Should I Tell a Small Business Owner Why I Don't Patronize Her Anymore?

Updated on August 07, 2013
A.M. asks from Silver Spring, MD
45 answers

There's a wonderful little cafe I've enjoyed 2-3 times a week for the past 6 months minus the last three weeks. It is in the same block as the office where I receive medical treatment roughly every other morning. The treatment gives me a couple hours break from persistent nausea so I am eager to eat and drink as soon as I leave. This cafe has marvelous baked goods, great service, and a very aggressive panhandler stationed by the front door.
I've felt increasingly uncomfortable about the woman's demands for cash. A few times I've offered to buy her food, but she says she's not hungry and needs cigarette money. Once she said she needed bus fare.
Four weeks ago, she was especially unpleasant. Yelling at me as soon as she spots me crossing the street. Calling me names under her breath. The next week, I decided that she'd won and I was going to cede the turf to her.Haven't been back since.
I bumped into the cafe owner today in the parking lot on my way into my appointment. She mentioned having not seen me in a long time. I dodged the question by asking about her baby. She brings her infant son to work.
After a few minutes we parted. All during my appointment, I told myself that I would run the gauntlet to get in the cafe. But afterwards, I spotted the panhandler and lost my nerve.
Should I tell the owner why I don't patronize her anymore?

What can I do next?

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So What Happened?

Thanks to everyone for weighing in. I decided that I would mail the owner a note telling her that I really love the food, but felt intimidated by the woman outside asking for money. And I left it at that, so that she can decide what to do.

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G.B.

answers from Oklahoma City on

It is against the law for this person to be doing this if she doesn't want them to be there. I would have bypassed the business completely and just called the police to report a vagrant acting aggressively towards me to the point where I felt threatened.

I suggest you call her and tell her. She is in the process of losing her business due to this person.

13 moms found this helpful
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D..

answers from Miami on

Why did you dodge her question? It's important that she know this. It's not like you would be telling her that her cafe smells bad or that the bathrooms are dirty. She has a problem outside that front door and she needs to call the police and have the woman removed. You have no idea how much more business she is losing because of this woman.

I guess I just don't get why you are wondering if you should tell her. It's really a no-brainer to me... sorry.

10 moms found this helpful
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J.C.

answers from New York on

You should have absolutely told her. She needs to know that you love her food but hate the beggar outside. And I feel sorry for people like that but sometimes they are unruly and scary.

8 moms found this helpful

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T.S.

answers from San Francisco on

I don't understand, why WOULDN'T you tell her?

16 moms found this helpful
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S.F.

answers from Fargo on

I would absolutely tell her. She will probably be relieved that it's not due to her or her services.

You sweet lady! The turf doesn't belong to the panhandler, especially when she is harassing people. The police need to handle that for the shop owner and you can return to your favorite place.
I'm sorry you are having a rough time physically. Hoping you get long term relief soon!

13 moms found this helpful
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H.W.

answers from Portland on

Heavens yes, tell her. I'm sure it isn't as if she is cool about the panhandler being out there and being so aggressive. If you like this woman (the owner), jot down a note and let her know "I'm already dealing with medical issues and I'm sorry-- I do want to come in, but this panhandler is just too much".

Under typical circumstances, I would encourage you to find that strong "no" within you to address to the panhandler, but seeing that you are already dealing with other significant issues, I do understand why you just don't want to deal with that person. You might, though, consider calling the local mental health crisis team if your area has one and asking them to check in on her. I imagine that if the panhandler kept getting visits from them because she's acting erratically, she might move on.

12 moms found this helpful
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M.B.

answers from Austin on

Since the cafe owner knows you, and has noticed your absence, I would think she would appreciate knowing WHY you aren't there as often.... it isn't that SHE offended you, but that the panhandler was getting more and more aggressive every time you approached her door. The business owner may also be seeing a general drop in business, and may not completely know why.....

Can you ask local police about the panhandler, and how you should also handle it?

11 moms found this helpful
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P.G.

answers from Dallas on

Goodness yes, definitely tell her. She's loosing business and it's not her fault. If she doesn't know that this person is harassing her potential customers, how can she take steps to stop it? Panhandling itself isn't illegal, BUT agressive panhandling COULD be in your city/state.

Honesly, I don't understand why you wouldn't tell a business owner that someone is harassing their customers. That would be the first thing I did when I walked through the cafe doors.

11 moms found this helpful
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C.C.

answers from New York on

Tell her - and remember you can *call* her (call the cafe) if you don't want to go in person.

9 moms found this helpful
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K.F.

answers from Salinas on

You have a responsibility to tell her, she could literally lose her entire business. I can't imagine she's not aware of the woman but she may not realize the extent to which she is harassing her customers.

