John Anthony from the Taranaki Daily News reports:
Outspoken local body politician Sherril George is facing an investigation and calls to resign following her campaign urging people to boycott a Waitara food outlet.
Ms George stood outside the shop in the town’s main street yesterday next to a sign urging people to “support businesses that support your community”.
She handed out leaflets to shoppers berating the Cambodian-owned firm for, among other things, not being local, not employing locals, not investing in the local economy and for providing cheap and low quality products.
Unbelievable – a Councillor picketing a rate paying business, trying to close it down. Their sin, as far as I can tell, is they were born in Cambodia.
Ms George said the protest had nothing to do with her own food outlet in Waitara losing customers.
Oh my God, even worse.
“This is nothing to do with my shop. This is to do with the health of our town and the economy. I’m trying to make other small communities aware of what happens when these people move in. There are 14 food stores here in Waitara and one comes in here and kills it for everyone else.”
She referred to them as “these people”. Nah, she’s not racist.
Town and Country Food’s owner Hoyt Khuon said Ms George’s behaviour yesterday was very unusual. “I’ve never seen anybody behave like this before.”
If Ms George wanted to attract more customers she should improve her product, he said.
He sounds Kiwi to me. Good advice.
His business contributed significantly to the community, he said. He used Waitara builders, plumbers and electricians when he set up. Most products purchased for the shop were done so through Waitara businesses.
Mr Khuon considered himself a local already and would be happy to support future community projects, he said. He and his wife rented a home in Waitara.
“If I’m going to live here I’m going to be a local too. Everywhere I walk around here I feel safe and people say `Nice food’.” …
The business employed five people including himself and he would look to employ more Waitara residents in the future, he said.
Naki Butcher & Fruit Bowl owner Laine Cummings said his business had improved since Town and Country Food opened.
“I fully support it. I reckon they’ve done Waitara well. There’s a lot more foot traffic and a lot more people on the street,” he said.
Waitara businessman Jeff Davidson, who bought his morning tea from Town and Country Food yesterday, said he totally disagreed with Ms George’s behaviour.
The new business had brought positive changes to Waitara, he said.
“I’ve never seen the main street so full.”
Waitara resident Marcus Russ said Town and Country Food was a great addition to the town and claimed Ms George’s actions were more racist than anything else.
Another customer, Nadene Brown, said she ate there nearly every second day.
“This place gives you everything, it’s just a shame everyone is up in arms about it.”
Nice to see locals being fair minded.
The Waitara Hot Bread Shop owner, who did not want to be named, said sales had dropped about 50 per cent since Town and Country opened next door.
“It’s not fair for me having them right next door.”
Town and Country Food had stolen most of its customers, he said.
No they are not your customers to steal. It may seem unfair, but competition can”t be banned to protect current businesses.