Retailer Denies Sign Is a Slur

Tom Ramstack, Washington Times, November 16, 2007

A Casa Furniture and Bedding store in Alexandria has been advertising easy credit with a twist: “no gringo papers” necessary.

A sign outside the store at the intersection of North Beauregard and King streets reads, “Credito sin papeles de gringo.” In English, that could be translated to say “Credit without gringo papers.”

Blanca Granados, the store’s assistant manager, translated the message to mean “just ‘without white papers,’ like Social Security or like that.”

Miss Granados said the store requires customers who purchase furniture on credit to fill out an application and provide personal documentation. The store will accept a passport as identification.

“Some people say, ‘You know, I don’t have a Social Security,’ ” Miss Granados said. “They can show their passport if they don’t have any other papers.”

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Michael Barrera, president of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, said he was aware of the sign but said the way “gringo” was used is not necessarily an insult.

“I think it’s more for marketing,” he said. “Gringo is not always a pejorative term.”

The sign has been up for years, he said, but might strike a nerve now as the debate over illegal immigration intensifies in the local political arena.

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