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Fight over flour bag swastika shuts down antique shop

By DOUG ALDEN
New Hampshire Union Leader

December 06. 2016 9:34PM
This photo posted by Katherine Ferrier shows the swastika on a Lucky Flour sack in a Littleton antique shop. (FACEBOOK)

A northern New Hampshire antiques shop remained closed Tuesday as its owner continued dealing with backlash over her decision to display an early 20th-century flour sack with a swastika logo.

A customer disturbed by the symbol posted her dismay on Facebook, prompting a deluge of responses.

“The hate messages and threats have become unbearable for me,” owner Nicole Guida said in her announcement that Chic & Unique boutique in Littleton would be closed indefinitely.

The threats and anger weren’t directed only at Guida and her shop at 69 Main St. The Bethlehem woman whose Facebook post about seeing the swastika prominently displayed behind the shop counter said she has also been overwhelmed.

Katherine Ferrier said the matter has generated examples of the kind of hatred she was speaking out against when she asked Guida about displaying the flour sack, which she was aware predated the Nazi Party’s adoption of the swastika.

“I guess I’m really shocked at the level of animosity and just venom that has come at me from a lot of people,” Ferrier said Tuesday. “I understand it’s an antique. That’s not what it means right now and that’s not what it means to a lot of people.”

Ferrier noted the swastika’s use in anti-Semitic graffiti and acts of vandalism reported across the country in the month since Donald Trump’s victory in the presidential election.

Ferrier said that was her point when she asked Guida about displaying the sack so prominently in her shop on Nov. 26, “Small Business Saturday.” Guida responded that the swastika on the “Lucky White Flour” burlap sack had nothing to do with the Nazis or any current white supremacist groups. The sack was on display because of its value to collectors as a rare piece of Americana, Guida said.

“This item has absolutely no connection with Nazi Germany or the crimes against humanity they perpetrated. It is an American antique, no more and no less,” Guida wrote in her post Sunday announcing the store would be closed indefinitely.

Guida declined comment when reached by the Union Leader on Tuesday, referring questions to Manchester attorney Kirk Simoneau.

Simoneau said Guida hopes to reopen the store in the next few days.

“It still doesn’t make any sense. This is a woman who isn’t a racist,” Simoneau said. “The stack of posts that she’s received printed out is inches thick. People are saying they’ll never do business with her again.”

Ferrier said she did not intend to label Guida as a racist.

“Hearing Nicole feels so threatened that she can’t go to work, that’s awful. That’s horrifying. I’m sickened to hear it,” Ferrier said.

In an attempt to tone down some of the vitriol, Ferrier said she wrote a letter to the Caledonian Record. She shared a copy with the Union Leader.

“I think we can all learn and grow from this experience. I’d like to see us all do so with a deep understanding that we are inextricably connected to each other, that when any one member of our community is harmed, we all are harmed,” Ferrier wrote. “I’d like to see the conversation continue from here in ways that are constructive and respectful to all.”

Simoneau was not sure what year the sack was made. He said Guida researched the company that produced it — the Federal Milling Company of Lockport, N.Y. — and found that a similar bag had sold for $75. dalden@unionleader.com


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