An Alabama grocery store owner is standing firm on his political views — by pulling popular soda and sports drink brands from his shelves. The S&Z Grocery gas station store in Athens, Alabama will no longer sell Pepsi and Gatorade drinks that have a National Football League logo on them in protest of the NFL players who kneel during the national anthem.
On Sunday, store owner Phillip Stewart pulled all PepsiCo bottles with the NFL logo and took to Facebook to explain his stance.
Stewart wrote: “This may cause me to lose some business, but here goes. S&Z supermarket currently will not be selling 20 ounce Pepsi or Diet Pepsi. These two items are currently produced with the NFL logo on them. I refuse to sell the product until the logo is removed. I will not bow down in order to make a dollar as long as the athletes are allowed to bow down and disrespect the flag and country that I love.”
Colin Kaepernick first started the kneeling movement in 2016 and other players have continued the trend, in an effort to bring attention to unjust police brutality.
Stewart will have a bit of a wait until he can return the bottles to his shelves, as the logos will remain on Pepsi and Gatorade bottles until the Super Bowl in 2019.
He told WAFF that he will hold strong on his decision, noting: “I don’t want to support them in any way, because I feel like it’s just wrong. I can’t in good conscious sell the product because it does have the logo on it.”
He added: “I pulled them myself, the customers didn’t know I was doing this. I sold the product that I had that did not have the logo on it. And I told my rep as well as the delivery guy that I did not want those brought into the store because I would not sell them.”
Stewart further explained to WHNT that he’s not opposed to the cause the NFL players are raising attention about but doesn’t agree with kneeling during the national anthem. He explained: “The cause is just. I think there are other ways to deal with it. This has brought attention to it I’m sure there is good that comes from this, I just don’t agree with the tactic.”
He continued: “This helps me sleep at night. I can sleep knowing that I’m not supporting somebody that’s doing something I don’t believe in.”
In addition to not selling the items, Stewart said he won’t watch football after the players protested. He explained to WAAY: “I’m just trying to not really make a statement. I just don’t want to support anything dealing with the NFL. If I see 3 minutes of a game, I feel guilty. I get up and turn the TV off or go outside. I can’t watch it.”
Not everyone who shops in his store is giving Stewart’s actions much thought, with Aaron Bishop, an ex-Marine, telling WAFF: “Do I personally care? No, I don’t. I’ll grab a Pepsi, I’ll hit my Nike golf clubs. That will make some people mad, but I’ve got other things to worry about.”
Another customer, Susan Riggs, supports Stewart, however, saying: “I stand behind S & Z 100%, and I hope other people support him and pull together.”
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