Facebook Sparks Harassment of F.O.B. Store Owner

The owner of Town and Country's F.O.B. store tells Patch she is being harassed after discrimination allegations and a Facebook boycott of her store. Police are taking the actions seriously, while the mother whose story sparked the outrage speaks out again

What started with an email from a Town and Country mother who felt her son was being discriminated against, has turned into a nightmare for one Town and Country business owner.

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A Facebook page alleging discrimiation at  in Town and Country's Lamp and Lantern Village has sparked a firestorm of comments on Facebook and even here on the Town and Country-Manchester Patch site. 

Town and Country resident Shelly Arnold Reynolds said she and her son, Carter, were asked to leave the F.O.B. store by owner Kay Wallace and Reynolds claims discrimination against her four-year-old son who suffers from cerebral palsy.

Wallace contends the two were never asked to leave the store and that she only asked Reynolds to hold her child's hand due to the tight quarters and breakables in the store.

"This is not about descrimination, this is about safety," Wallace tells Patch. "We ask all parents to watch their little ones."

But Reynolds story sparked the creation of a Facebook page to boycott F.O.B, although Reynolds tells Patch she did not create the page, and it began a firestorm of comments that have spread online and across the country.

Wallace said she and her employees are now being harassed and she has even gotten the police involved.

"Because the girls here (at the store) were kind of worried that someone would come in and do something, so I called them and asked them if they'd drive by," Wallace tells Patch.

"The bottom line is we will investigate any type of threat made to any person," Town and Country Police Captain Gary Hoelzer tells Patch. "People may not like the practice of an individual, but you can't threaten them. That's illegal and then you cross the line and become the criminal. We'll be diligent. We'll try and track these people down and get IP addresses of those making threats if we need to."

In addition to the comments online, Wallace said she has received harassing phone calls with people cussing at her and store employees and she has had people come into her store and lash out.

"We had school teacher walk in here and scream, 'You are despicable, you are despicable!'" Wallace said. "It's just so bizzare. Who would do that? Who would call us and curse, or who would walk into a store and scream? What kind of environment do we live in today? We have people calling from Boston, all over the country."

Wallace said people have even made harassing phone calls to the owner of , a store located next door to F.O.B. 

"How does it escalate to the point where they post a website to destroy a person's business and put them out of business. It's their livelihood. Doesn't that seem like something's missing here. It just seems like something's wrong. A person perceives they are insulted and they just put you out of business and destroy your livelihood?"

Although it's still unclear who created the Facebook page causing all the controversy, Wallace still holds Reynolds responsible for the attacks on her and her business. 

"They call it cyber-lynching. How do you combat something like that? It would not have occurred if she had not written her email," Wallace said. 

Her real concern is not for her safety, it's for her livelihood.

"The ultimate goal here now is to destroy someone's business," Wallace said. "I just look at it like this, If somebody's going to take a gun out and shoot me, they're just going to take a gun out and shoot me, there 's nothing that I can do," Wallace said. "All these people who jumped on the bandwagon, that's really disturbing, the climate that we're living in. And if it can happen to me, it can happen any small business owner."

Reynolds maintains that her account of the incident inside the F.O.B. store is accurate and reiterates she did feel like her son was being discrimiated against, but she tells Patch the point of sharing her story in her email was not to spure a firestorm of harassment against Wallace.

"I, too, have gotten harrassed over this. People who do not believe that I should have been in the store with a 4-year-old, much less a 4-year-old with a wallker, " Reynolds tells Patch. "I was told I was using the disability card to gain 15 minutes of fame."

However, Reynolds said that is not the case. She said her point of writing the original email that sparked the Facebook page was only to raise awareness to what she said happened.

I feel at this time that I've gotten my message out and how I feel I was treated in the store," Reynolds said. "People's actions speak louder than words. You can say that you are handicapped accessible, but that doesn't mean you are going to make their stay in your store pleasant. You can make sure they don't come back again by treating them certain ways. And people get away with it every day because you can't prove it."

Reynolds said one of the most upsetting parts of this issue that has come up is that people have commented online that she should not have been in that store. 

"I want to shop in those places. I shop at small businesses. I prefer to shop at a mom and pop store any day rather than a chain. I try to support the community and small business owners. I was there to support small business," Reynolds tells Patch.

She does not wish any harm to Wallace or her business, but felt it was important that no one else be treated the way she said he son was treated.

"I don't wish any ill will on her or her store, I don't agree with her having been harassed and I do not agree with her being threatened. I never asked anyone to do that and I don't know anyone who did that. I don't know the person who created the F.O.B. (Facebook) page and no one I know, knows who wrote it," Reynolds said. "This is her bread and butter and how she makes a living. I don't want her livelihood to be taken away from her. I just want her to know how she made us feel."

And Reynolds said that has always her goal, not hurting Wallace, but helping her son.

"That's what I am trying to make people aware of. I want Carter to grow up and hold his head up high," Reynolds explained. "He should be able to participate fully in apects of life without being hassled."

Wallace tells Patch despite all of the harassing calls, she is also receiving calls of support from friends and other small business owners.

