Vernon, B.C. business groups urge respect after shop’s window smashed by ‘belligerent’ customer

Click to play video: 'Vernon business damaged by aggressive customer'
Vernon business damaged by aggressive customer
A Vernon, B.C. bookstore ended up with a smashed window after it showed aggressive customers the door last week. The business says problem customers have become more of an issue recently. Meanwhile, local business groups are urging people to remain respectful through pandemic challenges and say thankfully most people have been supportive of local shops – Feb 7, 2022

While the physical damage at Vernon, B.C., bookstore Expressions of Time was quickly fixed, the staff are still feeling the emotional fallout from a confrontation with belligerent customers on Friday.

Business owner Charlene Deuling said the customers weren’t following store policies and got upset.

Deuling said one of the two problem customers wasn’t fully following the store’s masking policy, but the pair were ultimately asked to leave because of their “belligerent” attitudes, not masking issues.

“We usually kill people with kindness and be helpful and stuff like that. They just started getting very annoyed that we were trying to help them. She started swearing, insulting my staff,” Deuling.

Deuling said the man tried to knock down a showcase after he was asked to leave and broke a window in the front door on his way out.

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“He was trying to come back in and he turned around and just elbow-smashed the door and broke it,” Deuling said.

She said a mother and daughter who are both employed at the store were closing the door and the glass shattered on them.

“My mother-daughter who worked for me were at the door closing it and the glass shattered all over them,” she said.

Deuling said the business has seen more problematic customer behaviour recently, “because everybody has their own opinion on what is and isn’t allowed” with things related to COVID and masking.

The executive director of the Downtown Vernon Association Keelan Murtagh said the city is “not immune to the pressures of the global pandemic,” but occurrences like what happened at Expression of Time are not very frequent.

Murtagh said people need to remember small businesses are doing the best they can in really trying times.

The Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce’s general manager Dan Proulx said the vast majority of people have been very supportive of local businesses throughout the pandemic.

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“Right now especially, I think, with the political climate, I am concerned that maybe people’s agitations are heightened. I worry that some behaviours like this could continue,” Proulx said.

“I certainly want to condemn those behaviours and make sure that people remain respectful of businesses and business owners.”

The bookstore owner is now feeling even more enthusiastic about her long-term plan to focus more on online sales where the type of confrontation that happened last week isn’t possible.

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