Save Music Store from Trump Haters
Update 3/23/17 - After submitting a letter to the editor to Crain's Chicago Business, we were interviewed on Fox and Friends Sunday this week. Since then we have been inundated with an outpouring of support, generousity and media attention. We both want to thank all of you who have contributed, or reached out to show your concern for us. It has been truly heart warming and healing after a year of bullying and hate.
We have also received more attention from haters, with hate email, online smearing, crank calls, page trolling, ratings wars and so on. We expected it, and it hasn't had any effect on our convictions to tell our story. Political bullying is not ok.
We are working hard to create a new online business, where we will not be a physical target, and we intend to do something different: We intend to be open about our support of President Trump.
Trying to be private, to "keep politics out of business" did not work for us this year. If we were Hillary supporters, we could proudly have posted "I'm with her" on our front door with no problems. But as a non Democrat, you are expected to stay silent, even GUARD your political views, or any bullying you receive you "brought on yourself". This double standard has reached epic levels and we must now turn the tide, and we hope to use our voices to do that.
I will be thanking each one of our donors personally, please give me some time to catch up. It has been quite a week so far. Thank you all so very much.
Trump supporters and patriots,
Because of our support for Donald Trump, the small business my husband and I own is being targeted, threatened and smeared by a coordinated effort of anti Trump activists. In order to survive we need to relocate, and we are raising funds to get out of Chicago before everything we have worked for is destroyed. We are using this 3-4 month gofundme campaign as one of several ways we are employing to raise and record money earned towards our move, and as a way to chronical the tragic tale of political hate that is destroying our livelihood and share it with others. Here is our story....
I am Suzzanne Monk and with my husband Alexander Duvel own Worlds of Music Chicago, a musical instrument store that sells and services instruments from all over the world. We opened in 2015, after the music shop my husband managed in Chicago for 12 years closed. We raised funds from the local music community and invested our life savings to keep a world music shop open in this town and succeeded in creating Worlds of Music.
From Indian sitars to African djembes to Arabic Ouds and of course violins, band instruments, guitars, not to mention gongs, singing bowls from Tibet, and so on, the variety of world instruments we carry is second to none in the region. We are able to repair and service nearly any acoustic instrument and offer workshops and performances, too. We hosted over 160 events so far in our first 16 months of business. From the day we opened in August 2015, we were proud to be serving Chicago and were doing quite well for a startup. From August till March, we saw constant growth, and were able to proudly cover all our expenses and still have a little left over to live on. With Alexander performing for weddings and events, we were able to get by during our first 7 months, still scrimping and saving, but our business was on the right track.
In March of 2016, everything changed. I attended the Chicago Trump Rally, which as we all know turned into a riot. Little did I know that event would alter my life entirely. In a seemingly innocent Facebook thread, my husband informed a far off friend about the violence I had witnessed at the rally. This comment became a trigger for a very angry anti Trump activist and music blogger in Chicago. Angry that we did not support her version of a "peaceful protest", she began a campaign to use her connections in the local music scene to boycott and ruin our business. Over the past 11 months she has recruited several others in her attacks, organized a petition against us, and is collaborating with other Trump haters. Several others have joined in the attacks including a Chicago Tribune columnist. Using social media and word of mouth, their constant and coordinated effort has destroyed any growth we were experiencing. These lies about us have even turned long time friends and fellow musicians away, because to work or do business with us has or will harm their own reputations. And now, we are receiving physical threats to ourselves and our store.
During the election, we worked very hard to keep our personal politics out of our business, never speaking of the subject in the store. We welcomed all kinds of people from every walk of life and political persuasion, and made every effort to remain publicly apolitical. I personally went so far as to stop talking about my business at all online, so that my growing online support for Trump would not cause issue. After the rally, I knew I was a die hard Trump supporter and wanted to do whatever I could to help Donald Trump become president. I published a Trump supporter survival guide, held one woman Trump rallies, organized counter protests at Chicago Trump Tower to stand against anti Trump groups. I recorded a song, but I am most proud of my podcast on Periscope, Trump Talk US, which had over 150 episodes packed with all the real news a Trump supporter could consume. I spoke out about the Project Veritas videos, and spent every spare minute working to tell the facts about the Clintons and to advocate for our President. All the while, Alexander, front man to our little shop, kept his support of Trump nearly completely silent.
