The Peanut Shop on Dauphin Street is a downtown favorite to many customers who frequent the 70-year-old establishment.
” I’ve been coming since I was a little girl,” long-time customer Sherry Roberts said. “They love to talk. They love conversation. They tell you what’s going on the city. They’re just always so nice and friendly.”
So, it came as a surprise to the owner when a flood of negative Facebook reviews came pouring in within minutes of each other Saturday night; many commenters showing out-of-town profiles.
“I never knew what the word “troll” meant until about two days ago,” owner Debbie Gibson said.
“It’s devastating. I take great pride in what I’ve done with my life and my reputation. And, for these people to try to destroy it, and they don’t even know me. They weren’t there. They probably weren’t even in the city,” Gipson said.
The attack of one-star reviews spawned from an encounter between the owner and a concert-goer who was waiting in line to get inside Soul Kitchen.
Gipson said it’s common for concert-goers in line to block the entrance of her store, so she tries to get people to move out of the way.
Like many of the commenters, WKRG was not present Saturday night. Unlike those commentators, we won’t speculate about was or wasn’t said.
What we can tell you is that legally there’s not a lot that business owners can do if their store falls under attack on popular sites like YELP or Facebook.
Take the Minnesota case of Doctor David McKee for instance. McKee spent four years and thousands of dollars trying to sue for defamation when a patient posted negative reviews on a “rate-your-doctor” website. The high court ruled in favor of the patient because the posts were simply opinions.
In the case of the Peanut Shop though, it appears that dozens of locals have come to their aid, praising the business with five-star reviews to try to offset the damage online.