EAST MEADOW, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — St. Patrick’s Day is less than three weeks away, and businesses are hoping to see lots of green. But a Long Island man says retailers are cashing in on a stereotype.
For the second year in a row, Kevin Westley of East Meadow has bought hundreds of dollars’ worth of St. Patrick’s Day T-shirts from the local Walmart, in hopes of removing from store shelves a symbol that he says is offensive.
“Here’s one of the shirts I got from Walmart — ‘St. Patrick’s Day’ and there’s a big keg of beer there,” Westley told CBS2’s Emily Smith on Thursday.
“It says ‘beer me,’ again. Well, this time they have a shamrock and four-leaf clovers. To me, this implies St. Patrick’s Day is all about drinking and the Irish culture is all about drinking.”
The 66-year-old retiree said he’s proud of his Irish heritage, pointing to awards he’s won for teaching Irish song and dance. Now, on his Facebook page he’s calling for others to do what he’s done –buy up the party-themed T-shirts before St. Patrick’s Day.
“Leave them in the trunk of your car and then on March the 18th bring them back to Walmart and get a refund,” Westley said.
Westley acknowledged that not all of his friends agree with is stance.
“Unfortunately, about a third of it was ‘You need to get a life. You really need to get a sense of humor,’” Westley said.
Smith to a survey of Walmart customers and it showed the same divide.
“Uh, yeah, don’t pick on the Irish,” one person said.
“People make fun of everybody. You just have to take it in stride and just go on,” another said.
The manager of the East Meadow store would not comment and CBS2 was not allowed in with cameras, but Smith did see the store had already re-stocked the same T-shirts.
Westley said he’ll be returning for a refund on the day after St. Patrick’s Day, Smith reported.
A national Walmart spokesperson told Smith that millions of customers want choices and the retailer traditionally offers novelty items for St. Patrick’s Day.