A husband and wife team who own a barbershop and salon in North Park are feeling the love from their community in the face of the hate that struck their small business earlier this week.
On Wednesday, Christopher and Melissa Cage showed up to work at their barbershop on 30th Street, Originality Barber Salon, like any normal day. As they approached the business, they noticed a neighbor looking closely at the ground outside the entrance.
Melissa looked down and saw a hateful, racially-charged phrase scrolled on the ground. The tears welled up in her eyes.
“I was mad. I almost started crying,” she told NBC 7. “I was like, ‘You know what? I can’t let this get to me. I’m just going to finish my day, clean it up, and go about my business.’”
The Cages recorded video of the slur on their phones to show to investigators. They rolled up their sleeves and began trying to remove the words before any of their clients could arrive for their haircuts. They called the police and filed a report.
Every emotion imaginable ran through their minds but, mostly, they just couldn't understand why someone would do this. They felt sadness for whoever had stooped this low.
“I would just hug them,” Melissa told NBC 7, referring to what she would do if the culprit were standing in front of her. “You must just have something going on with you – some demons – so I would just hug them.”
“I would shake his hand and say, ‘Thanks for the motivation,’” Christopher added. “Thanks for the motivation.”
The Cages have been in business in North Park for about a year. They’re not sure if their barbershop was specifically targeted but they think it’s possible.
The couple said Originality Barber Salon serves a diverse clientele. Everyone is welcome there.
“We get [clients] of all colors, religions, sex, everything – so it really doesn’t make sense of why they would do that over here,” Christopher added.
After police officers took a report at the barbershop, the Cages continued to clean up the sidewalk.
They got some help from neighbors including the owners of the nearby Beerfish restaurant and Fall Brewing Company, who came over to the shop with a power-washer and made the words disappear.
The Cages also began receiving phone calls, messages and visits from clients, locals and other North Park business owners.
The outpouring of support, Christopher said, has been overwhelming.
He told NBC 7 Friday that locals have been dropping by the barbershop to tell them how much they want the Cages to continue to run their business in the neighborhood.
"People are coming in, telling us, 'Don't go anywhere. We want you here,'" Christopher added.
Melissa said that's the plan.
“You didn’t push us away; we’re here to stay,” said Melissa. “We’re going to continue to cut everybody’s hair. This is who we are. We can’t change our skin color. We’re here to stay.”
Christopher said they would stay focused on growing their business and providing quality service to the community.
"We have a family -- we're going to stay super positive," he said.
The barbershop is not equipped with security cameras but the couple plan to install cameras after this incident. They also hope police add more patrols to the neighborhood to keep this type of thing from happening to other business owners or residents.