Community members have been abuzz about a favorite performer being banned from a local parking lot, near Walmart.
“Scuba Steve” as the singer, drummer and guitar player is known, often performs on a grassy knoll near the perimeter of the Walmart parking lot. Folks began to voice their protests on Friday, when word got around that Scuba had been asked to cease performing there.
The understanding was that Walmart had banned Scuba, but Walmart officials say that is not the case.
“Bring back Scuba, or boycott Walmart,” said Marvin Hutchinson, in a Daily Journal reader comment reacting to Susan Rivers’ letter to the editor “Bring back Scuba.” The letter appeared in the Daily Journal over this past weekend and stirred up plenty of reaction.
Other community members voiced similar sentiments online.
April Banks commented that Scuba never bothers anyone and, “he is so sweet and caring and just loves playing his guitar or drums and singing his little heart (out) this has become a new low for Walmart … .”
“It isn’t us,” said Walmart Community Coordinator Jean Fletcher. “We didn’t ban him. The area he performed in was not Walmart’s property. He was in Walmart (as a customer) over the weekend.”
The property adjacent to the Walmart parking lot that Scuba was asked to stop performing on is the Falling Creek Shopping Center, and is managed by Income Properties of Raleigh, Inc.
In a statement addressing community objections about the issue, the company said that the issue is one of liability.
“We have had complaints from some shoppers,” stated Bill Hicks, of Income Properties of Raleigh, in the email. “With complaints being registered with us, we (the owner) has been ‘put on notice’ should there be a confrontation of any nature or should someone get injured in or around the area where Steve may be performing.”
The email further stated that should any bystander be struck, or be involved in any confrontation while on the property, the property owner would then be liable.
The company went on to state that if there was a way to accommodate the performances without putting the owner in a position of liability, it would be happy to take that into consideration. Hicks suggested that the interested parties who contacted him discuss a written agreement, along with liability insurance.
Hicks said in an interview with the Daily Journal that the only responses he received after making those suggestions were more comments about the unfairness of the situation.
“It’s not that we are mean or insensitive,” said Hicks. “It’s purely a problem of liability, and in this day and age you have to plan for the worst case scenario. We don’t allow anyone to set up shop at any of our centers. If we let him perform, it opens the doors to everyone else who wants to do the same.”
Since last week, Scuba has been spotted performing in front of Food Lion and Broad Street Square in Rockingham.
In Rivers’ letter to the editor she wrote, in part, “For several years this precious man has hauled all of his gear behind his bicycle, rain or shine, to entertain the community. Christmas, Veterans Day, or whatever holiday comes on the calendar, ‘Scuba Steve’ is dressed for the occasion and bringing a smile to everyone’s face and a lightness to our hearts … I ask our community to stand behind our beloved local personality.”
— Staff Writer Kelli Easterling can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 18, or by email at email@example.com