I can understand how you don't want a confrontation if your health is suffering right now but do not let this mentally unstable (or maybe just mean) person ruin a routine you were enjoying. If I were you I would brave the creep one more time, walk right past her to let the owner know what's up and enjoy a meal. It's likely there are laws against what she's doing. Asking for money is one thing, targeting a business and it's customers daily is another.

9 moms found this helpful

L.M.

answers from Dover on

Absolutely tell her. It sounds like a great business that can be ruined by this continuing.

9 moms found this helpful
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B..

answers from Dallas on

Oh my goodness, YESS!!!

8 moms found this helpful

X.O.

answers from Chicago on

Yes! If it were a Starbucks, I wouldn't care enough to tell anyone about it. But, small businesses have such a tough time as it is. They need to know the reason that people no longer patronize them. Please tell her! What could it hurt? She can't get help to fix the problem if she doesn't know about it to begin with.

8 moms found this helpful

S.T.

answers from Washington DC on

oh, i'd tell her for sure. wouldn't you want to know?
khairete
S.

8 moms found this helpful

T.F.

answers from Dallas on

She is aware of the panhandler isn't she?

I would thing there would be some sort of city code to prevent the panhandler from being there.

Yes, I would let her know because you don't know anything about this panhandler and what if the aggressiveness got worse?

I'd also make sure the local authorities knew about this panhandler and let them know that she is aggressive. If she has some mental illness, you don't know what she is capable of doing.

I can't believe the café owner would allow this on her property without notifying the authorities.

SAFETY is a big issue here. I am very petite and look like a good target for someone like this. It is comical because as soon as they get my "look", they don't even bother to ask... they go away.

Good luck.. Don't chicken out and appear scared of her... that is what she wants. Firmly stand your ground if you are approached again and FIRMLY say NO, LEAVE ME ALONE.

8 moms found this helpful

V.B.

answers from Jacksonville on

Tell her.

You are not in control of what (if anything) she chooses (or is able depending upon the law in your location) to do about it. But she cannot make any decisions in that regard if she is unaware of the reason in the first place.

There are likely others who have stopped patronizing her business as a result, and potentially customers who have never been through the door at all for the same reason. She may not be aware of this. If you make it known to her, then she can examine her options and go from there.

7 moms found this helpful

Y.M.

answers from Iowa City on

Yes, you should. I don't know what, if anything, she can do about the panhandler but she should know that you, and very likely several others, are not comfortable being confronted while entering her establishment.

7 moms found this helpful

T.S.

answers from San Francisco on

Yes, be honest, she should know that that person is driving her customers away! Hopefully there are loitering laws in your town so she can call the police to make that person move along somewhere else.

7 moms found this helpful
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D.F.

answers from St. Louis on

Yes tell her, but not only that call the Police. I'm sure panhandling is illegal and so is harassment. Don't confront the woman doing this she could be off her meds and dangerous. This might be the way for her to get mental help if the police get involved.

7 moms found this helpful

L.A.

answers from Austin on

Of course you should mention it to her..

And by no means should you feel guilty for saying no to any panhandler.

They are asking and your answer is no. You have that right.

Panhandling anywhere, I believe is illegal. I know it is here in town, but we still see them on certain corners and roads. It is just that the police do not have the time or resources to constantly be arresting them.

6 moms found this helpful
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X.Y.

answers from Chicago on

Would you want to know if the tables were turned?

We need to support small businesses.

6 moms found this helpful
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J.K.

answers from Kalamazoo on

Yes, absolutely. They need to get that lady the hell out of there. Call the cops on her yourself if you want. Also never never give those people money! There are plenty of resources for people that want help, anyone panhandling always is doing it to buy drugs or alcohol, always.

Also, I always found saying 'sorry I dont carry cash on me anymore because too many people ask me for money when I come downtown' usually shuts them up.

6 moms found this helpful
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S.H.

answers from Richmond on

I'm glad you are letting her know. It sounds like she is a very nice person and she probably feels sorry for this woman and has let her be not realizing that she is harassing her customers and calling them names under her breath. Best she knows and can make an informed decision about what to do.

6 moms found this helpful
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K.M.

answers from Kansas City on

Absolutely yes, you should tell her.

While I am very sympathetic to the plight of the homeless woman, her aggression may be frightening away other patrons as well. The owner may be able to work with a local homeless shelter to help this woman.

Because you are receiving medical treatment, your job right now is to take care of your health. If eating here makes you feel better, then you have rights, too. You should be able to enter the establishment without fear.

