Last week, ahead of the presidential election, Noah Bers was at Goldberg’s New York Bagels in Pikesville minding his own business and enjoying a meal when he started to feel a little uneasy about his surroundings.
Outside the establishment, a group of six people who were scattered around a white pickup truck decorated with several Donald Trump signs and signs of other Republican candidates gathered to express their support for the controversial GOP nominee.
Bers, a 33-year-old Baltimore resident, was caught off guard after a couple of the Trump enthusiasts, dressed in cardboard masks, made their way inside to voice their opinions in front of patrons.
“It was all really disconcerting,” Bers said, “because they were really aggressive with people. I watched a woman of color leave with her son, and I heard one of the Trump supporters say, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if nobody was on welfare,’ which is a very antagonizing thing to say to a person of color.”
Stanley Drebin, owner of Goldberg’s, said he was unaware of anyone entering the store with Trump masks attempting to intimidate customers. If he had noticed anything like that, Drebin added, he would have told them to remove the headwear as soon as possible to avoid any potential confrontations.
“They were in the parking lot,” Drebin said. “They can do whatever they want there. When I saw them, they were outside the store.”
So it should come as almost no surprise that within a day of the incident, on Oct. 31, longtime customers of Goldberg’s launched a boycott — at least they declared as much on Facebook.
“I used to make bagels that were really great. I’m also broke. I also don’t support Trump,” Nate Yielding wrote on Facebook in response to Bers’ post calling on other others to boycott Goldberg’s. “Maybe this is a good time to start again. What is a reasonable price to charge?”
At the time the masked people supposedly entered the shop, Drebin said he was “in the store, walking around the front, in [his] office in the back and many other places.”
Ruth Goetz, a Pikesville native and one of the six Trump supporters, said her unplanned appearance at the shop was met with some resistance and even hostility. She was simply there to plead her case for Trump, urging Jewish voters to back the business mogul-turned-politician based on his strong pro-Israel stance, among other factors.
Goetz, who also sits on the Baltimore County Republican Central Committee, believes the majority of Jews voted for Trump in the general election despite some of the anti-Semitic rhetoric that has been associated with his campaign.
“We have seen a lot of positive feedback with the Republican ticket, especially Trump,” said Goetz, who campaigned in Pikesville on Nov. 6 with Mark Plaster, the Republican candidate for District 3’s seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. “I just wanted to let people know we were proud supporters of [Trump] and that we are completely behind him.”
For his part, Drebin, a Trump backer, said he has welcomed supporters of both Democratic and Republican candidates to his store in the past and will continue to do so.
In the future, however, Drebin hopes not to see as much hostility as he witnessed this election season.
“There were lots of people who were screaming at [the Trump supporters], cursing them out,” Drebin said. “It wasn’t very nice to me, because they were doing nothing but showing their support.”
Still, some customers such as Bers are not convinced enough was done to maintain a peaceful environment.
Because of that, Bers is unsure if he will ever return to Goldberg’s even though he admits he is a strong proponent of supporting local businesses regardless of a store owner’s political ties.
“It’s tough,” Bers said, “but I don’t think I’m going to be going back [to Goldberg’s] myself. At the end of the day, my primary concern is people need to be able to go out and not feel threatened, especially in the Jewish community.”
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