A vintage clothing store has been blasted as ‘racist’ online after announcing a newly adopted policy that waived a refundable fee for non-white customers.
In a since-deleted Facebook post, Civvies on Broughton in Savannah said it would be requiring white customers to pay a $20 deposit to book an appointment to browse inside the boutique, while people of color would be exempt from the charge.
‘As a mostly white staff with white ownership, we do not feel comfortable upholding a digital and financial barrier which could prevent BIPOC from shopping at our store at this time on top of the limitations already made by online booking,’ Civvies declared last week.
The store, which sells ‘new and recycled’ clothing, told potential white patrons that they could decline to pay the deposit on the booking form and a manager would reach out to discuss other options.
Civvies went on to say, however, that they would not accept appointments with any white customers who are simply refusing to pay the fee because they believe it’s ‘unethical’.
The owners of the store defended the $20 fee on Sunday, saying indigenous and other people of color are likely the most effected by poverty and the on-going coronavirus pandemic, and that a refundable deposit would provide an additional barrier to their shop.
Civvies added that it wasn’t aware of any legal precedent that would suggest waving a fee to a minority group would be discriminatory, or that the fee adds limitations for white customers based on their race.
The store also added Sunday that they haven’t denied any appointment requests because of someone refusing to pay the refundable fee.
However, the store’s owners appeared to do an about-face 24 hours later, apologizing in a Monday statement for any offense caused by the new promotion, while confirmed they’d deleted all social media posts related to it.
‘It was not our intention to act in any way that might be perceived as discriminatory and for that we apologize,’ the owners, who were not named in the statement, wrote.
The store’s manager, Raine Blunk, told WJCL that some angered customers have threatened legal action over the new fee and filed complaints with the Department of Labor.
‘Most of the feedback about our decision to waive this refundable deposit is racist because it favors black people, indigenous people and people of color,’ Blunk said.
‘Obviously it is unfortunate to have thousands of people commenting and messaging us saying that they are going to sue us and have contacted the Department of Labor because this is a violation of their rights. We believe that what we are doing is within the confines of the law.’
Blunk added that the few was not based on ‘racial preference’ but was aimed to help those ‘most likely to be affected by a loss of historical equity.’
More than 1,200 people had commented on the store’s Facebook apology by Wednesday, with many insisting they were unmoved by the statement.
‘“I’m sorry you interpreted what I did negatively” is not an apology,’ Jimi Foster wrote in response. ‘You have only demonstrated that you have learned nothing from this.’
‘If you dont want to be percieved [sic] as discriminatory you never should have mentioned skin color and booking fees,’ added Laura Watts. ‘Either everyone gets a booking fee or no one does. Skin color should decide who pays a booking fee. That is absolutely disgusting and racist.’