Businesses targeted on social media
ALPENA — More than two dozen Alpena businesses were called out in a Facebook post because of their perceived political affiliations, social justice viewpoints, or how well they supported masking during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The post, which was making the rounds on social media this week, encourages locals to boycott 24 local businesses and support nearly a dozen other businesses. The News could not immediately confirm who authored the post, and it was not clear how businesses were selected for either list.
Nearly all of the businesses on the list are locally owned. Several of those businesses are in industries impacted the most by government restrictions and the economic downturn during the pandemic — including restaurants, salons, and pet stores.
Shear Envy Salon owner Madison Fishett, whose business was included on the boycott list, said she doesn’t understand how or why she was put on the list, because she doesn’t post her political opinions online.
Although she was shocked anybody would want to boycott her business, Fishett said she has “a pretty good clientele” and doesn’t think it will impact her.
Matter of fact, Fishett said she thinks the list has backfired. She’s had three people come in to support her because of the list.
“People have been just more giving,” she said. “I’ve had people come in and buy gift certificates and product — people that I’ve never seen before.”
Harborside Cycle and Sport also made the boycott list. Owner Tommy Dowd said he didn’t care who generated the list and he was more concerned with the community and all of the small businesses getting along, no matter their opinions on political matters or COVID-19 masks, mandates, or lockdowns.
“Everyone is entitled to an opinion, and I cherish the difference of opinions,” he said. “What bothers me is people deciding and then propagating that certain businesses should not be frequented because of their views on things. I think, especially in these times, it’s going to do nothing but hurt the community as a whole.”
Alpena Downtown Development Authority Executive Director Anne Gentry said she hoped people would see beyond the list and continue to support the businesses they care about.
Gentry said it’s been a difficult and unpredictable year, especially for small businesses, whom Gentry said have faced several hurdles, from being forced to close to walk-in traffic to purchasing extra personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies.
“We’ve been trying to spread the word of, support your favorite small businesses, make sure that you kind of vote with your dollars or what you value and what you want to stay here in our community,” she said. “A lot of them are hurting, a lot of them have had a difficult year, so any support people can offer them is really important.”
Crystal Nelson can be reached at 989-358-5687 or firstname.lastname@example.org.