(Note: The photo of the sign has been edited to remove the expletive.)
SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -
When President Barack Obama spoke his mind on business earlier this month, saying all U.S. businesses have been helped in some way by the Federal Government, he also started a war of words with one local businessman.
"We've been insulted,'' said Ray Gaster, owner of Gaster Lumber. "He's picked on big business and now he's come down to my level and I'm not going to stand around and take it. I'm not going to go quietly.''
So, Gaster's reaction has been screaming outside all three Gaster Lumber locations since Friday, coming from a sign that is as defiant as it is suggestive.
The red, white and blue signs suggest the 28-year-old business was built without the government's help. On them, Gaster also invites President Obama to "kiss my a**.''
"When he gets off the teleprompter, he makes some outrageous statements,'' said Gaster. "And this time I think he's insulted every small business person out there anybody who's started a business and built a business and this is my answer.''
Gaster says he's willing to put his business where his beliefs are, understanding his signs could alienate some customers.
Reaction to them has been building on Facebook, where some people have said they won't shop at Gaster's stores, and in the community.
"That's just totally disrespectful to the President,'' said Albert Rucker, of Bloomingdale. "He is the President of the United States and regardless how you feel about him, show him that respect.''
"Last time I checked,'' countered Jamie Peterson, of Pooler, "we had freedom of speech. And it goes toward our opinion about people. I mean, not everybody agrees with President Obama.''
Anthony Acosta, who operates a pizza shop less than a mile from Gaster's Bloomindale store, doesn't just agree with the signs, he says Gaster is speaking for all small business.
"I think it's awesome because it's quite true,'' said Acosta, who owns Roma Pizza in Bloomingdale. "A lot of us small business people really started from scratch and they try to work hard and it's slow growth. But that sign really says it all.''
And while Gaster says he has not personally heard any complaints about his signs, he knows what he would say to anyone who disagrees with him.
"I'd just say, hey, welcome to America,'' he said. "This is the United States of America and you have your right to your speech and everything else. And if there's anything I can do for you I'd be happy to do it.
I've put too much effort, too much blood sweat and tears into building this business into everything that we've been through and I don't need somebody up there to be insulting me or any other businessman.''