To accompany a post announcing its closure, a University of Missouri doughnut store posted a notorious photo of former professor Melissa Click, one of the key figures from the protests that rocked the school last year.
“It’s been a lot of fun but there has been a correlation between the student population and the decline in our sales,” Strange Donuts’ Facebook post said. The company’s other two Missouri locations remain open.
Strange Donuts had the misfortune of opening its Columbia branch in March 2015, just months before contentious protests caught national media attention.
Viral video from the demonstrations showed Melissa Click, a communications instructor, calling for “muscle” to remove a student reporter. In the end, the student protests contributed to the resignation of the university’s president and chancellor. As Heat Street reported, administrators worried about a “PR nightmare” and were deluged with emails from parents, alumni, fans and donors outraged with how Mizzou had handled the protests.
The doughnut shop’s owner, Jason Bockman, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he had underestimated how much business would lag during the summer. But the real problem seems to have been the sharp decline in the number of students attending Mizzou, which has been partially attributed to the protests. Last fall, freshman enrollment was down more than 20 percent from the previous year.
Students did not take kindly to Strange Donuts’ snarky post. They began leaving one-star reviews on the business’s Facebook page. They even invited others on campus to swarm a rival doughnut shop this morning “to celebrate Strange Donut’s PR nightmare/going out of business.” According to the Facebook event, 162 students participated.
Bockman, who could not immediately be reached for comment, had taken the post down and apologized by Thursday morning, saying it was “never my intention to be inflammatory or offensive.”
“I try to live a life of inclusion and service to my community,” Bockman wrote. “The announcement was a poor representation of me and my brand.”
— Jillian Kay Melchior writes for Heat Street and is a fellow for the Steamboat Institute and the Independent Women’s Forum.