It was a short-lived storm that erupted last week when reports of knives on sale at a store called Freaky Elegant in Salem reached Jeff Cohen, chairman of the city’s No Place For Hate committee. The concern? The knives included swastikas.
Cohen went into the store to see if the story was true, he located the knives and posted pictures on Facebook.
While store owner Mike Abene told the Journal he would happily take any items that people find disturbing out of the store, his refusal to admit that the items were there in the first place makes this story confusing. “I didn’t deny anything. There’s nothing like that in my store. You were in my store today, did you see anything like that?”
We didn’t, but we came in a day after Cohen posted the story on social media and discussed the matter with the store manager, who challenged us in a hostile way when we asked about the merchandise. “Do you see anything like that in the store?” she asked. The knives had apparently been removed.
Asked if he would like to see the photos taken of the knives in his store so he could comment on them, Abene answered, “Not really. I’m telling you that this stuff isn’t in my store.”
But was it in the store yesterday? “I wasn’t there yesterday, I’m only up that way once a week or so.”
Later in the conversation, Abene seemed to concede that the merchandise had been in the store. “Unfortunately, we’ve brought in a lot of imported stuff from China because the handmade stuff that we focus on doesn’t really sell in Salem, so the knives are just sort of a side thing until I can fill it in with something else. They’re all weird, I try to get the weirdest stuff possible, it’s all skulls and dragons and stuff like that.”
Abene also made excuses for his manager’s surly manner when we visited the store. “I get a lot of creeps coming in the store. There’s a lot of homeless people, I had another store manager who quit because she couldn’t handle the creepy people. So I’ve told her not to take any crap. So she’s very defensive when it comes to people.”