As an open Trump supporter, I avoided regular contact with my business to respect that 'code' of keeping business and politics seperate. But instead of attacking me personally, the local Chicago anti Trump movement attacked my husband, and our business. Every post he made with any mention of Trump was screenshotted and used as social media hate fodder. People from other cities who we did not know joined in coordinated ratings attacks on our FB business page, forcing us to suspend reviews all together. Each week, we find a new online hate smear, or hear a new story from a loyal friend about the now countless individuals involved in destroying our reputation merely because we voted for and support Donald J. Trump.
Due the losses experienced as a result of these attacks, we have been forced to spend assets for operating costs, have had to cut employee hours and will soon have to close our doors as revenues no longer cover expenses. Most recently we have received veiled threats of violence against our business, both online and in a note found tucked on our door stating "I hope nothing happens to your business like a fire or a brick thru the window." (Yes, we reported them to authorities; there is nothing they can do as they aren't "specific threats".)
It has gone too far and we need to get out of Chicago before things get any worse. Recent attacks on Trump supporters in the city only lend to an environment of fear, and I'll admit, we are afraid. We are afraid for the businesses and residents beside us. We are afraid for our friends who have also received hate in their defense of us. We are afraid to see our business and professional reputations destroyed completely.
So we have decided it is time to leave the town my husband was born and raised in, and set down roots in a new city. We have no savings left, and moving a home of 25 years AND a business will cost a LOT of money. We hope we can salvage our business, but at this point we need to get out for our own safety.
When my husband and I attended the inauguration this past week, we knew we wanted to do more to help Mr. Trump make America great again. I have several opportunities available in the DC area now that Trump is in office that could provide us a new start in or around our nation's capital. We are beginning the research to move our business to the region, and have begun to estimate the costs of answering the calling we feel in our hearts to go help drain the swamp.
To move just ourselves and cover basic expenses for 3 months while new jobs are started or our business is opened will cost $20k. To move our music store and recover some of our lost inventory assets, another $30k. Hence our goal of $50,000.
We are hard at work raising that money in EVERY way possible. We are selling personal possessions, liquidating any assets we can, calling in favors, working extra side jobs, anything, ANYTHING that can help us reach our goal. We will be recording all that progress toward our goal here. But we know we cannot reach it without some help from friends. So if you are moved by our story, please donate something to our cause. If you are in need of a musical instrument, please shop our online store at https://reverb.com/shop/worldsofmusicchicago
Every sale gets us closer to our goal too. And of course, if you could, please share our story to others who might also be inspired by it.
If campaigning for Trump taught me anything, it is that the best friends I have ever had are Trump friends. This movement has been a true phenomenon, bringing all walks of patriots together behind our goal to heal America. Many have struggled as we have. Our story is one of many, sadly too common, but hopefully ends with an inspiring conclusion.
We will be posting regular updates, telling more parts of our story, sharing more about our amazing little music store, links to online "yard sales" we will host, and of course progress reports on finding new roots in our new chosen home. This campaign will be ongoing for the next few months as we work towards finding some way out of Chicago and some way towards our future.
I hope you will like and follow our journey, and tell others about us. We know we are not alone in being attacked as Trump supporters, but we hope we can become a story of triumph over hate.
With your help we can. Thank you.
Here are some links to learn more about our shop.
Our Youtube channel
14 This is another lie that I cannot totally blame on Mr. "Journalist". Andy Cohn is a known liar who undercuts his loyal employees whenever possible. In his previous business, Andy's Rentals, he lied to his nearly 15 year manager, a man who had made millions for Mr. Cohn, about selling the business, leaving this loyal employee with a wife and child with special medical needs out of a job in a matter of a few days, with no severance pay or warning to be able to get a new job. When we were told by this same Mr. Cohn he would be closing my husband's branch of the company, Alex began begging Andy to "just give me a bit of warning when you are closing" instead of just leaving him without a job after only a few days notice as he did his other manager. At that time, we spent WEEKS in negotiation with Mr. Cohn in talks to purchase his business, which we felt would be a loss to the community if it closed. He demanded that Alex as manager sort all of the inventory several different times, so that Andy could discuss the "parts" of it he "wanted to sell". By the end of weeks of this kind of intense inventory analysis and negotiation, Andy insisted that any offer would only be accepted if we immediately wrote a check for $250,000 and took all of the complete devalued and old damaged inventory at near market value (Andy did not do proper depreciation on his inventory, as a way to avoid the appearance of losses.) We of course were outraged when after such an extended and involved negotiating process, we were now basically being told that the negotiations were BS and that Mr. Cohn had basically been intentionally leading us on in order to get Alex to stay under his employment and do the ending inventory sort he himself was unwilling to do for his own business. We left that "relationship" with Mr. Cohn on extremely bad terms due to this bad faith negotiation and set off to start a store without his inventory. For Mr. Cohn to say the "store was never for sale" is perhaps correct only in his mind, because he negotiated with us for many weeks under the clear intent of not only selling us the inventory, but us taking over the lease in the location it was in. For Mr. "Journalist" to post Mr. Cohn's lie is not surprising, but certainly isn't good journalism.
