Home Hardware is dealing with online backlash after one of its independent owners in Toronto posted a controversial message on the store’s exterior sign.
The controversy arose after Pollocks Home Hardware in the city’s Roncesvalles Village neighbourhood posted a message reading “All lives matter. Be safe. Be kind” Pictures of the sign were shared to social media, with one poster writing “How has this not been addressed?”
The posts were met with a predictably harsh response, with some commenters pledging to boycott the store again and directing people to other nearby hardware stores.
Len McAuley, who owns the store, issued an apology via Instagram that read in part: “This was done in ignorance, not in malice. I take full responsibility for my mistake, and I am striving to do better, by listening… and learning.” The post was accompanied by an image of a blank sign.
McAuley also said that he was “taking a pause” from the business, with Home Hardware telling The Message that he had also voluntarily enlisted the services of a diversity consultant.
“[McAuley] recognizes that the slogan he shared has been used to dismiss the important conversations about systemic racism, and that, he may have made Black, Indigenous and other people of colour feel unsafe,” said Home Hardware in its statement.
McAuley’s store is one of more than 1,000 independently owned and operated Home Hardware stores across Canada.
Home Hardware said that the diversity consultant will provide “further education and coaching” on this important topic.
“Although learning and listening about this topic is something that is critical to [Home Hardware], Len had initiated this for himself,” a Home Hardware spokesperson told The Message. “He is truly sorry for his actions and takes full responsibility for his mistake, and is actively striving to do better by listening and learning.”
The company said that it has communicated with its more than 1,000 dealers on the “important conversations about systemic racism,” although it didn’t provide specific details.
McAuley has also resigned from his post as chair of the Roncesvalles Village BIA, which posted a lengthy “Message to the Community on Anti-Black Racism” to its website on Thursday.