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Petty Bricks, or How NOT to Write a Public Apology

If you aren't up on the drama with Moorhead hobby store Prairie Bricks, be sure to check out my previous post first to look at the screenshots and see how the situation developed. This post is strictly commentary on Prairie Bricks' public apology.

Ol' Tam Tam is at it again! After a mostly quiet weekend, Prairie Bricks finally came back to their Facebook page to post the latest attempt at an apology. No cutesy toy hearts, no promises of gift cards, just a statement about the situation and an attempt to provide...some context? Maybe?


Let's not mince words: it's a terrible attempt at an apology.


And in case you think I'm just picking on them, I'm going to take it apart and show you exactly why it's bad. If you want facts and screenshots, you should check out the previous post on this situation, as this is going to be all commentary. You've been warned.

The comments were initially left open, but it didn't take long for Ol' Tam Tam to realize that not everyone was ready to just forgive and forget. There were two comments, one quite critical, before the comment section was locked down (and the critical comment deleted). I saw the critical comment, but I didn't think to screenshot it before it got deleted, so I'm not going to go into the specific content (because I don't have the image to back it up), but it will not be a surprise to anyone that they are still deleting any criticism they receive.


But let's break down exactly why this apology is so bad...and not really an apology at all. It's more of a no-pology.


[Note: the bold/italic text below was copied from the Prairie Bricks page as I was writing this. Some of the grammatical errors shown in the screenshot above have been corrected, but the content remains the same, so I didn't feel the need to create a new screenshot.]


Prairie Bricks acknowledges and wishes to apologize for our over reaction to the online chat last week.


A promising start! This is the first thing that has sounded even remotely like an apology since this situation started. However, notice what they are acknowledging: their over-reaction to the initial conversation (leading to the ban). Nothing about how they handled anything that came after, not banning people who left critical comments (or even liked negative reviews), not hiding their reviews or deleting negative reviews on Google. Just the over-reaction.


There is more to this event then what the public has been shown, but that does not alter the fact that we overreacted and for that we apologize.


Ugh, this is classic YouTube drama-speak: "Oh, there is so much going on behind the scenes that you just don't know about!" Unless you are going to share this new information (with your own screenshots or other evidence to back it up), then it's not relevant to your apology.


"...and for THAT we apologize." Yep, just that. Not the racist and homophobic memes that Zachary had posted on his Facebook (which have now been deleted - Ol' Tam Tam is teaching him her tweet-n-delete ways!). Nothing about the stories that have emerged about customers being treated poorly, or the way you spoke to Maria and her sister in the comments of your post. Just for the fact that you over-reacted.


This was never about anything more than a bag policy -


Literally NO ONE is upset about a bag policy, including the woman who you banned for her "post of defiance." People are upset about the shitty way you treat your customers, the sketchy shit your owner has posted on his Facebook, and your refusal to take accountability for ANY of it.


the same policy in use at virtually every event center, retail outlet, and more -


Really? Yes, this policy is common at event centers and concert arenas, but "virtually every event center, retail outlet, and more"? I carry a small cross-body with me everywhere, and have for the last 10ish years, and I can count on one hand the number of times I've been asked to leave my bag at the counter. It's not unheard for some stores to have policies against backpacks or large bags, but it rarely applies to the average purse. And of the places that have asked me to leave my bag at the counter, they don't ask me to leave my bag unattended in the car/parking lot. But if they checked bags at the counter, they would have liability for the bags, and they clearly refuse to be responsible for anything.


but unfortunately escalated.


Here is just one of many times where Prairie Bricks is trying to subtly signal that they are the victims. Oh, how unfortunate that this escalated! Well, WHO THE FUCK escalated it, Tam Tam? It was you, running your mouth and treating your customers like garbage. Fuck all the way off with your "unfortunate" escalation.


Prairie Bricks has already made efforts to apologize to the individuals as well and offered a gift card as a token of an apology.


You don't "make efforts" to apologize, you just fucking apologize. You don't make these half-assed posts that don't actually acknowledge the harm done or take responsibility for causing it, and you certainly don't act like offering up some gift card (for a conveniently undisclosed amount) is a way to make the situation right. I've worked retail before. A little gift card or a coupon is a way to shut up an inconvenient distraction, not a true gesture. Not if it's not accompanied by a real, sincere apology.


Hopefully all concerned can allow this to pass.


"We're over this, so why aren't YOU?!" I bet you wish people would just let this go, and forget about the racist and homophobic "jokes" that Zach had posted on his Facebook, or the way that Ol' Tam Tam talks to loyal, paying customers. But you don't get to say that because you're tired of dealing with it that other people have to stop talking about it. Not today, Satan.


Prairie Bricks is proud to employ several people of special needs and abilities and still continue to support those and other worthy causes.


So...do you want a cookie? Employing someone with a disability doesn't somehow exempt you from treating people respectfully. If this is true, it doesn't cancel out any of your behavior, and in fact it deflects away from your behavior, and keeps you from having to take accountability for it.


(And on a snarky side note, what kind of "special abilities" are we talking about? You make it sound like your store is staffed by the X-men. Clearly there weren't any precogs on staff, because you never saw this whole firestorm coming!)


In the meantime, Prairie Bricks will concentrate on our business and employee’s welfare. Thank you.

-Prairie Bricks


Again, victim signaling. "We have to go now, our employees' welfare has been at risk and they are so hurt by this, and we need to take care of them!" I'm going to assume that the apostrophe being where it is is a mistake, and they don't just mean one employee's welfare - though maybe Ol' Tam Tam has gotten the vapors from all the big bad internet bullies?! I'm sure this has been difficult for them, but remember: they are not the victims in this situation! If they are having a rough time, that rough time is a direct result of their actions, and their unwillingness to access responsibility for those actions.

I think I made it pretty clear what I think about the owner and the "CEO" of Prairie Bricks in my last post, and nothing about this pathetic attempt at an apology has swayed me at all from that opinion. Once again, I will say that just because you want to have a business doesn't mean that you are entitled to customers, and I personally will never patronize this or any other business owned or operated by Zachary or Tammy Nienas. They have not in any way taken accountability for how Maria and her son were treated (or in any of the other poor experiences that surfaced during this period of scrutiny) and they have never addressed the racist and homophobic content posted by Zachary.


I'm always criticizing millennials and Gen Zers for demanding apologies that they refuse to accept, so I won't say that I hope they issue a better apology. I'm not their customer, now or ever again, so I'm not the one they need to apologize to. These Prairie Pricks won't see a cent of my money. But if there are people out there who might be willing to give them another chance, I hope they get a better apology than this steaming pile. And Maria and her family are still owed a much better attempt at an apology than whatever this was.

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