Mr. "Journalist" ends his piece with more of his trademark agenda based speculation after telling over a dozen lies in the article he wrote.
There was one part that he did tell the truth on, and I would like to pay respect for this speck of journalism in this sea of agenda. He wrote, "I remember them well for two reasons, the first being that they were two of only three or four Trump supporters at a rally with approximately 1,500 anti-Trump protestors, and because they RESPECTED THE CROWD THAT DID NOT AGREE WITH THEM".
While his numbers of protestors may be high, he is right that I and my husband and a few others have stood up when the other side had hundreds of times our numbers. And that we RESPECT those that we do not agree with.
If only the anti-Trump haters bullying me would do the same, I would have never had to share this story, and I would be looking forward to renewing my business lease and continuing to provide world music to Chicago. Unfortunately the bullies have no respect, whether they are faceless internet attackers, old friends turned hater, or even "journalists".
9. In his article he quotes an employee of a "nearby music store that competes with Worlds of Music" who did not want her name published, “We had some people go there for workshops and felt uncomfortable because of the rhetoric from them, especially Monk,” which is an UTTER lie, because I do not teach or engage in workshops, nor do we engage in political conversation during them or even during store hours (until now). Now maybe he was lied to by this person, who didn't want to be named because she is likely the employee at the Old Town School of Folk Music who was recently bullying us in a comment thread on one of the many hate posts, literally NAMING herself as an employee of Old Town School in her hate comment . It would suck if she gave her name and I had screenshotted it, right? Hence the anonymity needed. Additionally in this lie is that we were in competition with Old Town (a fact that would be bad if they had an employee quoted by name attacking us). In fact we often shared customers and referred each others businesses. This lie is truly packed with fake news.
We actually LOVE the Old Town School of Folk Music and THEY have been great to us, with employees there actually donating to our crowd fund we used to kick start our business in 2015. We are saddened that their employee would risk the reputation of THAT great music shop just to further slander ours.
We actually have had Old Town School guests perform at our shop when Old Town was unable to host them, AT OLD TOWN's REQUEST/SUGGESTION. To suggest otherwise is Lie#9
10. But lets get to Lie #10. I actually break down on the gofundme the things the funds will be used on - moving costs, replacing depleted inventory, transitioning the business to online, as well as 2-3 months of living expenses for our new home while we are getting settled in new jobs and new income streams. I actually broke down the numbers for both moving a brick and mortar store and for moving merely us, and the amount needed to move us and build an online store. He doesn't need to speculate about the use of funds, it's clearly labeled. He also never bothered to ask about what the funds were to be used for, while he was lurking for his "interview" hence this is at least really, really bad "journalism" if not an outright Lie #10
11. He LITERALLY speculates that I lied about being "outed", despite evidence also clearly available on the gofundme about abusive messages I received from my original bully, as well as evidence of the MANY other bullies in screenshots posted. I have a reem of paper full of more of them. I can show you 12 hate letters I received since Sunday's interview. See, this is again the narrative that by being an "out" Trump supporter I "bring the bullying on myself".
How the bullying started is only a fraction of how the bullying escalated and expanded. Yes, I told the story of how it started. But no matter who was the first bully, the countless other bullies after that were what has driven us to this decision. Mr. "Journalist" keeps trying to spin this "brought it on themselves" rhetoric, attempting to shed doubt on hate I have printed and posted evidence of, while validating further hate by focusing only on my patient #0
12. I did not allege a beef with a "nameless former customer" who outed me. The woman who outed me was NEVER a customer of my store, I have never met her in person in my life. And she's not nameless. Her name is Gail Dee, and you can see the hateful response she gave me after I invited her to our opening to "talk out" the hateful rhetoric she had already been posting on her page and threads about me. This is a really big and sad lie, because it's literally clearly shared on the gofundme that I am happy to call out my bullies by name. Unlike Mr. "Journalist" and his sources.
13. I did NOT say the gofundme is a "great way to communicate with customers". If that were the case, wouldn't we have shared the gofundme on our business page, or put a link to it on our website? I did not put one on before the Fox interview, hence the "as seen on Fox and Friends" now posted with the link. I did say it was a great way to communicate with supporters and DETRACTORS without the problems found in FB and other social media. I know, "detractors" and "customers" sound exactly the same. Not.