Vintage clothing store faces vintage criticism
// Ben Spieler

Vancouver-based vintage store Mintage stirred up controversy with their mid-October Halloween preparations: a small bed drenched in thick red blood. The leftovers of a murdered child, perhaps? Maybe a petite woman? Regardless, this poor soul had been torn apart and left this mortal coil in a bout of terror, their last sight being their own blood sprayed all over the glass surrounding their … shop display?

The display in question depicted a bloodsoaked bed, an axe on the ground and more blood splattered liberally on the windows and walls, but no physical remains.

This caught the ire of Kathy Parsons, who believed the display depicted violence against women. Parsons began protesting the storefront display with a sign that read, “This window display is harmful to our community.”

Parsons picketed outside the store for more than two hours. Evidently she spoke with “around 45 people” who were also offended about the displays’ subject matter, but didn’t necessarily agree that it was promoting violence.

The co-owners of the store, Skylar Stock and Carly Lenarduzzi, disagreed that it was promoting violence and simply thought it was all fun and games in the spirit of Halloween.

The store may have offended a few locals, but it also received support from others in the community. Some even went so far as to stage an antiprotest directly beside Kathy Parson’s protest in an attempt to get her to drop the issue; however, it didn’t work.

The situation seemed to be at a bit of an impasse, with neither side budging, until a few nights later when a group of unknown vandals covered the store windows with pictures of missing women and copious amounts of glue. Many negative comments were scrawled on the walls and the sidewalk.

In a statement to the Metro, Skylar Stock is reported to have said, “I can deal with somebody being upset with the window. If somebody wants to talk to me about it, then that’s fine. But this kind of pushed it a little too far.”

Deciding that it was too much of a risk for his employees and the community, Stock began dismantling the display and cleaning up the vandalized window. According to CNEWS, Stocks said, “As I was cleaning it off [the vandalized display], there were people yelling at me calling me a typical f---ing male.” He says that Mintage stands by their window display, but felt the need to take it down for the safety of their neighbourhood and employees.

Following the clean-up and display dismantling, Mintage posted an apology to the community in their window: “We recognize that some people have been offended and this was certainly not our intention,” the letter reads. “Since putting up the display, we have had many people provide positive comments in the spirit of Halloween, but this act of vandalism takes what was intended in the spirit of Halloween to a whole new level.’

Kathy Parsons says she is thankful the display has been taken down, but adds, “The unfortunate thing is with the letter, the reasoning that they’re saying for taking it down is that they were vandalized, which is a little ludicrous in my opinion.”

Mintage is known for putting up a Halloween display every year, and this isn’t the first time they’ve drawn negative attention from the neighborhood. In 2007, Mintage had a display featuring a hatchet-wielding female mannequin wearing a Michael Myers mask, bound and dismembered female mannequins, a decrepit wheelchair and an old-fashioned meat-grinder filled with limbs and gore. Local residents claimed it was promoting violence against women.

It is normal for vintage shops to have a larger number of female mannequins because they are generally targeted toward women, or at the very least have a wide range of ladies’ clothing.

One can argue that the display from 2007 was depicting violence towards women , but the fact that the killer was also a female mannequin lends more credibility to the idea that they simply had more female mannequins to use. As for the 2011 display, there seems to be very little to support the violence against women angle. If anything, the display depicts a child’s bed covered in blood; no gender suggestions at all.

This still leaves us with the level of realism: was the display too scary for halloween? From the point of view of concerned parents, it was bit over the top; but for many Halloween fans, it was a breath of fresh gore. Perhaps putting a creepy black curtain around the display would have been more suitable. People would have been able to view it at their leisure, or simply go about their day; it might have even added to the eeriness.

It is normal for companies to strive for media attention, and shock value sells. Stock learned how much business their controversial 2007 display pulled in and may have staged a repeat to drum up more business. However, the “violence against women” interpretation of the advertisement doesn’t have much basis, and the attention received was probably just good luck. It seems more likely that the Mintage staff was just enjoying what they were doing, and went a little crazy with the fake blood.

// Ben Spieler, Writer
// Illustration by Arin Ringwald

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