One of two dollar stores that at first refused to sell poppies on behalf of the Royal Canadian Legion has reversed its position.
The about face came when a retired Canadian Armed Forces veteran called for a boycott on Dollarama and Dollar Tree after they refused to allow poppy donation trays inside.
"I tell my members of the Army Navy — and going through to the legion — to boycott these stores. That's what I'm asking them to do," said Gord Marsh, president of ANAVETS (Army, Navy and Air Force Veterans) Unit 290.
According to Marsh, the Dollarama in the Fortune Mall and the Dollar Tree in Northills Shopping Centre would not provide counter space for the poppy trays, saying store policy allows only for in-store products to be sold.
But these aren't products, he said. They're charitable donations that go to help programs for veterans, both young and old.
"Like I told them, if it wasn't for the veterans, they wouldn't have a store like that. They'd probably be speaking another language."
While the Dollarama store has not backed down, Inga Kruse, the legion's B.C. and Yukon executive director, said the Dollar Tree says it will now allow the sale of poppies at its stores.
Dollarama later clarified its policy by saying veterans could sell poppies outside its entrances, but not leave unattended donation boxes at cash registers. The company does not want employees responsible for managing money in the boxes for any charity.
Marsh has encountered resistance to poppy trays in the past — once from the North Kamloops Library and once from a local company.
But refusals were rescinded when Marsh complained to the City and the company's headquarters.
In the business's case, its management followed up with a generous donation, he said.
Calls to the dollar stores Friday were redirected to head offices, which were not returned by press time.
Two years ago, the Aldergrove Dollarama made the news when it refused poppy trays. Public relations officer Lyla Radmanovich told media that the company didn't want employees taking responsibility for charitable donations but volunteers were welcome to stand outside the store to solicit donations.
An employee for the Sahali Dollar Tree location was unsure about a policy but did confirm that the store didn't carry poppies last year.
And a staffer for the downtown Dollarama said they too refuse poppies because there's no room on their counters.
Neither employee would provide her name.
The explanation holds no water for Marsh.
"I don't know if they're foreign owned or what," he said of the companies. "If they're that, I'll say ignorant to the fact of what veterans have done for Canada. As I say, we shouldn't shop there."