Shop owners upset over Trump signs
MILFORD – Eileen Cavallaro once worked for the George H.W. Bush presidential campaign.
The longtime Milford shop owner has nothing against Republicans, but she says the large GOP signs that surround the door to her flower shop are killing her business. She mentioned the Donald Trump sign in particular.
Over a four-day period, she said last week, there hadn’t been a single customer in her shop, The Garden Party, and the only people who came in were looking for the Trump campaign headquarters. There is no Trump headquarters in Milford.
Without the Trump sign, it would be OK, she said.
"He’s the one making people freak out with his words and actions," Cavallaro said.
Asked for comment, Cory Custer, Trump’s New Hampshire campaign director, asked for the problem to be described in an email and said someone would get in touch. No one did.
Cavallaro has run her florist shop in downtown Milford for 15 years, and moved to her current location on the west side of the Oval three years ago. Two years ago, there were political signs on the building’s exterior, but that election didn’t get people as excited. And making things worse, Cavallaro said, is that the signs this year seem bigger and brighter.
"So many people saw them during the Pumpkin Festival," she said.
Cavallaro said that on Facebook, people ask her if she supports Donald Trump.
Cavallaro said about three-quarters of her customers are women, and she said that right after the "Access Hollywood" video recently appeared on the news showing Trump talking about women in demeaning terms, that was when walk-in customers really started disappearing.
Typically, there are about 20 customers a day, said Cavallaro, who said she has lost about $1,000 worth of business and that her products are perishable.
"I don’t sell week-old flowers," she said.
"It’s a little frustrating. … Political campaigns have never been like this before. It’s embarrassing."
Charles David Hair Studio is next to Cavallaro’s shop in the same building. Salon owner Julie Abeels said she has also lost customers because of the political signs, and that she is doing her best to disassociate herself from them, especially the Trump sign.
Abeels said she asked the building’s owner how she is going to pay rent when she’s losing customers.
"The day I noticed the signs, I texted the owner," she said. "They are definitely a nuisance. It looks like I support Trump. … It would have been common courtesy" to notify the tenants first. "This is not a place to put signs," Abeels said. "The election is too volatile."
The salon’s Facebook page says, "We do not support any political propaganda posted on our building," that the signs were posted without the salon’s consent and that it is working to have the signs removed.
"People are not coming," Abeels said. Some clients say they are staying away because there should be no politics in the salon or because they don’t support the candidates, she said.
Both shop owners said building owner Kathy Deware hasn’t returned any of their messages.
Deware didn’t return calls from The Cabinet.
Mark Biggie, chairman of the Milford Republican Committee, said the organization has nothing to do with the signs.
A campaign sign for Executive Councilor David Wheeler is directly above the door of The Garden Party. He said in a phone interview that the business’s problems sound like a landlord-tenant issue. For rental property he owns, he said he has it written into the lease that political signs of his choosing are allowed.
Political signs in Milford must conform to the sign sizes for the particular zoning area. Cavallaro said she took the issue to the town planning office, and that it is looking into whether the Republican signs meet that criteria.