I hope this woman gets the help she needs and I will keep positive thoughts for your health. Please keep us posted!

6 moms found this helpful

C.O.

answers from Washington DC on

Persimmon:

By all means you need to let the store owner know why you are not coming there anymore.

Which place is this? I get up to Silver Spring sometimes and my girlfriend and I would love to stop at someplace other than Starbucks!

If the panhandler is getting aggressive? You know you can call the police, right? Use the non-emergency number and tell them about the vagrant.

I'm all for helping the homeless. However, I have to admit I'm jaded - here in DC - there have been panhandlers that were making millions (yes, millions) off those who wanted to help and thought they were....so I don't give cash. I give gift cards or bring a meal. If they don't like it? Beggars can't be choosers....yes, I've told that to their face...just like the guy I had a problem with in San Francisco in December 2012 - begging outside the Jack and the Box - I gave him a meal. he threw it away. I gave him a gift card the next day - he sold it to another guy for $5 - it was a $10 card...as soon as he got the cash - he ran off and got his fix.

Don't let a beggar/vagrant deter you from going someplace you enjoy. Tell the store owner your problem. If you don't feel comfortable doing that - call the police non-emergency number.

6 moms found this helpful

A.C.

answers from Huntington on

Oh, yes! And at least your complaint is not something that is likely to offend the cafe owner. Even if it was, it sounds like she values your business.
I see no issue with calling the police to report a disturbance- let them know what the panhandler is doing and there is a good chance they will move her along. Or, ignore the panhandler lady the next time you go in- seriously, do not engage, just walk in, and ask to speak with the owner. Let her know how much you love her cafe but that you have had some uncomfortable encounters with the lady out front and her aggressive behavior has caused you to stop coming in. I think she will value your honesty and get the guts to take care of the situation.

5 moms found this helpful
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R.M.

answers from Washington DC on

Tell her, she needs to know. It has probably cost her more business than just yours. She may be so busy inside that she isn't aware of it and she needs to be.

5 moms found this helpful

O.H.

answers from Phoenix on

Yes, you need to tell her. You are likely are not the only one that is not returning because of that. Good luck.

5 moms found this helpful
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J.K.

answers from Sacramento on

Yes, you should. There's a difference between panhandling and harassment. You never know what makes people behave the way that they do, but it doesn't mean that you have to tolerate it and let it keep you from frequenting someplace you enjoy.

5 moms found this helpful

K.C.

answers from Washington DC on

I think you should. She's likely losing other patrons as well and may not know why. Panhandling is currently legal in Montgomery County, unless solicitors block traffic or act aggressively, including making threats, touching someone without consent, following someone who has not given money or asking for money in an intimidating manner. Sounds like this particular panhandler meets the requirements of being illegal, so she can call the police.

http://germantown.patch.com/groups/politics-and-elections...

Also might want to talk with your elected officials, as it looks like there's a bill pending reagarding this issue.

5 moms found this helpful

C.V.

answers from Columbia on

YES! This aggressive panhandler is loitering in front of her cafe and causing her to lose business! She has the right to contact the authorities to ask that the person be removed.

In most places, panhandling is considered to be disturbing the peace. This lady clearly is!

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C.B.

answers from San Francisco on

Absolutely tell her! She may not realize that the panhandler is running off her customers and would probably be grateful to have that bit of information. You may not be the only one staying away and she is probably pulling her hair out trying to figure out what has happened to her customers!

5 moms found this helpful

J.P.

answers from Lakeland on

I would let the owner know and also place a call to the police. I know times are tough for a lot of people but hanging around businesses and being rude is no way to get help.

I see lots of these people here in FL. You would be amazed at the stories they will give you about coming here for vacation and getting stuck with no money. (I would never travel anywhere if I thought I would not have money to be there). I have offered to buy groceries and my neighbor even gave a bag of food and the person got extremely nasty.

Most are drug addicts and/or alcoholics looking for cash to buy more. So sad.

4 moms found this helpful

C.C.

answers from San Francisco on

Yes, you should. If your city has a panhandling ordinance, the business owner can call the police and have the woman removed to a homeless shelter or soup kitchen. The business owner may be losing a lot of business over this. It's hard to feel sorry for someone who is being aggressive, and turning down offers of food.

4 moms found this helpful
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S.B.

answers from Kansas City on

Yes! She obviously values your business, I would let her know why you haven't been in.

4 moms found this helpful
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F.C.

answers from Tampa on

YES Tell her and also I would Call the police and report the panhandler.

