A Tennessee hat store that drew ire for selling “Not Vaccinated” badges modeled after the yellow stars Jews were forced to wear by Nazis apologized late Saturday — amid protests, threats of a boycott and the loss of at least one business partner.
“In NO WAY did I intend to trivialize the Star of David or disrespect what happened to millions of people,” read the unsigned apology post on the Instagram page of hatWRKS in Nashville.
“My hope was to share my genuine concern & fear and to do all that I can to make sure nothing like that ever happens again.
“I sincerely apologize for any insensitivity.”
The shop, run by haberdasher Gigi Gaskins, sparked outrage online after it advertised the $5 anti-vax badges, modeled on the stars used to identify, segregate and demean Jewish people in Nazi-occupied Europe.
HatWRKS also came under fire for comparing COVID-19 vaccine passports to the Nazi practice of demanding Jews show “your papers,” and promoting a false conspiracy theory that claims vaccines contain microchips on its Instagram page.
Amid backlash, one of its partners, the John B Stetson Company, announced on Saturday night that it would be cutting off sales of its products to the store.
“As a result of the offensive content and opinions shared by HatWRKS in Nashville, Stetson and our distribution partners will cease the sale of all Stetson products,” the company wrote on Twitter.
Another mad hatter, Goorin Bros, said it was “horrified” by the item.
“Goorin Bros is horrified by the display and selling of the Jewish badge by HatWRKS, a store in Nashville Tennessee, that sells some of our hats,” the company’s Instagram statement read.
“To make a mockery of the Holocaust in any form is unacceptable and completely insensitive. We are looking at all options to fix and address this unfortunate circumstance.”
Earlier on Saturday, protestors had rallied in front of the shop, holding up signs that said “No Nazis in Nashville!,” according to local outlet WKRN.
Before it apologized, hatWRKS had replaced the Instagram post showing off the badge on its account with an unsigned statement that said: “[P]eople are so outraged by my post … but are you outraged with the tyranny the world is experiencing?”
“[I]f you don’t understand what is happening, that is on you, not me. [I] pay much more respect to history by standing up with the fallen than offering silence & compliance,” the statement said. “[T]hat is the worse [sic] crime. [I]t was then & is now. [I] will delete your disgust and hope you put it where it belongs.”