A Georgia clothing store faced a wave of backlash for promoting a policy that waived an appointment fee for people of color.
Civvies on Broughton, a vintage clothing store in Savannah, removed social media posts that announced the reopening of the store and its new policy after a firestorm over its “racist” deposit requirement. The store addressed the controversy and issued an apology this week after the blowback.
After being closed for months amid the coronavirus pandemic, Civvies reopened by appointment only and asked shoppers to pay a $20 refundable deposit to secure their appointments. However, the store’s decision to waive the fee for “BIPOC” (Black, indigenous, and people of color) customers created a stir.
“As a mostly white staff with white ownership, we do not feel comfortable upholding a digital and financial barrier which could prohibit BIPOC from shopping at our store at this time on top of the limitations already made by online booking,” the since-deleted post on Facebook read.
White customers who were unable to pay the $20 deposit were directed to contact the store’s management to “discuss other options.” However, they would “not be accepted for an appointment” if they refused to pay the fee because they disagreed with the premise.
“If you are white and refuse to put down a deposit because you believe our policy is unethical you will not be accepted for an appointment,” the now-deleted post read.
The post sparked scathing criticism and even some threatened lawsuits over alleged discrimination. And while the store initially attempted to defend the policy, the posts were deleted and an apology was forthcoming.
“We did waive the $20 deposit fee for people who identify as black, indigenous, or people of color,” store manager Raine Blunk told FOX 28. “These are just daily decisions about ways we can leverage our privilege and equity to help other people.”
“I don’t believe there’s any form of discrimination or prejudice happening when we waive a temporary refundable fee for a portion of our clientele. It’s similar to a ladies night or military discount,” Blunk contended.
“We don’t believe that by saying that black people, indigenous people and people of color face racial inequities mean that all black people, indigenous people and people of color are poor or can’t afford a $20 appointment fee. Simply that, we believe they have enough on their plate and might want to spend that 20 dollars elsewhere,” the store manager explained.
On Monday, the owners issued an apology.
Statement from the owners: “It was not our intention to act in any way that might be perceived as discriminatory and for…
“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 told WJGL.
“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.
But Monday’s message from the owners did not seem to douse the fire that had been ignited over the policy.
“If you don’t want to be perceived as discriminatory you never should have mentioned skin color and booking fees,” Facebook user Laura Watts posted. “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.”
Sounded straight forward and intentional to me. Making offensive assumptions about people of color and discrimination against white people. Too late. You have revealed yourselves,” user Marguerite Dismukes Fischer commented.
“All it would take is to treat everyone the same. And stop making race a disability. That would offend me,” Dusty Jones commented.
“You lost a whole bunch of folks coming in your store. How could you not think this was going to offend… ‘Stupidities on Broughton’ should be your new name,” Facebook user Rachel Flanigan wrote.
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