Store Owners Say Political Signs Bad for Business

October 15, 2012

Play It Again Sports has been doing business in a storefront off Seminole Trail for two years, but the owner says a new neighbor in the shopping center is causing problems for business.

"We've had customers come in and tell us they aren't going to shop here any more because of the signs outside, even though they aren't our signs," said Troy Crews, the owner of Play It Again Sports. "The tenant above us has the right to put those (signs) out there...and we are kind of suffering the consequences because of that."

The second floor of the shopping center is home to campaign headquarters for General John Douglass, the Democrat running for the fifth district Congressional seat. His campaign had this to say about the sign complaints:

"It must be a slow news days to do a story on Douglass's Help Virginia Families signs that have attracted our supporters to surrounding businesses. We encourage others to appeal to all voters by allowing signs on both sides."

But small business owners say it's not about politics, it's about their bottom line. And contrary to Douglass' campaign message, Crews says those signs are definitely not attracting new customers.

"Customers have said they will not shop here as long as the signs are out there and they wont shop here in the future knowing that we, as a shopping center, are supporting that political candidate-even though it's not 'we' as a shopping center, it's one tenant," Crews said.

The landlord of the shopping center has heard similar complaints from other store owners, so a new rule is in place for the building tenants. The Douglass campaign can only put up signs for Douglass, not his party running mates.

The campaign has already taken down large signs in front of the building, with President Barack Obama's name, but say they plan to replace it with a similar size sign with Douglass' name.

Crews says he is just looking forward to the election to be over, and for all the political signs from both parties to come down, so he can get back to business.

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