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    This Woman Says She Had A "Shockingly Racist Experience" At Aritzia

    Update: Aritizia has promised to review its policies.

    A woman says she had a "shockingly racist experience" while shopping for a coat at an Aritzia store in downtown Toronto last week.

    Courtesy of Samantha Grant

    Samantha Grant, 26, was in the Canadian chain's location on Queen Street West when she asked an employee for help finding a coat in another size. The employee went to check, and that's when Grant said she overheard them talking about her with another staff member.

    "She basically said, '[I] don't know why I’m helping her; she probably couldn’t afford the coat anyway because she’s black,'" Grant told BuzzFeed Canada.

    "My eyes welled up and I immediately left the store," she said. "I couldn’t believe it and I was just going to cry if I stayed in the store."

    She ended up walking home in tears.

    Grant immediately sent Aritzia headquarters an email about the incident, but days went by without a reply. On Monday, she started tweeting.

    I had a shockingly racist experience at the Queen Street @ARITZIA last week and am still waiting for them to get back to me about it.

    .@ACarterglobal @briames @ARITZIA because I was black (2/2)

    Within 30 minutes, she had a response to her original email. The customer care representative said she was "incredibly sorry" to hear about Grant's experience and that her complaint had been "escalated."

    Thanks for all your tweets! @ARITZIA has responded. Let's see what happens next.

    "I was really pleased when they actually responded, but I just don’t think that should have taken as long as it did," said Grant, who is a public affairs professional herself.

    On Wednesday, Grant received a "very sweet" follow-up call with another apology from a customer care representative named Sean.

    He said Aritzia had flown in an executive to address the situation at the store and that they're working on training sessions for staff.

    "I really hope that something happens from this and it can really change their employee culture," Grant said.

    Courtesy of Samantha Grant

    She said she's pleased Aritzia has said they're taking action, but she'll be "happy when I actually see something more tangible come out of this."

    "I don’t want this to happen to anyone else. The way I felt and the way that my friends feel sometimes from shopping there is disgusting and shouldn’t be happening."

    BuzzFeed Canada has reached out to Aritzia for comment.

    UPDATE: Aritizia has not responded to BuzzFeed Canada's emailed request for comment, but they did acknowledge the incident in a series of tweets sent to both us and Grant.

    .@BuzzFeedCanada @BuzzFeed We are sincerely apologetic for @mcsammer’s most recent experience at our Queen Street West store.

    .@BuzzFeedCanada @BuzzFeed @mcsammer We celebrate diversity & strive to deliver outstanding service to all without exception.

    .@BuzzFeedCanada @mcsammer We have been taking this very seriously & are committed to ensuring instances such as this are never repeated.

    UDPATE 2: Jennifer Wong, president and COO of Aritizia has told BuzzFeed they are investigating the matter and will be conducting one-on-one meetings with the store's staff as well as reviewing policies.

    "I would like to say upfront that we consider this experience unacceptable as we strive to deliver outstanding customer service to all, without exception, and Samantha's experience is at odds with our culture and values," said Wong, in an email.

    "We apologize to Ms. Grant for what she experienced in our store. In addition, we strive for excellence in our customer care response time and unfortunately, on this occasion, we failed to meet these standards and are sincerely apologetic."

    Wong said she is "personally committed to making the changes necessary to ensure situations like this do not arise in the future."

    Contact Lauren Strapagiel at

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