Horrocks drops policy following racial profiling complaint

Kent County

KENTWOOD, Mich. (WOOD) — A Kentwood grocery store has dropped one of its shopper policies following a racial profiling complaint.

DeShawn Gholston says he experienced discrimination at Horrocks Market on Saturday. He told News 8 an employee escorted him to the cashier line because he had more than $50 worth of meat in his cart. Gholston said it was a first in his three years of shopping there.

“Another guy in front of me bought something over the $50 threshold and he didn’t get walked to the front,” Gholston said. “It made me think, ‘Why am I being singled out?'”

DeShawn Gholston said he felt he was profiled by a policy at Horrocks that required him to be escorted to the checkout when he bought a large meat platter. (Aug. 10, 2020)

Gholston expressed his frustration in a video he posted to his Facebook page.

“It was a horrible experience for me,” he said. “It was kind of a slap in the face.”

Shoppers called Gholston’s experience racist on the market’s Facebook page.

In response, a store employee shared a picture of a sign that said it’s store policy to walk shoppers who buy crab and lobster or spend at least $50 on meat to the front. Workers said the sign has been posted for almost a year.

News 8 approached three different shoppers who said they weren’t aware of the policy.

“Nope, never even heard of that,” said one shopper.

“I’ve never seen it,” said another.

Following the backlash from Gholston’s shopping experience, owners decided to cancel the policy.

In a statement to News 8 they wrote in part, “We are deeply saddened that a store policy had the unintended consequence of making a customer feel less than 100% respected and removed said policy. We have reached out to this customer and hope to meet face to face to address his concern.”

Gholston was the catalyst for the change.

“It’s kind of weird to think about,” Gholston said. “I’m happy it happened.”

Gholston said life is all about perspective and understanding. He said the real change happens when others listen.

“That’s the only thing that can help us move forward in the right direction,” he said.

Store owners said the situation was a learning experience for everyone involved and that they are now reviewing all of their policies to ensure every shopper feels safe and welcome while shopping at Horrocks.

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