A Northern Virginia business owner says he's watching his business' reputation disintegrate before it has even opened amid a racial controversy involving a different shop with a similar name.
Adam Oberheim said he's invested his life savings into Exotic Aquatics and has been preparing to open a new fish store in Springfield early next year.
But he said he now fears his business could be over even before he opens the doors.
"It’s been devastating, you know, emotionally for the last few days over this," Oberheim told News4.
He said hundreds of people are getting his business, Exotic Aquatics, mixed up with another business, Exotics & Aquatics, in Roanoke, which is more than 200 miles away.
That business is in the midst of an internet firestorm after video shows a black woman, who was a customer at the Roanoke shop, in a heated encounter with the white owner of Exotics & Aquatics.
The woman posted the video last week after the business owner was cleared on assault charges.
Soon after, the nasty calls began, Oberheim said.
"I’ve probably gotten 300 or 400 phone calls at all hours of the night," he said.
Bad reviews trashed his online reputation, he said.
Oberheim said his business is in no way affiliated with the Roanoke business.
He said he's trying to get the word out that it’s not his business by responding to social media posts and calls as far away as Australia.
"My social media from my business [is] just absolutely in the gutter. I went from five stars on Yelp and Google down to one star," Oberheim said.
Yelp placed a public attention alert on the site, temporarily disabling new posts as it investigates, but negative reviews are still visible.
Oberheim said he'd hate to lose his business' name, but if the attacks continue, he might not have to change it.