A social entrepreneur who launched a 25p shop empire in the second home capital of Britain nearly quit after being spat at and abused – by SNOBS.
Charlotte Danks, 21, started her own ultra-budget supermarket chain in Cornwall last year and now has five dotted around the south west.
The shops are an alternative to foodbanks and feature cast-offs from the main chains which are past their sell-by date but still perfectly edible.
But since her latest Affordable Foods store opened in Bodmin, Cornwall, three weeks ago, she has been the victim of a daily torrent of abuse and even spat at.
One passer-by told her “We don’t want you around here” and the driver of a flash Mercedes threatened to report her to the authorities.
She believes the campaign of hatred against her is prompted by a toxic combination of jealousy and snobbery.
Charlotte, of Newquay, Cornwall, said: “Every day since I opened the Bodmin shop I’ve had people shouting, swearing and threatening to smash the shop up.
“It’s a mixture of men and women. It’s hard to say if they are jealous or snobs – probably both.
“I’ve tried explaining to them what Affordable Foods is all about, but they just don’t understand the concept.
“It is so sad to hear that people who don’t need my help are trying to stop me helping people that do.
“It has really got to me. The response from some is that they think I’m trying to poison people.”
Recalling one distressing incident, she claims a man turned up in a posh motor and threatened to report her to the authorities.
She added: “There was one who turned up in a Mercedes and was abusive.
“He pulled up outside the shop, walked round and started shouting abuse and how he was going to call Trading Standards.”
And recalling one particularly horrific incident, Charlotte said she was spat in the face.
She added: “It was a man in his early twenties.
“He came past me when I was outside the shop and said: ‘That shop sells gone off food.’
“I said: ‘That’s my shop you’re talking about, I’m quite proud of what I’ve acheived.’
“But he got louder and louder, he was swearing and he came closer and spat in my face.
“I have seen him since, walking up and down the road but he’s always on the other side.”
On another day, Charlotte had to deal with a middle-aged woman objecting to her presence in the town.
“I had an incident when a lady was inside the shop and was throwing stuff on the floor.
“She was saying ‘this is disgusting, we don’t want this shop round here – you shouldn’t be allowed here’.
“There are so many lovely people here, I’ve just had to deal with some of the worst.”
Charlotte says that if it wasn’t for the overwhelming support she has received from the majority of people in the town, she would have closed the store.
She added: “I did consider it, but I’ve had so much support and I’m going to try and stick it out.
“The Bodmin store has actually been the most successful to date, by far. I’m ordering three pallets a week of stock which are eight foot high.”
She added: “Hopefully the abuse I get will stop. My haters are my motivators, but it’s upsetting to have haters in the first place.”
Charlotte hit the headlines when she opened the first Affordable Foods in Newquay, Cornwall, a year ago.
The community-minded businesswoman said she wanted to help people struggling to feed their families by offering an alternative to foodbanks.
Since then she has gone on to open stores in St Austell, Truro, Bude and Bodmin.
Most of her stock comes from the main chains, but they choose not to sell it due to manufacturing defects, such as damaged packaging or incorrect labels.
The items stocked in Charlotte’s store, which include fresh meat, dairy, tinned foods and even hair dye, are coming to the end of their sell-by date, but are still well within their use-by date.
Charlotte says the Bodmin store is the most expensive to run out of the five, as it is the only premises where she has to pay business rates.
Since revealing that she has been targeted for abuse, Charlotte has received an overwhelming amount of support on social media.