Chattanooga Mercantile Relocates after Alleged Assault, Verbal Abuse

CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) — Chattanooga Mercantile is moving to Gateway Antiques Mall in Fort Oglethorpe.

But staff say the location they are leaving behind is a building in disrepair.

“On a day that it rains, this place is like a sieve. It just, it leaks everywhere — on our furniture; it leaks on our
expensive furniture; it ruins our furniture,” said Steve Watts, Owner of Chattanooga Mercantile.

“It is appalling the condition that this building is in. There’s windows that are cracking. The foundation, we understand,
is settling. It’s hot in here because the air conditioner doesn’t work,” said Susanne Robertson, a relative of a vendor.

Business Owner Steve Watts also alleges the property owner has assaulted him and one of his employees, both verbally and physically.

“He’s called me queer twice and swung at me twice, and we’ve had him arrested both times. And it seems like nothing
happens, because he’s back out and he come in and did it again,” said Watts.

“You said ‘you are a nobody,’ and then he just keeps attacking me, getting closer and closer, and screaming. He actually,
the spit from screaming goes into my face — and during COVID that’s something you don’t want — so I continue to back up,
and then he starts to swing at me,” said Rita Thomison, Manager of Chattanooga Mercantile.

Police records show that the landlord was arrested in March for simple assault.

And Steve Watts says that after four years, it’s time to leave.

“I walk around and I hear people talking, and I heard one of my employees talking about carrying a gun, and when you hear
your employees talking about carrying a gun to feel safe, it’s done. It’s done,” said Watts.

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