The owner of Atlantic Avenue Orchid & Garden decided to try something different in honor of the upcoming election: During an annual Oktoberfest celebration, customers would be invited to use a slingshot to chuck “TRUMPkins” or “pumpkins in a pantsuit” to cast their vote against presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.
Guy Prevost, who bought the business in February, said he worked with his marketing director to come up with the idea.
But he quickly apologized and canceled the election-themed pumpkin chuck after some people said it was insulting and insensitive.
“We apologize for any offense we may have caused,” Prevost wrote Friday, one day after the mock election idea was featured in a company newsletter. “We intended to host a lighthearted game that kept the election year fun, and in no way meant to take sides or offend either political party.”
Prevost said he was surprised about the negative feedback.
The plan was to glue straw on top of some pumpkins to represent the hair of Trump, the Republican nominee. Workers were going to attach felt “pantsuits” on some pumpkins for Democrat Clinton. Plain pumpkins would represent Bernie Sanders or independent candidates.
Some people mistakenly thought customers would use guns to shoot the pumpkin they don’t want to become president, Prevost said. But the plan all along was to use a big slingshot.
We intended to host a lighthearted game that kept the election year fun, and in no way meant to take sides or offend either political party.
Guy Prevost, owner of Atlantic Avenue Orchid & Garden
After he issued the apology, Prevost said, he heard from people saying they supported the company, and the mock election. Some accused the people who complained about the original idea of being too sensitive.
“Oh my gosh, you guys, you’re so thin-skinned,” some customers said of those who complained, Prevost recalled. “We’re just trying to have a good time.”
The Oktoberfest event, which runs all day Saturday, will feature face painting for kids, a bluegrass band and food and beer trucks. Atlantic Avenue Orchid & Garden is situated on 6 acres in North Raleigh.
Prevost, 46, worked in the banking industry for years before he left his corporate life behind a year ago. He always enjoyed gardening, but he didn’t have much time to devote to it.
“I wanted to focus more on having more fun in my life,” he said.
He said he’s not worried that the brief pumpkin controversy will keep patrons away.
“The lesson learned here is we need to look at things through a different lens,” he said.
Sarah Nagem: 919-829-4635, @sarah_nagem