Wednesday, September 17th


Redneck Shop emptied of merchandise

Just weeks after a judge awarded ownership of it to a local black church, the Redneck Shop in downtown Laurens now sits nearly empty. Except for a few tables and flags hung in the windows, the store was cleaned out over the weekend.


Rev. David Kennedy is the pastor at New Beginnings Baptist Church, the church that has been involved in a legal battle with the store’s owner, John Howard, since 1997.


“It’s a really odd situation,” he said. “We are a long ways away from being over legally.”


After the church proved that the building had been sold to them by a friend of Howard's, the judge ruled in their favor. But the original deed states that Howard can run the business there until he passes away so the church wasn't able to immediately close down the shop that sold Klu Klux Klan memorabilia and other similar items.


Kennedy said he sent a certified letter to Howard last Thursday and requested again to inspect the space. But even when armed with the judges’ ruling, Kennedy said he still has not been granted access to inspect the building and hasn’t heard back from Howard.


“By law, we do have a vested interest in the building,” he said. “We may have to go before a judge again.”


Kennedy suspects that the store may be facing future legal battles. “I think they probably have some pending issues,” he said.


Many members of the community, including Kennedy, have oppressive memories of the place and what it stood for.


“We are still working to get it shut down,” he said. “We’d much rather see it be used for something that includes all people.”


In December, the judge also ruled that Howard must pay the church’s legal fees. The church has yet to collect payment.


According to Sue Barton, owner of Second Impressions furniture store next door, the merchandise was moved out of Redneck Shop at night on Friday and Saturday.


Howard declined to comment when reached.



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