B. Fuller’s Mortar and Pestle in Fremont has come under fire for their signage regarding face masks.
On Thursday, the “steampunk tea shop and modern herbal apothecary” was visited by Juan Pablo Uribe and his friend, who was wearing a face covering. According to Uribe, his friend experienced “shaming” after walking into the store while wearing a mask. He also shared an image online of a sign that asked patrons to remove their masks upon entry.
The sign read: “It was all a panic, mostly, and we an all admit that we overreacted. we can all take off the masks that we all know don’t do much, and that we’re all wearing just because we think everyone else wants us to and because we want to look like we are doing the “right thing”, even though, again, we all know it’s kind of bullshit. we all see the protesters and folks at the beach not doing it, and gathering in groups, so enough already. There, I said it.”
B Fullers Mortar and Pestle in Fremont, Seattle. Calling masks bullshit and shaming my friend for coming in with one on pic.twitter.com/TqGSeKEcEn
— Juan Pablo Uribe (@juanpaudio) June 26, 2020
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After facing backlash online, B. Fuller’s Mortar and Pestle released a statement through Facebook on Saturday that many commenters are calling weak and irresponsible.
I wanted to reach out and first and foremost apologize for what was a misguided statement posted in the window of the shop last Sunday. The “No Mask” sign in the window was put up as part of a debate about these issues within this business and with our customers- something we have been doing since the onset of COVID-19. I believe in the value of reflection, debate, and inquiry in all matters, especially around such important issues as face our community today. I personally and within my business have been under stress, confused, and wondering as to the correct conduct in these trying times, and the right way forward amidst all of this. I will be the first to admit that I often make mistakes, and hold positions that I later revise based on input, reflection, or fuller information. I wish that I could immediately come to the correct conclusions in all matters, but the fact is that I am fallible and often grope my way forward fairly blindly. I realize now that this position was in fact too confrontational and not in harmony with my community, and has caused anger, confusion and criticism. The night it was put up several customers and myself sat inside and the focus of the conversation was about the sign itself, and it was quite a healthy debate which very much informed my opinion. That evening a passerby came in and asked after the meaning- and I made the mistake of confirming that I preferred there to be no masks in the shop. Instead I should have invited the individual in to discuss it, which is the usual practice of this business, with their mask on for their comfort. Some accounts state that someone in the shop spit on this person. I can state right now that did not happen, or anything like that. It is simply not true. The tone of the interaction was respectful, and no shame or blame or disrespect was intended or I believe conveyed. I am greatly saddened if people felt this, and of course tender my sincere apologies.
In light of the conversation had that night, the interaction with the passerby- and after deep reflection about the proper action, the next day- Monday- I removed the sign from the window. The day after that the Governor mandated the wearing of masks in public. Regardless of the timing of the events- the fact is that the sign was improper, and not a representation of the environment that this company has fostered for the last decade. As a result of this, I have had substantive and helpful conversations with King County Public Health to help us understand the guidelines and ensure that the business is in compliance with those state guidelines and practices- and can say that the company recognizes both the letter of the Governors proclamation and the spirit of the wearing of masks in public. I have also had many informative and useful conversations from concerned customers and members of the community, which have also been of great value and for which I am grateful for. I truly rely on the thoughts, opinions and recommendations of others around me to help me through this trying world. Again, I wish to apologize for this mistake and any confusion or upset it has caused. I sincerely hope that you all will continue to regard B. Fuller’s as a safe place to hold respectful conversation, and enjoy Tea.