Nova Scotia

Drugstore criticized for keeping black people's hair products behind glass

Some people are decrying a Nova Scotia drugstore's decision to keep several of its hair-care products for black customers under lock and key.

Some people are decrying a Nova Scotia drugstore's decision to keep several of its hair-care products for black customers under lock and key.

When CBC News visited a Shoppers Drug Mart on Tacoma Drive in Dartmouth, it discovered a locked cabinet filled with products popular among black people, including do-rags, clips and extensions.

While some balms and creams for black hair were openly available on an adjacent shelf, customers are required to ask a clerk to unlock the cabinet if they want a closer look or to buy any of the products inside.

Only merchandise aimed at black customers, however, was locked inside the cabinet — a retail practice that some said was insulting.

"It's very degrading, as a black person, to hear that," said Gavin Griffiths, a client at nearby Ebony Hair Salon.

Salon owner Elvera Ross said to lock up some products and not others sends a specific message to customers.

"It's the perception that they have that there's a lot of black people that are shoplifters, [which] they aren't," she said.

"It's just that perception that people have, and it's something that has to change."

The owner of the Shoppers Drug Mart referred questions to the store's head office, where a spokesperson said she was looking into the matter.

Those offended by the retail practice, however, say it's been going on for years.

"We're behind the times, you know? As [U.S. President Barack] Obama said, we need a change. We all should be treated as equal," Ross said.