In the days since the horrific attack in Paris on Charlie Hebdo, signs of support are everywhere: “Je Suis Charlie” can be found on leather key rings, decals, bumper stickers, mugs, and of course, t-shirts.
But it raises a question: Are these sellers raising awareness or profiting off of a tragedy?
The artistic director who created the logo most used tweeted on this week that he “regrets the commercial uses of it.”
One Etsy seller, Danica Harcourt of Imperfect Circle Apparel, said she was much more interested in the cause than in profiting.
“Our goal was never to profit from the sale of these t-shirts but to help raise awareness to help support the French population. We have received a couple negative comments as well from a few French citizens who believe the American people are “a–holes” trying to profit from such tragedy, which was never our intent.”
Harcourt says the company donates 10% of all its profits on an annual basis. In some cases, the company has donated all its proceeds, about $4 to $5 a shirt. Harcourt says she has not made a decision on profits from Je Suis Charlie shirts.
This is not the first cottage industry to spring up around catastrophic events.
Just days after the Boston Marathon bombing, official jackets, medals, and even items used by participants were available for sale online. Ebay took most of them down, citing violation of their policy about offensive material.
One t-shirt seller said that “Je Suis Charlie” has been their most successful shirt with a social message. RockWorldEast reported astronomical sales in the first 24 hours: Selling at least 1,800 t-shirts versus the usual 300 to 600.
Harcourt said her store has had more site visits in two days than it had all last year.
But is selling these items insensitive? Those CNNMoney asked said it’s an important message that needs to get out. And if they don’t sell it, someone else will.