Knoxville business owner says he's sticking with Paula Deen

Knoxville business owner says he's sticking with Paula Deen

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Knoxville Wholesale Furniture's owner said he supports Deen. Knoxville Wholesale Furniture's owner said he supports Deen.
"It's kind of ridiculous because we all make our mistakes. It was said 20 years ago. Times have changed since then. I think it's over the top," said shopper Kane Smith. "It's kind of ridiculous because we all make our mistakes. It was said 20 years ago. Times have changed since then. I think it's over the top," said shopper Kane Smith.
"I think it would have been worse if they had to defend her," PR expert Cynthia Moxley explained "The problem is you don't know what else is out there. You don't know what else is going to come out." "I think it would have been worse if they had to defend her," PR expert Cynthia Moxley explained "The problem is you don't know what else is out there. You don't know what else is going to come out."

By ALEXIS ZOTOS
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – More companies have announced they are dropping celebrity chef Paula Deen amid the recent controversy over her use of a racial slur.

Target, Home Depot and the diabetes drug maker Novo Nordisk are the latest in a slew companies severing ties with Paula Deen.

But a Knoxville company says they're standing by the Southern chef.

Along I-40, drivers are greeted by Deen's smiling face on the side of Knoxville Wholesale Furniture. A billboard for the company greets drivers with "Shop Y'all"

The owner of the company, Tim Harris, told 6 News, "We fully support Paula Deen and our partnership. We do not condone what she said, but plan to continue to carry her line. We have received many phone calls of support from customers."

But shoppers at stores like Target soon won't be able to load their carts with Paula Deen cookware after the store joined the growing list dropping the celebrity chef, something some shoppers think is an overreaction.

"It's kind of ridiculous because we all make our mistakes. It was said 20 years ago. Times have changed since then. I think it's over the top," said shopper Kane Smith.

"[They're] overreacting. I don't see the harm in what she did. She apologized for it," said Carl Scarlett, another shopper outside Target.

But PR expert Cynthia Moxley of Moxley Carmichael says the companies made the smart decision.

"You have to be prepared to take quick action and that's what a lot of these companies are doing," Moxley said.

But now there is heavy backlash against these companies. Hundreds of posts to the 6 News Facebook page show a growing anger.

Teresa Drawdy Nave wrote, "I'll never be back in Target."

While poster Todd Johnson said, "I'm announcing today I'm ending my relationship with Target."

Moxley says the backlash is better than the alternative.

"I think it would have been worse if they had to defend her," she explained "The problem is you don't know what else is out there. You don't know what else is going to come out."

Another place Paula Deen fans are voicing their support is online. On Amazon, advance sales of her new cookbook have surged by 1,300%, putting it in the #1 spot.

The three companies dropping Deen Thursday only add to a quickly growing list of lost endorsements for the celebrity chef.

Target, Novo Nordisk, and Home Depot join Walmart, Smithfield Farms, Caesars Entertainment, and Food Network, all of which are ending their business relationship with Deen.

Meanwhile, two other companies said to be considering their next move are Sears and QVC.

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