Golliwog window display in Saffron Walden sparks online row

PUBLISHED: 14:15 13 December 2016 | UPDATED: 14:19 13 December 2016

Mad Hatters Vintage Emporium

Mad Hatters Vintage Emporium

Archant

A Saffron Walden shop has sparked debate after a complaint from a resident about it selling golliwog dolls.

Mad Hatters Vintage Emporium, in the High Street, now appears to have taken the black dolls off the front display after they were described as “racially offensive” by a shopper who spotted them as she walked past.

Prerona Prasad, 36, said her “jaw dropped” when she saw the dolls in the window as part of a Christmas display on Monday (December 5).

Ms Prasad said she contacted the shop to ask for the dolls to be removed but claims she was not allowed to get her point across by the owner.

A Facebook row followed with the shop insisting via the social media network that it is “a vintage shop, selling vintage items”.

The golliwog was invented by author Florence Upton in a series of picture books in the late 19th Century, before it quickly found a commercial market.

Hamleys banned sale of the dolls in 2009, and golliwog images were removed from Black Jack chews and Robertson’s jam jars prior to that.

Ms Prasad said: “I just don’t see how any of this can be seen as acceptable. The golliwog was removed from Robertson’s jars in 2001 and they are racially offensive.

“My friend and I were walking past the shop on Monday and our jaws dropped, we couldn’t believe it. After thinking about it for a few hours, we decided that we would contact the owner to explain how we felt.

“I called her and I told her I would like the dolls removed from her window, but she didn’t let me get a word in.

“I just wanted to explain my reasoning and how offensive my friend and I found the display. The golliwog seems to be slowly making a comeback and it’s not right. I think it’s really insidious.”

Posting on Facebook, the shop owner commented: “It’s really sad that I have to write this but a person has made a vile remark about me having gollies in my window.

“We also had a vile remark when I had a 1940s Remembrance window, saying we were agreeing with wars.

“Perhaps these people don’t realise I’m a vintage shop, selling bygone treasures. Would people want your run-of-the-mill High Street shops like any other High Street?

“I pride myself as being an independent shop and very proud of what I have brought to the town, employing local people and bringing in customers from all over the country.”

The owner added on Facebook that the shop sells seven golliwog dolls a week.

The owner of Mad Hatters Vintage Emporium did not wish to comment on the matter when approached by the Reporter.

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