The store looked like your run of the mill Irish/Scottish gift shop. There was a cool tartan cape in the window which intrigued me, so in we went. Only to get about two feet into the store because the rest of the way was blocked by a table and this old lady. So we look at the stuff right in front of us and she asks if we are looking for anything in particular and we say, no we are just browsing. And instead of letting us by, she says “we don’t browse here, it’s a specialty shop.” So we left in a bit of a huff. (Okay, that doesn’t SEEM that rude at the outset, it was all in the tone.) But being a millennial, I immediately hop on to Yelp to see if it’s just us or if its the horrible shopkeeper. I find DOZENS of one star reviews recounting MUCH worse experiences than ours. They mostly start off the same- the woman won’t let people into the store, she asks if they are looking for anything particular, kicks out people who are browsing. But for those who engage her in conversation:
“She demanded to know our heritage (if we were Irish, welsh, or Scottish) as soon as you walk in, so be prepared to bring your ancestry.com profile. When I told her my Welsh last name she said it wasn’t welsh and that I couldn’t come in.”
“She proceeded to tell us, unsolicited, that she was a hillbilly and intimated she did not care for the influx of people from places like Height Ashberry and Seattle. And how our country’s foreign policy was off balance. She proceeded to rant about our foreign policy with Egypt.”
“All that is bad enough, but the blatant statements about the confederate flag, newspaper articles she thrusts in front of you about the lies concerning the flag, and other comments we didn’t stay to finish listening to were shocking.”
“As we walked out the door, we encountered a Hispanic family (also just wanting to browse this cute shop on a cute street in the lovely town of Asheville, just like we wanted to do) and the way they were treated was truly appalling. This woman is racist, rude, and bad for Ashevilles business.”
I even found a Scottish Kilt enthusiast message board with a 5 page thread about how awful she is!
The thing is, if you are a shop that sells an expensive specialty item (kilts in this case, I GUESS), it’s FINE to be by appointment only and close your doors to everyone else, places like bridal shops do it all the time. However, if you have a cheerful window, an open door, a cead mille failte (a hundred thousand welcomes) sign in your window, you have to expect that people will wander in. Especially if your shop is on a busy street in a tourist district. Just put up a “by appointment only” sign! She must be independently wealthy and run the shop specifically to yell at people because there is no WAY she is making much money.