On a recent Friday afternoon, Diana Androsova walked into the Halloween Megastore at NE 61st Street and Biscayne Boulevard. She grabbed a couple of items for her costume and went to the register, where a young man began ringing up her bill. Standing at the register, Androsova decided against buying an exaggerated pair of fake breasts along with the rest of her costume and put them aside.
“I guess you don’t really need them, because you’ve got a nice set of boobs yourself,” the employee told Androsova. “Are they natural?”
Androsova was stunned and embarrassed by the brazen remark about her body. She just wanted to get out of the store as fast as possible. She looked down and avoided making eye contact as he finished ringing up her items.
Then, she recalls, “He set his hands on the counter and said, ‘I’ll give you a discount if you let me feel one.'”
“I was shocked. I just stared at him, and then he said, ‘I’m kidding. I’m kidding.’ I just grabbed my stuff off the counter and left… I felt like my body wasn’t my own when he said that. I felt violated. I could feel his disgusting thoughts.”
Halloween Megastore’s corporate office manager, Al Adams, acknowledges the exchange took place. He says the employee was counseled but claims no further action is warranted. “In this particular case, one of our employees felt that they were trying to up-sell the costume that the person was purchasing,” he says. “They didn’t think the manner in which they spoke was offensive. We explained that it was because nowadays all things can be considered offensive.”
In tears and shaken by what had just happened, Androsova called a friend after stepping out of the store. The friend, who asked to be identified only by her first name, Olivia, was furious and felt protective of her friend. She says she called the store, and someone named Dave picked up. “He was really weird and evasive about it,” she recalls. “He asked how I knew she wasn’t lying and what would I even want him to do about it anyway.”
Olivia says she asked to speak with someone else, but Dave told her that there was no one else she could speak to and that he was the manager. When he hung up on her, Olivia called the Halloween Megastore’s corporate office.
“They were severely unprepared for anything like this and basically said, ‘Boys will be boys,’ and that it must have been a misunderstanding,” Olivia recalls.
Halloween Megastore has 11 locations in Florida and one in Georgia, according to the company’s website. Adams, the corporate office manager, acknowledges the firm has no sexual harassment policy. “We have been developing something,” he explains. “We’re a pop-up store, so a lot of the employees we hire throughout the season are hired pretty quickly and put on the floor.” Adams says a policy will be completed before next Halloween and provided to potential employees before they are hired.
Though women regularly face sexual harassment in public, there are few repercussions for the harassers.
“I would never expect to hear that from someone who was my cashier,” Androsova says. “It’s just really inappropriate.”