Today I went to check out an organic store called Supernature (store website). It is located at a condominium called Park House with two flats occupied by the store, side by side. One flat has organic food stuff and the other one has organic cosmetics, supplements and the like.
I entered the cosmetics section and was the only customer at that time. I was initially not bothered by the only lady (definitely south-east Asian and with good English) manning that section not greeting me or acknowledging my presence in the store. Few minutes later, a Caucasian man entered the store. Immediately, the sales girl greeted him, gave him a big smile and asked him if he needed any help. He was standing right behind me and she walked up to him (pretending I was invisible) and told him where things were. The conversation went something like this
Sales girl (a big bright smile) – “Hello sir, Welcome to our store. Are you looking for something in particular?”
Customer (A Caucasian man) – “No, this is my first time here. I am just checking out things.”
S – “Sure, please look around. Here we have the cosmetics by …… brands and here we have the supplements. The organic fruits, vegetable and other food stuff are in the shop next door.”
C – “Sure thanks, that’s what I am looking for. I think I will go there.”
S – “Thank you. Have a good day! Please visit us again.”
I was in the store for more than 30 minutes and never once did the sales girl acknowledge my presence. Another sales lady from the next door section came in twice to stock the shelves and though she was polite to ask me to move out of her way, neither of them acknowledged me as a customer.
Five minutes after the Caucasian guy left the store, another Caucasian lady entered the store and she was greeted very nicely (of course, she is rich just because she is a Caucasian!) and told her where everything was and asked her if she would like some essential oils.
Another local woman entered and she was also greeted well, both when entering and leaving the store.
I left the store, walked by the counter where the lady was and she never said anything at all, whereas she always wished the previous two customers who left before me.
Just to give credit, when I was in the food section, only one guy in the store greeted me as I was browsing the shelves because he was Indian.
Normally sales people not greeting me or ignoring me never bothers me, but it stuck out to me today because of the contrast in behavior towards me just because I did not have white skin or that I was wearing Indian clothes.
- Does not having white skin immediately imply that I cannot afford the products in the store?
- Does it imply that my presence can be ignored?
- Does having dark skin and wearing Indian clothes mean that I am immediately inferior and not worth being greeted?
- Does being Indian mean that you can treat me as invisible while you immediately acknowledge the presence of a Caucasian?
People keep claiming that there is no racism here, it exists but in a very subtle way I have experienced it before in subtle ways but today was definitely not subtle but crystal clear.
About the store, I admit that they have a very good range of organic brands and products hard to find to find elsewhere in the city but today put me off completely. Today was my first visit to the store, after reading about it on vivawoman (vivawoman supernature review).
Will I visit it again? No absolutely not. You can greet only your Caucasian customers while I can get the stuff somewhere else. No thanks.
Racism is rarely definable in quantifiable terms, it is always subtle and it is rarely in your face crystal clear.
My race, skin colour or gender do not mean that I am any less worthy of respect compared to anybody else.
Update: I wrote to the store people and here is the reply I got.
My apologies for the late reply.
I sincerely regret the fact that your first trip to our store has been an unpleasant one, and assure you that at Supernature we respect and treat all our customers equally.
We have regular customers of various ethnicity, including numerous Indian customers that we serve proudly. The service team also comprises of members from diverse ethnic background.
I have spoken to the employee on duty during your visit, and regrettably she does not recall the incident and has assured me that she is sincerely sorry, if she had in anyway made you feel unwelcomed.
I assure you that it was not intentional.
It would be a pleasure for me to invite you to the store again and walk the store with you. I do hope that you will give us another opportunity to be of service to you and eventually become a regular face at Supernature.