Shoplifting has become a huge problem for the merchants who own shops on King Street.
Shoplifting has always been an issue, but recently it has gotten much worse and has started greatly affecting these shops and their owners.
Johanna Mohler, an employee at the popular consignment store Anna Banana’s, believes that the store has a good relationship with college students but also said that there is definitely a shoplifting problem.
“I think it feels easier for people [to shoplift] because we do have that consignment store feel,” Mohler said.
Anna Banana’s tailors its style to college students, and offers a 10 percent discount to anyone who is willing to dance for their purchase.
Directly across the street from Anna Banana’s is the widely popular Mast General Store, which has also had issues with shoplifters.
Employee Nicole Akers spoke of a recent issue in which a man garbed himself in approximately $1,300 worth of apparel and walked right out of the store. Employees attempted to stop him from leaving, but he pushed past them and exited the store.
“There are cops here at least once a week,” Akers said. “It’s always been an issue but I think it’s just now being addressed because we have new security cameras.”
Akers believes that just as many non-students and students shoplift, and mentioned a story about an elderly woman who went into the dressing room, exchanged all of her clothes for merchandise and walked out of the store.
However, Jane Keesler, owner of Under the Sun, believes that the majority of her shoplifters are students.
“A lot of merchants are struggling,” Keesler said. “Last night we had one of the tapestries stolen from the back of the store. It’s really hard because I want to be able to trust anyone who walks through the door but I just can’t.”
In fact, shoplifting has become such an issue at Under the Sun that they are considering closing once their contract is up.
These shops are not the only ones that are suffering from shoplifting; many stores on King Street are having similar issues.
This is incredibly disheartening news because many of the merchants cater to the needs of students. Anna Banana’s has their dancing discount, Something Else Gifts has added a section of jewelry and lower-priced items, Dancing Moon has a wall of items that you can pick your price for and many other stores have lower priced items that are extremely great to have access to, especially during the holiday season.
During the busy hours of the day, it is difficult for owners and employees to properly watch over their wares. Luckily, certain precautions such as Mast General’s new security cameras are being put in place.
Some owners stay updated by checking High Country Crime Stoppers, a website that is dedicated to reporting larceny, vandalism, assault
and other various crimes in the Boone area.
Additionally, some merchants receive an email from local law enforcement that includes pictures of people who were caught shoplifting on camera. This allows them to keep a lookout for any potentially repeating offenders.
Shoplifting of any kind is extremely detrimental to the success of these shops, regardless of whether the item taken is worth $5 or $50. Because so many of the store owners try and accommodate the typically low budgets of college students by offering the lowest price possible for an item, they can’t afford to lose any money. Additionally, even though one person stealing a low priced item may not seem like such a big deal, it quickly adds up if many people do it.
Downtown Boone is a fantastic, historical place and should be supported by the community instead of drained by it.
Ella Shepherd is a sophomore journalism major from Winston-Salem, North Carolina. You can follow her on Twitter at @ellakshep.
Photo by: Jeremy Mikkola, Wikimedia Commons