So, I am sitting in my store after crying my eyes out because it was the only way to relieve the stress of a terrible terrible day.
So, this is how the day went:
I have to start at the beginning so you understand. Sometime last week I noticed a page on FaceBook about "Wellness Week". The local Dundas Wellness Week is an event held by the local business association, and lots of local businesses( including mine-Ellenoire) in the downtown area are participating- giving demonstrations, tastings, etc all discussing and displaying things surrounding wellness. On this facebook event page I discovered the info and photo that is used by the Business Association( hereafter referred to as the BIA) for their marketing campaign for the event. To my surprise it was not the BIA hosting this "event" on this page at all it was a local political party. On the page words stated on the page were/are: "Here is a list of the events that require our presence..." on this list were the events that my store is hosting amongst others.
My interpretation of the page is that there is a political party planning to place people in or near my store to "spread the word" about their parties message in the upcoming national election during events that my customers will be attending. I was not happy about this. I am in business to make money, not have conflict in my store with customers and political campaigners. My store feeds my son, my store pays my bills. My store is not a place for anyone, including me and my staff to make overt statements about their personal political choices. So, the idea of a party deciding without my permission that they will be attending the events in my store with the plan to "spread the word" to my clients made me angry. I wrote a note on their wall saying that no one campaigning would be permitted in my store without permission and I suggested they ask other businesses permission as well. It was clear I was unhappy about their presumptuousness but I was not unpleasant or mean. I also stated that this was not about my political opinion at all.
I expected backlash on the facebook wall, but I did not expect what ended up happening. My comment on the facebook wall was deleted, and was replaced with a statement that they would be "contacting all businesses before campaigning" In the spirit of social media the fact that they deleted my harmless comment was a little silly, but.... This afternoon at 12:30 I received a call from someone from this party. The tone of voice used by this person seemed to me to be confrontational. The call went something like this: Hi I am from the --------- party, and I am calling to tell you that we will be attending your event(s) during wellness week
So I asked if they were intending at attend as customers... and she said well we will come with 2 or 3 of us in our party t-shirts during your demonstration and just stand there, we won't be campaigning or anything and I said "well I would prefer you didn't"
and after a few more words then she hung up the phone.
I was quite upset, trying to imagine what might happen if these campaigners being here would cause any issue with my customers.
I called the head of the BIA to let her know about the facebook page. I was on the phone and 30 minutes after the phone call a car with several people in the party colours and campaign t-shirts pulled up to the parking spot in front of my store. After watching them for 15 minutes, talking amongst themselves and giving out a few of what appeared to be campaign flyers or cards I closed my store. I was so upset after the phone call that I wanted to be sure that my customers did not think that these people outside my store meant that I was affiliated with that party, or any party for that matter! For the next hour or so the party campaigners actively walked the street in party tshirts, carrying signs going in and out of stores using the car in front of my store as a base to get things in and out of. Once they were clearly not hovering around my store anymore I re-opened.
Throughout the day I remained quite upset. I had not eaten well, I was worried that my simple statement on the facebook page could escalate to these things. A phone call from someone "telling" me they were coming to my events, and a group of people parking right in front of my store.... what was going to happen next?
At 5pm, 4 hours after they arrived the party people finally drove away.
At 5:50 I received this email from an anonymous email address.
The email was entitled "Friendly" the body of the email said this:
FYI, for future reference The chief Electoral Officer indicates NO-One can limit campaigning on public property and store owners who try to do so are liable for $2000.00 fine or 6 months in jail.
Have a a great day!
As you can imagine an email with an implied threat like that upset me even more. My fears came true. It has escalated again. Is this Canadian Politics? Or does it remind you of anything else? All I know right now is that my voting choices just got easier. Whether these people that chose to make me feel threatened and like a prisoner in my own store today are following party rules I do not know. If the party constituent chose to chat with me today after finding out from the BIA rep that I had received the call and about the facebook issue then I may have given him the time to apologise, or even tell me his point of view. Instead, he walked by my store dozens of times knowing there was a conflict and he did nothing. Manners? No, not from anyone in that party today.
You tell me dear bloggy bits readers. What should I make of this?