4 moms found this helpful

B.C.

answers from Norfolk on

Tell her.
The beggar is adversely affecting her business and more than likely you are not the only one who has been run off.
The business owner needs to have a no solicitation/no loitering policy and should have the police remove her.
In the mean time, ignore the beggar and try to do as you always have done.
If she asks you for anything tell her 'No. Stop bothering me and I'm calling the police" and say it every time she speaks to you.

4 moms found this helpful
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D.D.

answers from Pittsburgh on

Yes. I think you should be honest. If there is something driving away business, the owner of the business should know. If she's driving you away, she's driving away other potential patrons as well.

4 moms found this helpful
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O.O.

answers from Kansas City on

Did you ever see the movie " something about Mary"?
O. of my favorite parts of the movie is the way the main actress just tossed a piece of fruit to a homeless guy near her apartment every morning as she says hello.
There's no bargaining, no bartering, no demanding, no judgment.
She knows he's homeless she doesn't want to give money so she gives him something useful everyday.
From a marketing standpoint, people will normally just go somewhere else for goods or services so you'd be doing her favor by letting her know why you're not coming if you're going to stop patronizing her cafe.
It might be time to think outside the box!
Good luck!

3 moms found this helpful
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M.H.

answers from Chicago on

Yes, tell her. Perhaps a call to the police can help. Not sure what the laws are but if they see this individual being rude, they might be able to mover her along to a new location.

3 moms found this helpful
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A.J.

answers from Indianapolis on

I would tell her, I know she loves her business and wants it to succeed. If this person is bothering you, no telling how many other people she is running away. Maybe she will take care of the problem and give you a chance to go back to enjoying the cafe as you used too.

3 moms found this helpful

K.M.

answers from Chicago on

Personally, I would. She may not understand what is going on, she may also be loosing others the same way.

2 moms found this helpful

D.S.

answers from Norfolk on

Hi, Persimmon:

This woman is disturbing the peace. Your first response would have been to call the police.

In our City, we do not allow panhandlers on the street or in shopping centers.
When someone approached me in a shopping center asking for money.
I told her that it was against the law to ask for money in our city.

She left the shopping center.
The first thing you needed to do when you were asked the first time for money, was to tell her that you are calling the police if she doesn't stop asking you for money.
It is your responsibility to take care of yourself first.
Then your second responsibility was to ask to speak to the manager when you got into the store the first time the incident occurred.
You need to go back to the store. Have the non emergency police department number in your cell phone.
If the woman is there and starts to give you a hard time. Tell her: I am calling the police because I am being harassed by you in public. Then call the police. In every city there are policemen assigned to different areas of the city. Call your police department and find out the name of the officer who does the work of the area you speak about.
Tell him your situation.

Don't let people bully you.
Take a stand right away.
People do not have a right to stand on the street asking passersby for money.
Good luck.
D.

2 moms found this helpful

D.S.

answers from Norfolk on

Hi, Persimmon:

This woman is disturbing the peace. Your first response would have been to call the police.

In our City, we do not allow panhandlers on the street or in shopping centers.
When someone approached me in a shopping center asking for money.
I told her that it was against the law to ask for money in our city.

She left the shopping center.
The first thing you needed to do when you were asked the first time for money, was to tell her that you are calling the police if she doesn't stop asking you for money.
It is your responsibility to take care of yourself first.
Then your second responsibility was to ask to speak to the manager when you got into the store the first time the incident occurred.
You need to go back to the store. Have the non emergency police department number in your cell phone.
If the woman is there and starts to give you a hard time. Tell her: I am calling the police because I am being harassed by you in public. Then call the police. In every city there are policemen assigned to different areas of the city. Call your police department and find out the name of the officer who does the work of the area you speak about.
Tell him your situation.

Don't let people bully you.
Take a stand right away.
People do not have a right to stand on the street asking passersby for money.
Good luck.
D.

1 mom found this helpful

J.S.

answers from Hartford on

I think that letting her know is a good idea, but have you considered contacting Social Services? There might actually be a program that can help her if she's willing to accept help. She might not be mentally ill, as only about 20% of the nation's homeless are actually mentally ill. More than 40% are disabled. Around 17-20% of the general adult population are homeless.

http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/states/maryland/...

http://www.nationalhomeless.org/factsheets/Mental_Illness...

MARYLAND
St. Vincent de Paul of Baltimore
Beans & Bread
402 S. Bond St.
Baltimore, MD 21231
Tel: ###-###-####
Fax: ###-###-####
Website: http://www.vincentbaltimore.org/

National Clearinghouse on Families & Youth
PO Box 13505
Silver Spring, MD 20911-3505
Tel: ###-###-####
Fax: ###-###-####
Email: [email protected]____.com
Website: www.ncfy.acf.hhs.gov

1 mom found this helpful
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