Antique Sugar co-owner Sarah Bingham is tired of arguing with customers who don’t want to put on a mask before coming into the vintage clothing shop in Phoenix, Arizona.
The store was closed for 2½ months because of the coronavirus pandemic. Bingham said they put up a polite sign when the store reopened on June 1 asking people to wear a mask, so the staff could stay healthy and keep the business open.
Most people were happy to comply, and the store gave masks to shoppers who didn’t have one, she said.
“The people that didn’t want to wear a mask, really didn’t want to wear a mask and they wanted to argue about it and just tell me it didn’t work, or that it was stupid,” she said.
Bingham said she was tired of arguing, so on Monday, she put up a blunt new sign.
“If you choose not to wear a mask, we respectfully ask that you postpone your visit,” the sign says. “We’ll be happy to debate the efficacy of masks when this is all over and you come in to sell your dead grandmother’s clothes.”
It concluded with the message “TL;DR Masks Required.”
She posted a photograph of the sign on Facebook and it’s been shared widely on social media. A popular post on Reddit featuring the photo was titled, “Arizona vintage store telling it like it is.”
Bingham said the store has been flooded with calls, emails and social media messages.
Most have been supportive, she said, but some included angry comments from people saying the sign is making light of the pandemic, which has hit seniors and people with health problems particularly hard.
“I’m a little disappointed that people think that we’re being callous when I feel like it’s exactly the opposite,” she said. “Like I feel like we’re doing our best to protect the vulnerable, we’re not profiting off of anybody’s dead grandmother.”
The store receives a lot of its inventory from estate sales, so the sign is just being honest, she said.
Bingham said grandmothers from all over the world have called and left voice mails thanking the store for standing up for them.
Arizona is one of the states that has seen a dramatic spike recently in the number of coronavirus cases and Gov. Doug Ducey has ordered the closing of bars, gyms movie theaters and other businesses to slow the virus’ spread.
The social media uproar has attracted new customers to Antique Sugar, but Bingham said the store has paused its online sales on Instagram because of the volume of messages.
The store has received a few threats, so Bingham hired a security guard from the bar next door to protect against any potential drama.
Bingham said that if anyone at the shop contracted the virus, the store would probably have to close for about two weeks. She said she’s mostly concerned for her parents, her staff’s loved ones and everyone else they come in contact with.
“If I get it at work and end up passing it to somebody that can’t recover, that’s the most awful thing in the world and we need to be thinking about other people, not ourselves,” she said.