Minutes away from campus, Produce Express-o, a newly-opened grocery store features the same facilities and products at competitive prices. What makes it different from its competitors you ask? No rules and regulations.
The owner of the store, Jane Doe, opened the store to make it easier for anti-maskers to shop with like-minded individuals. “We really value freedom of expression over anything else,” she said. “The goal here is to create a safe space for anti-maskers to shop without judgment.”
Doe draws inspiration from her friends, who have faced significant problems while trying to shop in stores. “My friend, Karen, believes that masks go against her values of self-expression,” she said. “But whenever she tries to take her mask off, there are employees hovering around like vultures, waiting to tell her to put on her mask or leave the store.”
“It all makes for an unequivocally subpar shopping experience for everyone, not just her.”
Doe believes that in general stores, employees’ aggressive behavior stem from the guidelines that they are expected to follow.
“They can’t bear to see someone else break the rules when they are not allowed to do so themselves. It is about equating punishment for them.”
To pursue equality in the store, Doe decided to lift restrictions for customers as well as employees. “Like I said, we really do support freedom of expression for everyone. If customers can break the rules, employees should be able to do so as well.”
Employees can choose whether they want to wash their hands after using the bathroom, according to Doe. They are also free to avoid helping customers as they see fit, give themselves tips from customers’ credit cards as they see fit, and of course, remove their masks whenever they want.
“We see employees working without masks all the time,” Doe said. “Some of them don’t wash their hands after using the restroom, and others don’t wipe carts for customers. One of our employees walked past an older customer who was asking for help the other day and gave themselves a 45% tip for their excellent service during checkout. We can’t really enforce these rules because it would go against our core value of freedom of expression.”
For those pursuing a shopping experience that values their freedom, Produce Express-o is currently their only choice, though Doe hopes to open a franchise sometime in the near future for all those feeling restricted by a mask. In the meantime, there are a variety of alternatives to shopping here. Well, specifically one:
Wear a mask.