STURBRIDGE, MA—A Massachusetts jeweler tried to incorporate a hot topic into his marketing campaign, but it apparently hasn’t gone over so well with everyone.
Garieri Jewelers, located in Sturbridge, has taken heat – including a death threat – over a billboard that references the “take a knee” movement.
The billboard reads “If you’re going to take a knee this season, please have a ring in your hand!”
Scott A. Garieri owns Garieri Jewelers, which is located on Main Street, but the billboard is located on Route 20 in Charlton. Under the saying is a photo of a man kneeling on a football field, clearly proposing to a young woman.
Alexandria O’Brien, Scott’s daughter and store manager, said that Scott’s brother William thought up the idea for the billboard.
“We never debated about it,” she told Patch. “We never intended for it to be controversial and racism never even was a thought into our mind. The thought behind doing it was to acknowledge football season, promote love and engagements.”
Football player Colin Kaepernick initiated the movement of “taking a knee” during the singing of the national anthem to make a statement on police brutality against African Americans. The silent protest has continued to be controversial, picking up steam this week when Kaepernick appeared in an ad for Nike.
“Although Colin K took a knee to protest his beliefs, it didn’t make it right in our eyes,” said Alexandria. “That is what he chose to do and don’t necessarily believe that is what is true to us and what we stand for. We stand for our vets. We are proud to respect the United States. There are other ways to protest and because someone doesn’t share the same beliefs, it does not make them right, wrong or different.”
Alexandria said the business has received a lot of mixed feedback, ranging from support to downright threatening messages.
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“A lot of people love it,” she said. “Marketing agencies have given us an A+. There are some select people that have offered to vomit on or showcases, urinate on our store and even as far as someone telling me to kill myself. It is only a billboard. It’s a piece of paper. If you don’t like it, don’t look.”
She adds that a lot of the negative feedback has come from “afar,” and that those people were not customers and wouldn’t be in the future.
“On the plus side, we did sell a couple diamond engagement rings today!” said Alexandria.
Image submitted by Alexandria O’Brien, used with permission