I wonder if this still happens: There is an IDA store in Sault Ste Marie and I remember that every time I went in there, I would be followed. I know that sounds crazy to say but it’s true.
I would go into this store to sometimes buy beauty supplies or feminine products, whatever. Things that I needed. I even worked in the mall. Reitman’s at the time. So, even when working at Reitman’s I was aware of Loss Prevention techniques. At Reitman’s we had a code word if we thought there was someone in the store who might be considering to shoplift. The code word was “Sam” and if we thought someone might be shoplifting we would tell the rest of the team “Sam is here” or “Sam is coming by soon.” I am sure you get the point. Even considering if someone might be stealing is kind of hard to do because you have to be careful not to offend anyone or the store might be facing a human rights complaint….at least that’s what we were told in loss prevention training. We were told to look for certain types of behaviours or dress. We were told to watch for things like if someone wears a big heavy jacket on a hot day or during a season not generally made for big heavy jackets; or if someone takes a lot of clothing into the change room that are a range of different sizes (and if that happens, we were told to just keep track of the number of clothing pieces being brought in). We were told not to “follow” customers but rather just keep an eye on them or approach them and ask them if they need help looking for anything or to offer to keep the clothing pieces at the counter.
Every time I went into the IDA in Station Mall, I was followed. When it first happened and I first noticed, I was with my family. The store had their employees follow our entire family. My mom noticed and she had us leave the store. We were doing a little experiment. One by one we would go in with her and she would watch the employees. The employees still followed us. My mom noticed that no other customer was being followed. We also happened to be the only Native family in the store at the time. Maybe there was a connection? Being Native in the store?
Anyways, when I did have to go in there by myself, I noticed that I would be followed as well. I was never asked if I needed help or if I needed assistance. In fact, I turned to the employee that was “organizing” the shelf behind me and asked her if she needed any help and then asked why she was following me? She played dumb, left me alone and then sent another employee to follow me. Every time I went to this IDA in the Station Mall in Sault Ste Marie this would happen.
The last time I went to that store I was 20 years old and buying make up. This time the owner was following me. When I got to the counter, I asked to speak to the owner. The same guy who had been following me around the store walked up to me and said “I am the owner.” I asked him why he was following me and why he had employees follow me every time I came in. I told him I worked in the mall as well. He just said that he randomly assigns employees to follow random customers. I told him that if that was random, why did it happen to me all the time? I also told him that he should have better loss prevention techniques or at least ones that didn’t seem so racist or discriminating because I only see that Native customers are the ones being followed. He got offended and angry and yelled at me that I don’t know what I am talking about. I told him in a calm manner, “I do know what I am talking about because I am the one being followed and I see that no non-Native customers are ever followed and that even my Native friends and family members experience the same thing.”
I wonder if this still happens: IDA store in Station Mall employees and owner “following” Native customers.