"Our phone has not stopped ringing from other people and small business owners telling us how they could not believe what's happened," Wallace said.

She adds that her attorney has also suggested she sue for slander and defamation.

"I was told that we definitely have a lawuit because it is definitely slander, someone trying to destroy your business, but I have not even thought about that really."

anna anderson February 15, 2012 at 01:21 PM
I believe the mother of this child went to far! I have never been to this store but this lady definitely acted out of anger. Both ladies could have handled it differently. Now it seems this mother went to far. I Will be praying for both the mother and the store owner. Its sad to see people always using discrimination to get back at others.
Bonnie Krueger February 15, 2012 at 02:46 PM
Were not enough comments left on the original post? Seriously, this is a she said/she said. Perhaps both parties over-reacted and since no one commenting was an eye-witness, why are so many people taking sides!? Discrimination should not be tolerated but who knows the REAL TRUTH of what happened. How is harassing any better than discrimination? I feel sorry for both parties involved. This has turned into a media circus in my opinion.
Kay February 15, 2012 at 04:34 PM
It's amazing how truly ugly people can be. Mobs are ugly and this is nothing short of a mob. The store owner may have been insensitive but as someone who has raised two children I can tell you I'd never consider taking a small child into a curio shop. The woman who started this should be ashamed of herself. She should also be worried about her Karma because she has unleashed a torrent of ugliness and put turned this store owner's life upside down and she had no right to do that. Airing a dispute on a public forum can have dire consequences and can go beyond what either party ever expected. This is one of those times. The store owner also has a lawsuit on her hands for tortious interference with a business not to mention defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress. I hope she sues the women who did this.
Kay February 15, 2012 at 04:38 PM
You're missing the point. It's not about who's right or wrong or what really happened, it's about one woman destroying another woman and her business, with social media. The store owner had a legitimate concern for the child's safety (being sued truth be told) and her inventory. No small child should be taken in to a curio shop. It's just bad form. People should not air their disputes on social media sites and the mother had no right to destroy this woman and her business which is what she's attempting to do no matter what she says to the contrary. When you call on people to boycott a business, you are trying to ruin in. We see how vicious women can be. This is so high school It.
Maureen Adams February 15, 2012 at 04:42 PM
I've been following this story as my daughter is a classmate of Carter's. When I first heard what happened, I actually cried. Mom's of children with disabilities want their kids to be treated with respect. I'm so glad that Shelly shared what happened and people can decide where they want to spend their money, but no one should threaten the store/employees. I would like to correct Kay Wallace - this whole thing wouldn't have happened if she would have handled the situation differently. I don't think as many people would feel so strongly if a sincere apology was offered instead of threatening to sue for slander and explaining why the child shouldn't have been there. I have a hard time believing some of the Kay Wallace's statements as in her original statements she did not deny telling Carter he should leave and "he would be better served elsewhere". She also said that she didn't realize that he was handicapped which is hard to beleive since she saw his walker. Let's all move forward and remember that kids with disabilities (and their moms) have feelings too!
Marissa February 15, 2012 at 04:58 PM
I know that when I heard this I was horrified and definately won't give this store my business. I do think, though, that this has really gone too far. No one deserves threats, ever. I hope people will just comment and start discussions on how to treat the disabled. If you support the store owners actions, shop there. If you don't, don't.
kay February 15, 2012 at 05:07 PM
I didn't realize the store owner's name is Kay. Kay is just my screen name because it's my first initial. I don't know any of the people involved in this.
kay February 15, 2012 at 05:10 PM
Do you take your four year old into curio shops filled with expensive breakables? Because if you are, you shouldn't. It's simply bad manners and irresponsible. The mother in this situation invited the confrontation. It appears to me that she is quite good at playing the victim and perhaps invited this situation purposefully. The store owner was insensitive but the mother should not have had the child in the store. Nor does the store owner deserve to be set upon by an uninformed, ignorant mob who doesn't know the whole story. Again, I am not the owner, I just used my first initial as my screen name. Didn't realize the store owner's name was Kay.
Maureen Adams February 15, 2012 at 07:44 PM
Yes, I would take my five year old daughter (who happens to be in a wheelchair) into a home decor/gift shop. I would make sure that my daughter and the merchandise were both safe. I admire carter's mom - she takes him everywhere and doesn't let his disability prevent them from doing anything. I strive to be a mom more like this!!! She in no way invited this to happen. FYI - there are plenty of stores that go out of their way to support people with disabilities.
kay February 15, 2012 at 07:58 PM
I wouldn't take an able bodied child into a curio shop. This has nothing to do with disabilities you understand. The owner didn't want a child in her shop and I don't blame her. Many parents simply expect other people to put up with their children. in adult environments I see it all over nowadays, especially restaurants. I've raised two children of my own but I walk into a restaurant where I want to relax and enjoy some wine and good food and I see a table full of children, I turn right around and walk out the door. And I also do not see the point of going into a curio shop with a child. Because I am conctientious I would not be able to relax and shop if I had a child with me. I'm not sure why people feel the need to go out of their way to provoke people then claim victimization which is exactly what this mother did. This has little if anything to do with the disabled. The disabled are not exempt from basic manners and consideration and a four year old in a shop like this is a bad idea. Period. The owner did not handle it well though but the mother was out of line as well.
