Bed Bath & Beyond Pull Black Jack-O-Lanterns Off Shelves Over ‘Blackface’ Complaints: Report

October 24, 2019 Updated: October 24, 2019

Bed Bath & Beyond is apparently no longer selling jack-o-lanterns painted black after a law office in Nyack, New York, received complaints from locals, who claimed the pumpkins appeared to be in “blackface.”

Local news outlet News12 posted a photo of the jack-o-lanterns and reported that the Feerick, Nugent, MacCartney Law Offices removed them about two days after they were placed on the porch.

“We understand that someone complained about them and so once we got word of that we immediately took them down,” Mary Marzolla, a partner at the law firm, said in the report.

The pumpkins had the name of each partner on them, she said.

The Bed Bath & Beyond website shows jack-o-lanterns for sale (The Bed Bath & Beyond website)

“We represent people of all colors and faiths, and we would never do anything to exclude anyone from any community,” Marzolla told the station.

When contacted about the product, Bed Bath & Beyond said that it “immediately removed” the pumpkins. It’s not clear if the pumpkins were removed from Bed Bath & Beyond locations around the United States, or just the local Nyack store.  “This is a sensitive area and, though unintentional, we apologize for any offense caused,” the spokeswoman said, according to the New York Post.

“We purchased these Jack-0′-Lanterns from Bed Bath and Beyond specifically for the purpose of including them in our holiday display and took them down immediately upon hearing the concerns raised,” Marzolla told CBS News. “We are a community law firm, work for the local community and have championed the cause for many people who suffered improper treatment by others.”

The interior entrance of a Bed Bath & Beyond
The interior entrance of a Bed Bath & Beyond store is shown in New York City on Jun. 27, 2003. (Chris Hondros/Getty Images)

Her associate, Alak Shah, issued a similar statement to the New York Post.

“It’s just nothing I take offense to personally, but since it did offend someone we took proactive steps to take it down,” said Shah.

The move drew ire from the local National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) chapter, which appeared to precipitate the move.

Stores Closing

Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. recently said that it is increasing the number of stores it expects to shutter in the coming fiscal year.

Interim CEO Mary Winston said during a call that the retailer, which operates Buybuy Baby, Harmon Face Values, and World Market, that some 60 stores will be shuttered. Earlier this year, the company said it would close 40 of its stores.

The closings are expected until after the coming holiday season is over, Winston said during the call, reported USA Today. The firm’s fiscal year usually ends in early March.

Bed Bath And Beyond
Retailers Bed Bath & Beyond and World Market in Chicago, Illi. on May 9, 2012. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Winston said that 40 of the closures will encompass Bed Bath & Beyond stores and 20 stores from its other brands.

“With this action we are increasing the profitability of our remaining portfolio and believe that our remaining fleet will benefit from our renewed focus on driving traffic and operating efficiency,” Winston said.

Bed Bath & Beyond’s stock, over the past two years, and same-store sales have both dropped significantly, CNN reported. Over five years, its stock has lost 85 percent of its value.

Winston also said during the call that there are plans to renegotiate all leases, adding that “$350 million of inventory at retail will be removed from stores before the 2019 holiday season.”

According to a profile, the New Jersey-based chain was founded in 1971 and currently has about 60,000 employees.