A shopkeeper has been branded ‘racist’ after opening a store that celebrates being British.
Chris Ostwald, 54, was shocked when his ‘Really British’ shop became the centre of a racism storm after it opened in Muswell Hill, north London.
From Daily Mail
Mr Ostwald wants to back our businesses and sells nostalgic British goods – but instead of creating national pride, he caused a furore.
Locals were furious with the businessman’s patriotic message and he has suffered such an onslaught of criticism that he was forced to take down his Union flags.
Mr Ostwald also said that one of his female assistants, a Spanish national, walked out after just one day after being subject to a barrage of abuse.
Many of his critics, in the largely pro-Remain borough of Haringey, have accused him of being insensitive during a period of heightened cultural tension.
Mr Ostwald said: ‘The shop is in no way meant to be ‘political’ or ‘pro Brexit’, but we have had a lot of complaints saying it is or we are ‘racist’!
‘A guy came in the other day and said, ‘what’s this, a charity shop?’
‘We said, ‘no, not at all’, and he said, ‘well it’s racist’, and stormed out.’
He added: ‘People have been coming in and just tut tutting and walking out again.’
Mr Ostwald has set up his shop selling British-themed gifts, homeware and kitsch in a bid to promote and publicise the best the United Kingdom has to offer.
His eclectic range of products include condiments, such as brown sauce, London underground tea towels and ‘Muswell Hillbillies’ mugs, hailing iconic local band the Kinks album.
He also sells suffragette aprons as well as stocking fillers like old-fashioned compasses.
But his bold decision to call his store ‘Really British’ has triggered fury on social media.
Michael Wright wrote on public Facebook group Muswell Hill and Friends: ‘Chris, while I applaud you setting up a business in Muswell Hill and employing local people I’m curious as to why you decided to call your shop ‘Really British’ (besides the obvious point that you will sell British-made goods)?
‘Like many people I live in London because of its international nature, and for me personally having a big sign on the Broadway saying ‘Really British’ makes me feel you’re implying that other local businesses in the area are therefore somehow ‘not really British’.
‘Some will no doubt say I’m over-sensitive.
‘But I can’t help thinking that given the recent divisive referendum and the current political climate you might have chosen a more inclusive name in 2016.’
Criticism: A number of people on the Muswell Hill and Friends Facebook group took issue with the name of the store and suggested it was insensitive
Another person on the group asked: ‘Do you have to be really British to work in the shop?’
James Walpole wrote: ‘Really British” is a bit of an odd choice so soon after the referendum in a area that voted remain, and I think it will put a lot of people off.
Poster Bridget Rudder said: ‘I think the name is fine providing the shop is selling British made goods? Which are Made in Britain fabrics and raw materials sources in Britain… very unlikely unless they are wares sold by the owner, given our industry is all about importing cheap and selling high, which means if the shop doesn’t it is just cleverly playing on the political climate and not supporting British industry… hmm not so British…’
However, while some were outraged, others supported Mr Ostwald.
Liz Waterhouse wrote: ‘Haha I knew someone would soon moan about the name. Errr what country are we in? Get a life!’
Wendy Hosford said: ‘He can call his shop want he wants.’
Support: Some on the Muswell Hill and Friends Facebook group have defended Mr Ostwald’s new best of British shop
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