Man in wheelchair asked to leave historic store – unbelievable.

Edited to add text, since the original has disappeared:

Man in wheelchair asked to leave historic store, may sue

The Associated Press
6/25/2004, 4:35 p.m. CT

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (AP) — A Toney man is considering legal action after he was asked to leave a hardware store museum because he was in a wheelchair, though store managers say safety and historic preservation concerns left them no alternative.

Ben Tipton said a volunteer at Harrison Brothers Hardware Store allowed him and his mother inside the downtown store Thursday morning. But after they browsed for about 15 minutes, Tipton said, the store manager asked them to leave.

“She was very, very rude and said because I was in a wheelchair, it was against the fire ordinances,” Tipton told The Huntsville Times for a story Friday. “This is the first place that ever told me to leave because I was in a wheelchair.”

Lynne Berry, executive director of the Historic Huntsville Foundation, which owns and operates the store, said strollers and wheelchairs are not allowed in the store because of fire regulations. She said store manager Raquel Gejam was “very polite” in handling the situation.

“The fire department always tells us during inspection that the aisles are not wide enough,” Berry said. “We’re very sorry, and I wish we could do it some other way.”

Berry said a sign outside the shop only mentioned strollers as being prohibited inside. She said the sign has since been updated to include wheelchairs.

Still, Tipton is trying to determine whether a civil action is possible under the Americans with Disabilities Act, said his attorney, Edward Blair.

“At this point it’s just conversation,” Blair said. “But the way (the manager) handled it was very poor. We’re looking into anything we might be able to do.”



  1. Patricia Tryon

    I wish we could do it some other way ??

    Doesn’t sound like it. According the the store’s Web site (which I think flunks Accessibility 101, too), “Store renovations are now completed.” No reference to the store being inaccessible.

    It’s owned by a foundation that appears to have 501(c)(3) status, which ought to make anyone’s blood boil. Why allow contributions to be tax deductible for organizations that won’t make themselves accessible?

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