SPRING LAKE — An anti-Obama display in a local clothing store’s front window evoked support and outrage from local business owners and residents Monday afternoon.
The display includes an image of President Barack Obama’s head superimposed on the body of a witch doctor above the word “ObamaCare.” It also contains a hat with the letters “F.Y.B.O.”, an acronym for an explicative phrase against Barack Obama, and an Obama doll wearing a long-sleeve shirt that reads “Hoax.” The sign is on display in the left storefront window of Skuby & Co. Lifestyle Clothing at 1210 Third Ave.
“It’s not political, it’s personal,” said Bill Skuby, 66, who has owned the store in the downtown section of Spring Lake since 1999. “We deal with a 1 percent customer; they come in here and shake my hand. My business is through the roof because of this.”
Nancy Pugliese, 63, was outraged when she noticed Skuby’s display Monday morning. She said the issue goes beyond politics and comes down to the display of U.S. presidents, who deserve respect.
“It’s disrespectful to have our president displayed in a costume like that. It’s very offensive,” Pugliese said. “If someone comes here as a visitor and goes by that store, it’s very upsetting to think they’ll see Spring Lakers as racists.”
“Lots of the children here go downtown to display their costumes (on Halloween),” Pugliese said. “That means all of the local children are going downtown and seeing their president displayed that way. That’s really shameful.”
However, Halloween and passing children are the main reasons Skuby built the display, he said.
“Halloween’s huge here; we got 1,500 kids walking past here,” he said. “I couldn’t think of anything scarier than that guy (in the) window.”
Skuby is the father of six adult children, between the ages of 24 and 40.
Skuby said he uses humor to get his points across. However, there is a serious message behind his display.
“I’m mad,” Skuby said. “I want to see a change and I have a right to do this. It’s called the First Amendment.”
Richard Clayton, 64, of Manasquan, agrees Skuby has a right to display what he wants, but does not think it will sway voters.
“As a business community, I don’t think it’s the right thing to do, but he has rights,” said Clayton, a registered Democrat who votes across party lines. “Personally, I would never do anything like that. I would keep that to myself.”
Clayton also owns a small business in Spring Lake, which he did not want named.
While he maintains that the display has boosted business, Skuby said some customers have stopped shopping in his store since the display went up.
“At some point in your life, you (have) to stand up for what you believe in,” he said. “I’m taking a stand.”
The decision to display his dissatisfaction with Obama is something that Harvey Casey supports.
“Skuby’s always been very outspoken, and that’s fine,” said Casey, 75, of Brielle, a retiree. “I’m sure he offends a lot of people, but they know where he stands.”
“It doesn’t bother me at all. It comes in under the first amendment, and he can do whatever he wants with it,” said Casey, who bought an F.Y.B.O. hat for $25 before leaving the store Monday. Skuby said he donates the profits to a local charity that helps disabled veterans, Operation Beachhead.
Similarly, Barbara Labe, who passed the storefront during a chilly, rainy Monday afternoon, did not see much wrong with Skuby’s display.
“I don’t see anything racist here at all,” said Labe, of Hershey, Pa., an employee of the Federal Emergency Management Agency within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. “I just see somebody who has strong political views and I think that’s a great thing in our free country.”
Other local business owners and workers declined to comment on Skuby’s display.
Skuby claims he has voted for both sides of the political fence in the past, including local Democratic politicians. Skuby said he plans to vote for Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney next month.