A mum and daughter who run a fancy dress shop say they have been targeted by internet trolls because they sell clown masks in the wake of the ‘killer clown’ craze.
Fiona Boston, 51, and her 27-year-old daughter Sophie Harcourt have received comments saying they should be ashamed of themselves for selling the fancy dress items.
The criticism comes after a number of incidents were reported in Hartlepool and further afield that people dressed as clowns had been deliberately frightening children.
Several people reported having been chased by three clowns armed with claw hammers in Burn Valley Park, last week.
Elswhere in teh North East, an 11-year-old autistic schoolboy was said to be too frightened to leave his home after he was targeted.
Now Fiona and Sophie, who run a pop-up Halloween shop in the market hall of Hartlepool’s Middleton Grange Shopping Centre, have been subjected to angry messages on social media.
Killer Clowns is an American craze that has got out of handFiona Boston
The shop, which has operated in the run up to Halloween for the last 17 years, has always counted clown masks as one of its most popular items for sale, with this years’ sales being the best yet.
Fiona said: “We have been selling clown masks, and we are selling them again this year.
“We’ve been approached by people saying we shouldn’t be selling them, but we sell them because people like them.
“We have definitely had no drop in sales, it’s actually been our best year so far.
“We just want to put the message out there that there is no need to be scared of clowns.
“Don’t be scared, don’t be frightened – it’s just fun.”
Fiona said there are far more frightening fancy dress outfits out there, and that there is no need to vilify clowns.
“Killer Clowns is an American craze that has got out of hand,” she added.
“Clown masks are not any worse than Freddy Kreuger masks or anything else that we sell, that I would say are more frightening.
“If you look at the Gothic weekend in Whitby, some of the things they wear are even more frightening.
“We sell licenced costumes and we have been selling them for 17 years, and people like clowns so we have been selling them too.
“I have been getting keyboard warriors posting things on social media, that it is not nice, saying we should be ashamed of ourselves and stop selling them because it’s irresponsible. They’ve been saying all sorts of horrible things.
“It’s mainly from some of the older generation. It’s startling, really. Why should I be ashamed?”
Between October 4 and 10, Cleveland Police had reports 62 clown incidents including eight in Hartlepool.
Police also attended St Hild’s School following an online threat that a clown would attend.
Most Hartlepool sightings have been reported at night, during the hours of 8pm and 10pm.