‘White only’ signs sold at Colorado antique store called racist

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(NBC) – A Colorado woman is calling out the owner of an antique store for selling items she said are racist and offensive.

In a section of Antique Corral in Cortez, near the Utah border, are three signs that read: “Public swimming pool white only,” “We serve colored carry out only” and “Colored seated in rear.”

Nicola Shanks, who posted the photos to her Facebook page, told NBC News that she first noticed the items in the store about eight months ago while visiting Cortez.

Shanks said she expressed her concerns over the signs to an employee and asked to speak with the owner, Cheryl Dean, to request the merchandise be removed, but she was told that Dean was not available.

After multiple attempts to reach Dean were unsuccessful, Shanks went back to the store on Tuesday and saw that the items were still on display.

When she learned that Dean was working that day, Shanks said she confronted her and asked her to remove the “extremely racist” signs, and other offensive merchandise including mammy figurines.

But she said Dean refused. In her Facebook post, Shanks said Dean told her “to go back to England if I didn’t like it here.”

Dean told NBC News on Saturday that she has been selling the signs in her store on and off for the last 15 years, and has never received a complaint about them until now.

“They have been in my store off and on. It’s not like I go and hunt these signs down,” she said. “One person in 15 years complains, and it goes viral.”

She said she doesn’t understand why the signs would be considered controversial.

“It’s part of history. And if you ignore history, you repeat it,” Dean said. “I don’t see a problem with them.”

The store owner said that since the Facebook post, she has had threats to burn her shop down and has been labeled a racist. She said she sold out of the signs earlier this week due to all of the publicity and does not plan to to purchase any more for her store.

Shanks said she does not condone violence.

She told NBC News that she has a young daughter who is African American and that the signs represent a painful part of our country’s history, when racial segregation was legal and common. She said the items belong in a museum, not on a store shelf.

“We don’t need to profit off of replica Jim Crow-era signs,” she told NBC News.

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