Maureen Adams February 15, 2012 at 08:26 PM
I can't believe the owner's or your attitude towards children (regardless of a disability or not). Let me know where/when you are going to dinner and I'll be there with my family!
kay February 15, 2012 at 08:44 PM
I figure you would. You are just the type I am talking about. You have no regard for others. I raised two children of my own and I made a point to be very considerate of others and not to take my children into adult environments. We are different and sadly there are a lot of parents these days who think they have the right to impose their children on others. You give parents a bad name.
kay February 15, 2012 at 09:15 PM
P.s. Not to condone the way the store owner handled it which was evidently, badly. Besides, my original point was how terrible it is how easily people are willing to destroy another person before even getting their facts straight. This episode has really shown how truly ugly people can be when they turn into a mob. Most people are really bullies at their core.
william wilson February 15, 2012 at 10:19 PM
I read Ms Reynolds online letter. To me it read as a person with an agenda and a chip on her shoulder. And the aftermath with the boycott postings did come across as a real vendetta. It appears that the facebook page has been taken down but there are thousands of postings out there that will stay forever. Perhaps the store owner could have handled things better but just because something is legal is it may not be morally right. I would be highly hesitant to take a normal child into such a store. I have seen some small youngsters with walkers and a good many of them could be rather erratic in their movements. To me this is a real case of knee jerk and poorly thought out reactions. Especially the creation of the Boycott page.
David February 16, 2012 at 12:11 AM
I think this is BS, If the lady of the store would of said nothing and the child knocked and broke valuables that totaled $3458.77 Do you think the mother would of kindly said "here is my American Express" I'll be happy to pay for the damages. LOL Give me a break.... If it were my store I would of not wanted her in my store if the young child had a walker. Discrimination? I think not. The accident is waiting to happen. Leave the store owner alone as she might want to consider sueing this lady for all the harm and financial loss the mothers actions caused. I love children but certain situations you should avoid as a store with valuable breakables at a childs access.
Cococatao February 16, 2012 at 01:38 AM
The business isn't hurt. They clearly do not want children in the store and they have been blessed with a great deal of free press as to their business wishes. They should be thankful that they have been able to spread the word far and wide as to who is welcome in their store. Shelly should charge them for the service she has provided.
TJ Corwin February 16, 2012 at 02:09 AM
The business is not under any legal obligation to serve whoever walks in the door - regardless of the reason, they can dictate rules of the store and remove anyone for a variety of reasons such as disturbing products or bothering customers. It doesn't matter what was said or how the mother felt about it. Those breaking the laws with threats or boycott need to be prosecuted.
william wilson February 16, 2012 at 02:16 AM
Cococatao That is almost as as ignorant statement as it would be for me to say that Ms Reynolds had her pity party with its several days of basking in the lime light.
Maureen Adams February 16, 2012 at 03:00 AM
I don't know the legal business obligations, but I think there would be a moral obligation to treat everyone (especially those with a disability) with respect. I strongly agree that no one should threaten the store or it's employees. I do think it's interesting that the example given was a teacher calling the owner dispicable (If that is the case - I think I had several nuns as teachers that broke the law). I'm not a lawyer, but I don't think it's against the law to encourage your friends to not support a business that you don't agree with it's practices.
David February 16, 2012 at 03:39 AM
Cococatao, you must be doing drugs or just mentally unfit. You thoughts on this are the thoughts of a child
Gabrielle Biondo (Editor) February 16, 2012 at 03:24 PM
I have removed comments calling other Patch users names. Although we appreciate and encourage comments on this issue, there are terms and conditions users of this site must abide by. You agreed to them when you signed up as a user. Please do so. Personal attacks and name calling will be removed from the comments. If you have questions. Please email me at Gabrielle.BIondo@Patch.com.
Amanda Moran- Sansone March 01, 2012 at 05:59 AM
She didn't "start" the social media outrage. She emailed some friends. I'd do the same thing. Yes, it went too far, but I do believe this business owner was discriminating and rude. I do not think the mother went too far. She was upset, and she wanted to make sure people don't get away with treating others like this. What happens when her son grows up and wants to shop at a store like that? He shouldn't be allowed? That's ridiculous. I don't really feel for the store owner. She was never once even slightly apologetic. All she cared about was "poor her".
Amanda Moran- Sansone March 01, 2012 at 06:00 AM
I agree, Maureen!
Amanda Moran- Sansone March 01, 2012 at 06:01 AM
Agreed, Marissa. I really felt for Carter and his Mom. What happens when he is older and wants to shop at a store like that? He's going to be asked to leave because of his walker? What a disgrace.
Amanda Moran- Sansone March 01, 2012 at 06:03 AM
What about when he's a grown man and comes in your store with a walker? You going to ask him to leave then too?


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