Saturday, October 21, 2006

Polish Merchants in Michigan, Part 2 of 2

The following is excerpted from Poles in Michigan, Vol. 1

Regarding Polish Commerce and Polish Merchants
in The State of Michigan (Part 2)
by A. Wojsowski

The organized buying of the Polish merchants in the Federation, after its program was drawn up, proved so successful and it expanded to such an extent that the Federation promoted a National Convention of Polish Merchants, which was held in 1936 in Cleveland, Ohio, and it arranged one of the largest outings under the name of "Picnic in Warsaw Park", where there were gathered upwards of 10,000 people. Ten tours to Poland were given as rewards in the Merchants’ contest.

In the year 1935, the Federation of Polish Merchants for the State of Michigan arranged a group excursion to Poland in which more than a hundred Polish merchants of Michigan took part. This group visited Poland - and particularly its places of industry and business, and was received by the authorities of Poland in Warsaw.

The hours of work were regulated for the stores. The Federation successfully lobbied against the various legislation before the Michigan Legislature which would be harmful to the small, unorganized business man. Added to this was the estrangement of the chain stores, which, until now, were enjoying special consideration from the State and benefited from various privileges.

There were collected large sums for an Academy in Warsaw, a Home for Displaced Poles, and also a large sum was placed in the hands of Marshal Rydz Smigly for reconstruction in Poland a short while before the outbreak of the Second World War and the attack on Poland by Germany.

After the organization of the National Federation of Polish Merchants, the Federation of Polish Merchants in the State of Michigan joined the National Federation as Division I, and from then on it functioned in the territory of Michigan as Division I of the National Federation of Polish Merchants.

In the year 1939, the Polish merchants of Division I entered into war relief work by extending aid to Poland. They assessed themselves for this project upwards of 1% of the profit obtained from the sale of their goods (for such purchases, the customer received, as a receipt, a blue stamp indicating that the purchase would help relief work in Poland) and they are taking advantage of every opportunity to increase the fund for war relief. Therefore,
there were arranged outings, meetings and banquets for celebrities who came to Detroit; for instance, for the Captain of the Polish ship "Batory", Eustace Borkowski; Minister Gen. Joseph Haller; Dr. Henry Gruber; the President of the Polish Savings bank in Warsaw, General Bronislaw Duch; Consul Stanley Angerman; General Walter Sikorski; the Minister Strasburg, and Minister John Kwapinski. The substantial funds which were realized from these benefit affairs, in their entirety, were earmarked for the relief of the victims of War in Poland.

Over and above all this, the Polish Merchants organized in the First Division of the National Federation of Polish Merchants carried on, on a wide scale, a program of enlightenment - educating by the aid of regular radio talks, letters issued quarterly under the title of "Buyers’ Guide", brochures and pamphlets, as well as educational contests.

Today, in view of the changing conditions in the governmental systems, and thereby in the merchandising field, recruiting of the Polish non-member merchant is diminishing. The great million dollar firms, the large supermarkets, are eliminating the small merchant from the trades - which is having a harmful effect on the organization. The ranks of the non-organized Polish merchant are shrinking. In truth, in the Detroit area, including Hamtramck, the First Division of the National Federation of Polish Merchants is still operating, but it is fighting against great odds. In spite of this, the present officers of the organization: Casimir Dziurman, President; Francis Szczepanek, vice-president; Anthony Wojsowski, Secretary; Florian Migda, Financial Secretary; Michael Linkiewicz, Treasurer; Vincent Rozycki and Joseph Radzienta, Directors do not falter or yield to the difficulties of the times, but are holding firmly, even though in smaller numbers, always remaining active First Division of the National Federation of Polish Merchants.