A clothing store in Georgia came under fire for charging an appointment fee from white customers but waiving it for black, indigenous and people of color. The move was widely criticized by customers who even threatened to sue the store.
Civvies on Broughton, located in Savannah, posted the announcement of the appointment fee on Facebook. The post stated that the vintage clothing boutique would charge a non-refundable fee of $20 from white customers to enter the store and browse its collection.
"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," the now-deleted post read.
Civvies on Broughton also told the white customers that they could get in touch with the store management to discuss other options if they could not pay the fee. But it also said that the boutique would not entertain customers who found the rule to be "unethical."
Following the announcement, customers called Civvies on Broughton's new policy as "racist." This prompted the store to apologize and retract the rules. In a statement posted on Instagram, the shop owners said their intention was not to discriminate based on race.
"It was not our intention to act in any way that might be perceived as discriminatory and for that we apologize," the statement read.
Raine Blunk, the store manager, said that customers wrote to them alleging the policy violated their rights.
"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," he told WJCL.
Social media users reacted in anger over the store's decision to charge only white customers. In reactions posted under the statement, they said Civvies on Broughton committed a "huge mistake" with the move.
"Racism is disgusting in any form. Hope your shop goes under," one Instagram user wrote.
"I don't understand how no one understands that excluding one race in favor of another is racist no matter what color you are. Or the history. To end racism shit like this needs to not happen. On either side," another user wrote.