Antique store stands by KKK figurine: 'I'm sorry if you're offended, but we feel it's a part of history'
An antique store displaying a $300 Ku Klux Klan figurine for sale will keep it on its shelves, despite negative customer reviews.
Ericka Boussarhane, 45, was shopping at Uncle Billy’s Antique Mall in Pensacola, Fla., on Monday, when she saw the ceramic figure dressed in KKK gear, a white robe and a hood. “I stopped in my tracks and thought, am I dreaming? Because obviously, this can’t be happening,” Boussarhane tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “I took a moment to gather myself and asked the manager why she was selling it.”
The manager, Melissa Hollis, told Boussarhane that the store offers historical artifacts to people that its staff believe are not racist. She cited as an example that she once declined to sell an authentic KKK robe to a customer who wanted to leave racist propaganda in the store. “He wanted to pass out KKK literature and pamphlets, he told us that. We backed out. It didn’t matter how much money he was willing to give us. His money didn’t mean that much to us,” Hollis told the Pensacola News Journal.
Explaining how she evaluates her customers, “I’m not gonna interview them, but if it comes across that they’re a hateful person I’m not going to sell it to them,” Hollis told the newspaper. “If you don’t like it, just don’t come here again. I’m sorry, it’s not like we don’t want anyone to stop coming here, but if you’re offended by it then just don’t come.”
The store eventually sold the robe to a customer who didn’t express racist views during the sale, Hollis told the Pensacola News Journal.
Boussarhane tells Yahoo Lifestyle that after speaking to Hollis, she left the store. However, she took photos of other items — framed images of a black boy depicted as a monkey, a man wearing blackface, and a vintage toothpaste ad that read, “Darkie toothpaste. Gets teeth their whitest!”
Boussarhane posted them on Facebook. “Why would a local business have this for sale?” she wrote. “Ironically, it’s Black History month!! Thanks, but I’ll pass!! This business will not get any of my $$$.”
Hollis could not be reached for comment by Yahoo Lifestyle. But as she told the Pensacola News Journal, “It just makes me sad that this whole thing is going to bring up racism when really and truly it shouldn’t. I told [Boussarhane] I’m sorry if you’re offended, but we feel it’s a part of history. There’s always going to be someone angry about that, that’s the way the world goes.”
Hollis and the owner of the store, Billy Boyette (whose Facebook profile picture shows a man waving a Confederate flag), are reportedly selling the KKK figurine for a third-party vendor with the store and collecting a percentage of the profit.
On Uncle Billy’s Facebook page, Boussarhane and Hollis continued their disagreement. “Even though I do not care for any KKK memorabilia, I do not believe it telling people what they can and can not do!” wrote Hollis.
Boussarhane tells Yahoo Lifestyle that the items would more appropriately be preserved in a museum. “Melissa said the figurine is an educational experience — how much education are you providing to window shoppers? I’m just not buying it.”
In October, Boyette had a mural of the serial killer Ted Bundy — who was arrested in the town on the same block in 1978 — painted outside the store, which ignited controversy. “I’m hardcore with my opinions,” Boyette told the Pensacola News Journal.“It ain’t no different from being a Democrat or a Republican, you either stand on one side of the fence or the other. Like I said, I’m not trying to offend nobody, that’s the last thing I want to do. But on the other hand, I’m real firm about it. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to walk through those doors. But I invite everybody to come in and check it out one time and then make your decision from there.”
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