A New Jersey knife shop owner is facing a social media firestorm over a sign he posted on his window charging customers more if they don’t speak English.
Dave Feinberg grew frustrated after a customer came into the Cutter’s Edge, his knife and blade sharpening shop in Clifton, who only spoke Spanish.
“I had an impossible time understanding somebody, and the communication between this guy and myself was virtually none, and I tried,” the 71-year-old told the Daily News. “And he made no attempt to communicate with me in a language i understood.”
As a result, he explained, a simple job became more complicated. So he posted a sign in his window: “Speak English or Pay $10 Extra.”
“I guess the frustration factor got to me, but it had nothing to do with speaking English or Spanish or any other language,” he said. “It was about when we’re here, we are able to understand each other.”
This was three weeks ago. And initially, it got little attention.
“I thought it would be laughed off, pretty much, I didn’t think it would insult anybody,” Feinberg said. “I didn’t think I was stepping on anybody’s toes.”
Then over the Labor Day weekend, someone on Twitter snapped a photo of the sign and posted it online. When Feinberg returned to his shop Tuesday, he discovered a slew of angry voice mails.
“All hell broke loose,” he said. “I’ve been getting phone calls from all over the place, I’ve had people walk in and tell me they were going to close by business down.”
Even many of his regular customers have turned their back on him.
“I’ve had calls from them, that they said ‘oh, you’re a racist, I’ll never come back again,’” he said.
He noted, however, that he has received message of support as well.
“I have had calls from people all over the place,” he said. “I had one guy from Greece, whose message I saved on my answering machine, supporting everything I said.”
Feinberg, who considers himself a descendant of immigrants and has owned the knife shop since 1975, has since taken down the sign. He replaced it with an apology note, and even recorded a similar apology on his voicemail.
As a small business owner who has struggled during the coronavirus pandemic, he hopes people will accept his regret, and understand it was simply about making sure he and the customer understood one another.
“Some people said they accept my apology,” he said, but “some people have said it’s too late for an apology.”
(c)2020 New York Daily News
Visit New York Daily News at www.nydailynews.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
This content is published through a licensing agreement with Acquire Media using its NewsEdge technology.