This article originally appeared on VICE US
People who have been waiting by their mailboxes for delivery of a cooler they purchased more than five years ago were hit with disappointing news this week: Trump’s trade war with China has made it impossible for The Coolest Cooler, easily the biggest shitshow in Kickstarter history, to manufacture and sell a plastic box that keeps drinks cold.
At least that’s the excuse Ryan Grepper, who originally promised the coolers in July 2015, made in his lengthy letter to 20,000 people who ordered the Coolest Cooler halfway through Obama’s second term.
“As you may know, late last year the U.S. government imposed 10 percent tariffs on many products imported from China,” the letter, emailed to backers, begins. “Whether you are for or against these tariffs, and whether the world’s biggest economies can move ahead and resolve this, I’m sorry to report that we can't hang on long enough to see how it ends. And so it’s with a heavy heart I have to share that we must close the company.”
Grepper has admitted the company will shut down and deliver no more coolers. As a consolation prize, the 20,000 backers who did not get coolers will get a whopping $20 each from the company. They originally paid between $165 and $225 for the cooler.
Grepper’s letter is a sob story, in which he pats himself on the back for devising "the Homer" of coolers, a device that has a speaker and a blender and a bunch of other crap attached to it that “resonated with so many more people than we ever dreamed” and for continuing to try to deliver the cooler despite a number of setbacks, namely that it blew through the $13 million it raised on Kickstarter and had to beg backers for more money.
I wrote about the fact that Coolest Cooler was unable to deliver its coolers to customers in April 2016, which feels like a lifetime ago. At the time, Grepper was asking backers to pay him an additional $97.
After that ask, the company began to get threats from backers, a spokesperson for the company told me at the time. That spokesperson said the threats were over-the-top, but that the company was indeed a mess: “You can call it a clusterfuck or whatever, but it’s a Kickstarter,” she said. “It’s a cooler. It’s a party cooler.”
In April 2016, Grepper promised that anyone who paid an extra $97 would have a “guaranteed delivery date before July 4 [2016.]”
“As long as there is breath in my body we are committed to getting each and every backer their Coolest Cooler,” he wrote.
More than four years later, he has abandoned that promise.
To friends who were planning on attending my Fourth of July 2016 Hillary Clinton for President beach fundraiser extravaganza: I am sorry, the party is canceled. There will be no blended frozen margaritas on the beach. Summer is ruined and all my drinks are warm. At least Hillary is ahead in the polls.