Spar sale causes riot

ROB KNOWLES

PORT Alfred police and the K9 unit were called in to control an unruly crowd outside the Campbell Street Spar on Friday when word spread about a “closing-down sale” at the store.

By 9am a crowd had gathered and angry shoppers claimed only a select few were being allowed into the store.

The Spar is currently up for sale, and owner Justin Arthur was in Port Elizabeth on business when the problem arose.

MAD RUSH: A near riot occurred on Friday
morning when staff at the Spar in Campbell Street accidentally announced a
closing-down sale with all items at half price. Police and the K9 unit were
called in to control the crowd and the store was closed until further notice
Picture: ROB KNOWLES

Initially, Arthur had assessed the perishable stock in the shop and calculated the items that needed to be sold first.

“I set out a plan, starting with apples, as to which items should be discounted,” said Arthur. “However, the message was misunderstood and communicated to the customers as a closing-down sale where everything was available as ‘buy one, get one free’. It got out of hand.”

Customers at the store spread the news that a closing-down sale was happening, encouraging many locals to gather at the store to take advantage of the offer. Staff eventually closed the doors and the shoppers left outside complained bitterly and tried to get inside. Police, together with the K9 dog unit, and MultiSecurity responded to take control of the situation.

As the lucky few who were inside took advantage of the mis-communicated special (Spar honoured the special for those already in the store), outside police and dogs kept the crowd away from the doors.

Several customers leaving the store carrying full bags of groceries were startled by the dogs’ aggression. Others expressed their disappointment that the doors were shut, saying the owner and staff at the Spar were being selective as to who they allowed in to benefit from the unanticipated bargains on offer.

“We shop here all the time,” said Phumeza Hem. “Today our money is too black.”

“They are only letting the whites and coloureds into the store,” said Pretty Sam.

However, TotT observed people of all races carrying groceries out of the store.

Arthur was stung by the comments.

“Everyone who knows me knows I am not like that,” he said.

The Spar was closed on Friday and will remain closed until the new owners take over the store. Arthur anticipates this will happen shortly.

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