NJ store sparks outrage with ‘Speak English or Pay $10 Extra’ sign
The knives are out for a small New Jersey business after its owner recently posted a sign in the front window saying, “Speak English or Pay $10 Extra.”
For the past two weeks, Cutters Edge, a knife and blade sharpening shop in Clifton, has had its phone line clogged by angry callers, and been slammed by a deluge of furious online messages demanding that local officials close down the store.
“SHUT THEM DOWN FOR BEING RACIST PIECES OF S–T! RACISM IS NOT WELCOMED IN NJ!” @iamfarias tweeted, while another Twitter user, Jeremy Pierre, asked, “Isn’t this literally illegal?”
Outraged shoppers also swamped the small store’s Yelp reviews with negative one-star ratings and tirades about it being racist.
“ANYBODY with a parent, sister, friend or associate who speaks another language should feel enraged by this,” a reviewer named Keka R. wrote.
“I’d rather go to a business that fully understands we are living in a country where 350 different languages are spoken and nobody should be charged for simply that.”
Owner Dave Feinberg tried to defend the sign in an interview with NorthJersey.com, whose reporter said there were at least a dozen phone calls about the sign during their interview alone.
Feinberg said he put up the sign “out of frustration” two weeks ago after trying to deal with a customer who “made no attempt to speak English.”
“I had something to get off my chest,” he said. “The reason for the $10 is because he wasted 10 minutes of my time,” he explained, admitting it was a “mistake” to suggest he would charge extra.
“I should have said nothing else than, ‘Just speak English’ — or ‘Make an attempt to speak English.’”
He said people came in “laughing and giggling” at the sign — with some saying, “Wow, I’m glad someone did this!”
“I think people kind of laughed it off,” he said, insisting it was not initially “a problem” until the calls started blocking his phone line.
“Some of the people are quite vulgar,” he said of the deluge of calls. “People say ‘I hope you go out of business and lose everything,’” he said.
After the furious response, Feinberg eventually pulled down the sign on Tuesday, and told the local news site he may replace it with an apology — but conceded it may be too late to repair the damage to his reputation.
Clifton council member Rosemary Pino said the sign was at odds with a town that prides itself on its diversity.
“Messages like this put us back centuries,” Clifton told NorthJersey.com.
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