Thursday , April 18 2024

Black father ‘is refused to buy paint for his four-year-old son’s art project by Hobbycraft staff because they assumed he would use it to GRAFFITI’

A black father claims he was refused service at an arts and crafts store when buying paint for his son because staff allegedly assumed he would undertake an ‘incidence of graffiti’ — but the store says it was because he could not provide ID for an age related product.

Louis Gray, from Cardiff, alleges he was refused service at his local Hobbycraft store on Saturday when trying to buy spray paint with his four-year-old son so that he could have a bike helmet in ‘a new colour to be like his idol’.

Mr Gray alleges he was surrounded by three members of staff — one who was apparently ‘wearing a bodycam to record the transaction’ and one who ‘waved his hands in the air’ to apparently signal more staff.

Commenting on the incident, he said: ‘I did not raise my voice once, I just wore my blackness.’

In an email to Mr Gray, Hobbycraft apologised for his ‘recent experience’ and said the reason why he was refused service was because he could not provide ID for an age restricted product. 

A stock image of a Hobbycraft store

A stock image of a Hobbycraft store 

Mr Gray added: ‘I was buying spray paint, to ironically spray my 4-year-old’s bike helmet a new colour to be like his idol. You need to be 16 to buy spray paint in the UK, 16! Cool I accept that, but that’s in place to stop ‘incidences of graffiti’, in my opinion very different to gambling and alcohol.’

Mr Gray believes he was ‘racially profiled’ by staff at the store and refused service based on the colour of his skin and because he was wearing a ‘Nike tracksuit and Yeezys’. 

He said: ‘It was the first time I have experienced racial profiling in front of my child. It’s something I always thought I could protect him from, however today, it was stolen from me. I was judged in front of him, I had to stay strong and keep my head up in the face of adversity.’

In an email to Mr Gray, Hobbycraft said: ‘We would once again like to apologise for your recent experience in our store, we have a zero tolerance approach to racism here at Hobbycraft and this is not how we want any of our customers to feel. As an employer we are dedicated to creating an inclusive environment for our colleagues and customers, and therefore take your feedback very seriously.

An email from Hobbycraft sent to Mr Gray stating the reason why he was refused service was because he could not provide ID for an age restricted product

An email from Hobbycraft sent to Mr Gray stating the reason why he was refused service was because he could not provide ID for an age restricted product  

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‘We are continuing to investigate this with our Newport store team. Your situation involved the purchase of an age restricted product which requires age verification, meaning all colleagues are trained to ask for ID should they believe the customer is under the age of 25. As you were unable to share ID with our colleagues, they were unfortunately unable to authorise the sale.

‘Like many other retailers we support the “Challenge 25 Policy” this is a requirement for all customers who could look under 25.

‘All of our colleagues are required to complete diversity focused training, to ensure fair treatment of both customers and other colleagues and we want to reiterate again how seriously we’re taking this.’ 

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