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New ‘Really British’ store in Muswell Hill branded ‘racist’ by shoppers

PUBLISHED: 05:00 08 December 2016 | UPDATED: 15:34 08 December 2016

Chris Ostwald has defended his 'Really British' shop after numerous complaints.  Photo: Polly Hancock

Chris Ostwald has defended his 'Really British' shop after numerous complaints. Photo: Polly Hancock

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A shopkeeper has defended his novelty gift shop after it has been boycotted by shoppers who branded it ‘pro-Brexit’ and ‘racist’

Chris Ostwald was forced to remove his British flags. Photo: Polly HancockChris Ostwald was forced to remove his British flags. Photo: Polly Hancock

The shop in Muswell Hill caused a storm on social media with owner Chris Ostwald, 54, forced to remove his British flags on the opening day on November 26 because he received so many complaints.

One of the shop assistants, who is Spanish, left after just one day because of all the snide remarks she received.

The shop sells British-themed gifts and homeware. Their products include condiments, such as brown sauce, London underground tea towels and “Muswell Hillbillies” mugs, which references the Kinks album. There are also suffragette aprons and stocking fillers such as old fashioned compasses.

Mr Otswald, 54, told the Ham&High: “The shop is in no way meant to be ‘political’ or ‘pro Brexit’, but we have had a lot of complaints saying it is or we are ‘racist!”

“A guy came in the other day and said, ‘what’s this, a charity shop?’ and we said, ‘no, not at all’, and he said, ‘well it’s racist’, and stormed out.”

Mr Ostwald added: “People have been coming in and just tutting and walking out.”

There have been other comments on Facebook, with one person arguing that the name is not inclusive.

One man wrote on public Facebook group Muswell Hill and Friends: “Chris, while I applaud you setting up a business in Muswell Hill and employing local people I’m curious as to why you decided to call your shop ‘Really British’ (besides the obvious point that you will sell British made goods)?

“Like many people I live in London because of its international nature, and for me personally having a big sign on the Broadway saying ‘Really British’ makes me feel you’re implying that other local businesses in the area are therefore somehow ‘not really British’.

“Some will no doubt say I’m over-sensitive but I can’t help thinking that given the recent divisive referendum and the current political climate you might have chosen a more inclusive name in 2016.”

More than 75 per cent of people in Haringey voted to remain in the EU.

Another person on the group asked: “Do you have to be really British to work in the shop?”

Describing the inspiration behind his shop, Mr Ostwald, who also owns the Crocodile Café across the road, said, “When the idea came to me, it was kind of around Brexit time, and I just thought well now is the time when importing things from Europe is going to cost more money, let’s look to our own resources a bit and buy more things from England, promoting our own products.

“When you go to Sainsbury’s, it’s all about eat Indian, eat Chinese, eat Italian - you have to find the roast dinners somewhere at the back at the bottom shelf, they’ve been pushing continental things for so many years, I feel like we’ve lost our identity.”

There are also critical online reviews including one querying whether his items are Chinese imports, rather than British-made.

But Mr Ostwald said: “We intended the shop to be a celebration of “Englishness” and want to sell things that are ‘quintessentially British’...

“A lot of English designers have things made abroad due to costs of manufacture in the UK, so we think it’s ok to sell them, as we are promoting ‘the British way of life’ if you like, rather than strictly ‘made in the UK.”

6 comments

  • So we're not allowed to celebrate being British now? How is this shop any different to the MANY British-themed souvenir shops in London that tourists flock to? Are we going to boycott the foreign supermarkets that exist in London because they don't sell British products? No. Of course we're not. Those offended by this store are racist towards Britain by not allowing Brits to be proud of their nationality.

    Report this comment

    Amy McLean

    Thursday, December 8, 2016

  • The real racist are the ones (shame on you all) who see racism in "really British" ....and I am not British

    Report this comment

    Hilde Faes

    Thursday, December 8, 2016

  • Middle class snowflakes with not the slightest idea of what real racism is. Ask someone who lived in Mississippi in the 1960's or South Africa during the Apartheid era.

    Report this comment

    imw50

    Thursday, December 8, 2016

  • This country is multicultural and dose not excluded the British couture as some of the far left extremists seem to think. In this new world there is no room for the for the Far right or the far left extremists. This shop is only bearing its culture name as many other shops do.

    Report this comment

    Gary Bennett

    Thursday, December 8, 2016

  • In my area we have Polish food shops some state only Polish people , others refuse to speak English or Welsh. I do not mind I go elsewhere to shop. But he's not racist for god sake, we are British and if people are not happy with that I'd ask why. Tell people to take down our flags because our flag are racist what next no poppies , sorry FIFA your wrong. Truly British and why not.

    Report this comment

    Sid whathisname

    Thursday, December 8, 2016

  • He does not even seem to understand the distinction between British and English. Maybe Meibion Glyndŵr should pay him a visit.

    Report this comment

    MPowell

    Thursday, December 8, 2016

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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