A vintage clothing store in Savannah, Georgia, is being ripped for a promotion it posted on Facebook that would require white customers to pay a $20 refundable deposit to book an appointment to shop there — but waive the fee for “people of color.”
“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,” wrote the store, called Civvies on Broughton.
BIPOC stands for “Black, Indigenous, People Of Color.”
The shop, which sells new and “recycled” clothing, told white customers they could decline to pay the deposit, but would be contacted by a booking manager to “discuss other options,” the Facebook post said.
“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,” said the store’s post, which has now been deleted.
The store initially defended the $20 fee on Sunday, WTOC reported.
Store managers posted again Sunday further defending the appointment policy, saying black, indigenous and other people of color are most likely affected by poverty and COVID-19, and that a refundable deposit would be an additional barrier to their shop.
Civvies said at this time they aren’t aware of any legal precedent showing that it’s discriminatory to waive fees for a portion of the demographic based on reason and actual experience, or that the fee adds limitations for white customers based on their race.
But on Monday the store apologized for the promotion. “It was not our intention to act in any way that might be perceived as discriminatory and for that we apologize,” the store announced on Facebook.
The store’s manager, Raine Blunk, said some people threatened legal action. “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,” she said.