Ottawa boutique owner already seeing backlash after testifying at ‘Freedom Convoy’ trial

schad boutique freedom convoy trial
Chantal Biro, owner of Schad boutique on Sussex Drive, testified that the streets surrounding her business were blocked by protestors during last year's "Freedom Convoy". Photo by Sarah MacFarlane

A local business owner who is currently testifying in the criminal trial of two of the “Freedom Convoy” organizers said she is dreading backlash from convoy supporters — and not for the first time.

Chantal Biro, owner of upscale women’s clothing boutique Schad on Sussex Drive, said her business has consistently been targeted by convoy supporters any time she has shared her experience, and she is already seeing the impact on her business since this morning’s testimony.

“In the past when I have been subpoenaed, (supporters of the convoy) have found my business and given bad reviews,” said Biro. “It’s already started today after this morning.”

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Last year, Biro appeared in a television interview regarding the convoy and said the one-star, impolite reviews appeared quickly afterward. 

“It hurts because I have no choice, I was subpoenaed, and it’s not going to end soon,” she added. “But it’s hard because then they go give bad reviews to try to impact my business.

“Like sure, you’re mad, why not seek out a woman who owns a small business?”

In her testimony today, Biro said she saw far fewer customers and a big drop in sales after trucks of all kinds blocked downtown streets as part of the “Freedom Convoy” protest last year.

The smell of vehicle exhaust, marijuana and cigarette smoke would seep into the store where she was working seven days a week.

The boutique, which has been in business for 25 years, moved from its former home on Sussex Drive to its current location a few blocks north to take advantage of foot traffic and nearby businesses. But while the convoy was in Ottawa, the surrounding streets, including Sussex itself, were gridlocked by protestors and Biro said her boutique was blocked by big rigs and pickup trucks that blared their horns. 

She also told the court about several unpleasant interactions with protesters, some of whom swore at her when she asked them to move out of the doorway of her store or mocked her for wearing a mask.

Today was scheduled to be the final day of the criminal trial, but the Crown still has seven witnesses to hear from as part of its case.

– with files from the Canadian Press

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