Toy stores increasingly avoid Zwarte Piet in holiday decorations

The largest toy store chains in the Netherlands largely prefer to avoid the debate around the appearance of blackface Sinterklaas character Zwarte Piet by not having the character in their stores, NU.nl reports after speaking to the toy stores.

Intertoys, the largest toy chain in the Netherlands with over 200 branches, removed Piet in whatever form completely from decorations in Intertoys stores. The chain thus avoids uncomfortable situations, a spokesperson said to the newspaper.

Another large toy chain, which asked not to be mentioned by name, tries to avoid the use of whatever kind of Piet in the store as much as possible. The chain wants to avoid the Zwarte Piet discussion, an employee said. 

Jase & Joy hopes to bypass the discussion by dressing up the two figures from its logo, the children Jase and Joy. One child wears a miter the other a Piet cap. "They do what children do, they dress up. That's how we stay away from the discussion of Chimney Pieten or Zware Pieten", Miriam de Bruin of Euretco, parent company of Jase & Joy, said to the newspaper. 

Sector organization Detailhandel Nederland also noticed the increasing disappearance of Zwarte Piet in the Dutch shopping streets. "We are seeing that a change is slowly taking place", spokesperson Laetitia Gruwel said to NU.nl. The Sinterklaas celebration is perhaps the most important period of the year for shops, with sales always skyrocketing as people shop for gifts. "And then you don't want controversy", Gruwel said.

Detailhandel Nederland also noticed a difference in the use of Zwarte Piet between the Randstad and more rural areas. The role of Piet within the Sinterklaas party is particularly changing in the Randstad. "Zwarte Piet is not yet gone in smaller cities outside the Randstad", Gruwel said. 

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