Restrictions on students shopping at the Dollar Tree store in Lakewood Mall were lifted Thursday after a Lodi High School student questioned the store’s policy.
Grant Goehring, 17, wrote a letter to the editor of the News-Sentinel about a sign on the store’s front door stating no more than two students were allowed inside at one time.
“The supposed logic behind the policy is to prevent teenagers from entering the store and stealing goods. There are two distinct problems with this policy,” he wrote. “First, it profiles a certain demographic that is vulnerable. Second, it perpetuates the misrepresentation of youths in our community.”
Goehring is a senior at Lodi High School and a member of the Speech and Debate team. He sees it as discriminatory to limit students when they haven’t done anything wrong.
The teen noted that his fellow students didn’t complain. Instead, they stood outside and accepted what he considered discrimination.
“As students, we don’t have a lot of legal rights,” he said. “I understand there are problems with our age group, but I know good teenagers, too.”
When a News-Sentinel reporter contacted the Dollar Tree corporate office, they said restricting students is not their company policy in any way.
“If you go to that store right now, it’s been removed,” said Tim Reid, Dollar Tree media representative. Reid said local management put up the sign and didn’t think it would be wrong to do so.
It was a simple white page with the Dollar Tree logo telling shoppers that only two students can come in at a time. Once inside, students are asked to leave their backpacks in a space by the door. It has been present for at least two years, Goehring believes.
He was pleased to hear the sign had been taken down.
“That’s really great,” he said. “As long as they’re not implementing the policy any more, that’s great.”
Goehring guessed the sign might have been put up in response to theft. But store staff did not respond to questions about the sign’s origins.
Lt. Dave Griffin of the Lodi Police Department confirmed there have been three thefts reported at the store’s address since January 2012, but they were a bike and two wallets stolen outside of the store.
Goehring’s goal was to simply have the sign removed so students can come into the store without problems.
“I don’t want anything crazy. Just realize we teenagers are all the same as any other customer,” he said.
Contact reporter Sara Jane Pohlman at firstname.lastname@example.org.