The owner of HatWRKS in Nashville is apologizing for trying to sell yellow badges shaped like the Star of David to protest political pressure to get the COVID vaccine. But her backpedaling only came after hat makers, including the Stetson brand, announced they would no longer work with the Nashville store.
As a result of the offensive content and opinions shared by HatWRKS in Nashville, Stetson and our distribution partners will cease the sale of all Stetson products. We thank you for your continued support and patience.
— John B. Stetson (@StetsonUSA) May 29, 2021
Stetson was joined by other designers, including Goorin Bros. of Los Angeles.
Due to the recent offensive content shared by Hatwrks in Nashville, Goorin Bros. has ended their distribution with this business effective immediately. Thank you for the continued support.
— Goorin Bros. (@GoorinBros) May 30, 2021
Protesters gathered outside the store on Eighth Avenue South Saturday morning to oppose the use of a symbol that led to the Holocaust, holding a sign that read “No Nazis in Nashville.”
The backlash came swiftly following a now-deleted Friday afternoon post from hatWRKS, announcing the sale of gold stars that read “not vaccinated.” Aside from the $5 stars, the store announced plans for trucker caps.
This store is no stranger to controversy. It has offered “mask-free shopping” through the pandemic. Its social media posts regularly condemn coronavirus restrictions. The store even purchased a billboard to call out “cancel culture.”
“In no way did I intended to trivialize the Star of David or disrespect what happened to millions of people,” owner Gigi Gaskins said in an apology post on Sunday. “My intent was not to exploit or make a profit. My hope was to share my genuine concern and fear.”
Gaskins says she never sold any of the adhesive stars.
But she stands by her pushback against what she considers government overreach in the promotion of COVID vaccines, even though the government has not required anyone to take the shots. But some institutions, like universities and even the military, are beginning to put limits on those who choose not to get vaccinated.
“I was willing to put my business on the line to stand up for the freedoms that we still have in our country,” Gaskins said. “What I didn’t expect was being accused of the very things I was fighting against.”