Dollars And (No Common) Sense..
Our Experience With Carolina Girls
Hey all Happy Monday!
It has been a busy, crazy, eventful weekend for Good Enough Mother. Or more appropriately, my daughter, Casey.
This is a long and very involved story and I am going to try to break it down so it’s easier to digest. Many of you who follow me on Facebook, already know much of this but have asked for a concise version. So here goes.
Casey, the Atlantic and me
(Photo credit: Sabrina Polkowski)
My family owns a home on Kiawah Island, South Carolina where we vacation several times a year. It’s always fun, restful and relaxing.
Near the home is a shopping center called Freshfields Village a quaint area with upscale shops and dining.
One of those shops is Carolina Girls.
Carolina Girls in Freshfields Village
Casey and her friend Sabrina went in look at wallets for the upcoming school year. The store has two sections, one with clothing and tchotchkes, the other side is a like a mid-range jewelry store.
As soon as Casey walked in, the 40-something, white saleswoman turned to her younger colleague and said, “Shoplifter” at which point they both giggled.
It was not a whisper. It was loud enough for Casey to hear and meant to be demeaning.
Casey, who, unlike me is non-confrontational, put the wallet back, turned and walked out.
But that shit hurt. I heard it in her voice. I could see it in her face.
I posted about it on my personal Facebook page where it was shared more than 1,000 times and garnered nearly 400 comments/interactions.
People also left comments on Freshfields Facebook page as well as that of Carolina girls, which now looks like this:
Oh. Look there..
But wait, I’m getting ahead of myself. In response to my post and the comments about it on their page, Carolina Girls posted a statement on their Facebook page. Here see for yourself.
Oh.. never mind. But here was the first “apology”.
“Sad to see these comments on our social media.” ? Not sorry that an event may have happened; sorry that they’re being called out.
They did send me an email AFTER their posted statement. You will note, it is not signed by a person so I really have no idea who wrote it.
Their conditional apology, left much to be desired. Why?
Because there are a million different ways you can say, sorry without putting yourself in legal jeopardy (if that’s what they were concerned with) and it starts with being heartfelt, which this statement was not.
Their self-centered “apology” pissed off a lot of folks who continued to let them know via their (now defunct) Facebook page.
The social shares continued and I began tweeting to them and their brands.
Because people pay attention when money or reputation is at stake.
Well most people, anyway.
Most people would want to get to the bottom of this.
Most companies, especially those in customer service would WANT to at least TRY to make it right.
Carolina Girls continued their woeful display of ineptitude when, a few hours later, they released the following statement:
1.We have conducted an extensive investigation into what actually transpired at our store yesterday. After an in-depth inquiry conducted with every employee at the store, not one of them witnessed any such incident as has been alleged.
1a: They conducted an in-depth investigation without contacting/talking to the person the aggrieved person, Casey Parham.
2. We are as shocked as the rest of you that this type of slur would be uttered anywhere near, much less in our store. We can only conclude that the comment may have come from young shoppers in the store at the same time as Ms. Parham.
2a: As I mentioned before the store has two sections. Case and her friend Sabrina Polkowski were in the section of the store alone.
3. Since none of our employees saw Ms. Parham either, it would be difficult to verify,
3a: Blatant lie: Several young employees Casey and Sabrina’s age interacted with them in the other portion of the store, specifically telling them about sales on Tom’s shoes.
4. If this had occurred at our store, the employee would no longer be in our hire.
4a: So you’re saying this didn’t happen?
5. This is not behavior we’re accustomed to seeing, and we’re very sorry that anyone patronizing our store would offer such an inappropriate accusation as this, simply to be hurtful.
5a: Are they saying what I think they are saying? Are they saying Casey Parham is accusing them of something that did NOT happen?
6. That is not our culture and it’s not our style. We’re sorry for the consternation this alleged incident created.
6a: “Alleged incident” Damn.
7. We are relieved to report the result of our inquiry but are sorry if it did in fact happen in our store.
7a: If it did happen in their store. Oh man.
8. We’ll reach out to Ms. Syler privately as well and hope we can get her into the store for the positive experience we are devoted to delivering to every customer who walks in the door.
8a: This is where they should have started.
Perhaps the most stunning (and truly it was all stunning and not in a good way), was the inference that Casey lied. —> we’re very sorry that anyone patronizing our store would offer such an inappropriate accusation as this, simply to be hurtful.
Wow. At this point I’m really starting to wonder if Carolina Girls is actually TRYING to make themselves look worse.
The tweets, Facebook mentions to their page, my page Freshfields page, all continued.
Until Carolina Girls social media strategist (whoever that is) decided to start deleting all the comments that were not favorable to Carolina Girls. Of course people noticed because. Well. Internet.
Because they have control over their own page, I urged people who had been following this fiasco, to go over to Yelp and leave a review. Yelp reviews cannot be removed by the business owner.
But you know what they can do?
Establish fake profiles and create fraudulent reviews. Which. Well. Yeah.
And this one.
You will note, the African American woman’s name is Shanequia B. Only it’s not really. Her name is Tiffany Hines and she’s a well known actress. How do we figure that out?
Well. You know. Internet.
I reported the fake profiled to Yelp and they have since been dropped below the fold and not figured into the store’s overall ranking, which is currently one star.
Because. Well. Customer service.
By this time their brands are now figuring out something is going on because a few of them reached out to me directly as well as some other people just wanting to do the right thing. One of those was Vera Bradley, whose director of communications is sending Casey a note from the company.
There are others which I am going to save for a separate post because they really don’t deserve to be buried in this Carolina Girls shit storm.
Just when I thought it couldn’t get much worse, I found this public post on my Rene Syler, aka Good Enough Mother Page:
Oh Jenny. Jenny. Jenny. Jenny. That is your real name isn’t it?
Jenny Harrington, whose Facebook page has one photo on it, no cover picture and not been posted on since May 2015. Oh and is no longer there.
And I’m starting to sound fishy?
So where does this leave us? Well Casey and I have several interviews today and several of the brands carried by Carolina Girls have reached out with the general message that this is NOT on brand for them. So for those (very few) who didn’t understand why I was tweeting their brands, THIS is why.
Brands need to know where their merchandise is sold. We as consumers need to know that where we choose to spend our money appreciates our business at most; at the very least doesn’t treat us like criminals as soon as we cross the threshold.
For Carolina Girls: Good GOD people.. I don’t even know where to start. Perhaps here: Don’t racially profile shoppers and then insult them. There is a part of me that wonders if they would have treated me that way? They may have felt some sort of way but I doubt they would have said anything because I’m a grown ass woman. They said that nonsense to a college student. A child. That makes them bullies of the worst order.
Instead of trying to make it better, they insulted and undermined Casey at every turn. Don’t do that. Learn the art of apology and make sure it has some heart in it.
For those of you who questioned why I continued on with this: one word.
Casey… (Photo Cred: Sabrina Polkowski)
I have spent 19 years telling this child she can do anything she wants. And that’s true; except change the color of her skin. A bit of her innocence died that day. I am thankful that it took this long but still…
That shit hurt.
It hurt me.
It hurt her.
To my darling daughter please know this: You have power. You have a voice. You matter. You did the right thing that day, holding your head high and choosing to spend your dollars elsewhere.
You are, in a word, amazing.
Never let anyone dim your shine.
As the curtain comes up on your life, show us your #BlackGirlMagic.
The world is waiting.
I love you.
Photo cred: Sabrina Polkowski