Sarah Bingham has spent the last few weeks encouraging customers to wear masks in her vintage clothing store, Antique Sugar, and it's been a struggle at times. So earlier this week, the Arizona-based business owner decided to clearly spell out her store's mask requirement for shoppers who may not be taking the pandemic threat seriously.
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On Monday morning, Bingham grabbed some paper and tape and posted a makeshift sign with a bold message in her store's entryway: "If you choose not to wear a mask, we respectfully ask that you postpone your visit. We'll be happy to debate the efficacy of masks with you when this is all over and you come in to sell your dead grandmother's clothes."
Bingham told TODAY Style she didn't have time to create anything fancy, and hoped the message would resonate more with customers than her previous sign, which read: "Thank you for wearing a mask. Need one? We got you. Help us stay safe so we can stay open.”
"I was just tired of having to ask people to put on masks then having them get (aggravated) and leave. Most of our customers are respectful and don’t question our policy but there have been some people that really want to put up a fight," she said.
After posting a photo of the sign to her Facebook page, Bingham's message quickly went viral and several Twitter and Reddit users shared it on their accounts as well. Many social media users were left speechless by the shop owner's message.
Many people seemed to agree with Bingham's words.
And a few business owners even considered copying the sign in their own stores.
Still, some social media users questioned how shoppers would respond to the sassy sign.
And some thought the message could hit too closely home for families who lost a loved one to COVID-19.
The sign has only been up a few days so far, but Bingham said she's been pleasantly surprised by how well it's working.
"So far, the reaction has been good. People laugh about it when they come in. I haven’t heard anything negative yet," she said. "I have it posted right outside our door; you basically have to trip over it to get into the shop. So maybe it is acting like a deterrent and (some) people are choosing not to come in."
In an effort to keep her staff safe, the business owner is also having her employees work their shifts alone to minimize exposure levels. "If I get sick and can’t work, then I’m out of business. I’m trying my best to save my livelihood," Bingham said.
And she has a strong message for people who aren't keen on the idea of wearing a mask in public: "Wearing a mask is literally the easiest and best preventative tool we have right now. It’s a sign of intelligence and compassion. This isn’t about you; this is about the people who aren’t going to be able to recover if they get infected."