffering and have lost their regular avenues to solicit contributions. A gift to Marie Eiffel is likely a gift that didn’t go to any one of the 20-plus beloved charities on our island. Many of these charities work all year to earn less than what Marie’s GoFundMe raised in 48 hours.
I am deeply saddened that her story is more compelling to donors than a retreat house for veterans suffering from PTSD, a bone marrow registry, an island preschool, or any one of our East End food pantries.
The donors who give to Marie have every right to give according to what they feel is right and good — it is their money. So my challenge is: How do we tell the story of our charities in a way that our local newspapers dedicate a page to each one of them? How do we get our causes to be written up in regional and national newspapers or lifestyle magazines? How do we get people to be as passionate about supporting education, saving lives and healing wounds as they are about a coffee shop?
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