The shop was located in a downtown Laurens building that formerly housed the Echo Theater. The building is currently owned by the Rev. David Kennedy, a black civil rights leader and Baptist pastor. The shop has acquired a great deal of publicity due to this unusual arrangement.
The building was formerly owned by Michael Burden, who was himself a Grand Dragon in the Ku Klux Klan. However, Burden found himself impoverished after leaving the KKK. Burden then approached Kennedy and apologized for his racist past, agreeing to sell Kennedy the deed to the Redneck Shop with the provision that store owner, John Howard, would be allowed to run the shop until his death. Kennedy accepted the deal, although Howard tried to sell the building in 2006 without Kennedy's permission and eventually led to a lawsuit that Howard lost.
In 1996, a white man from West Columbia, South Carolina, drove his van into the Redneck Shop as a protest against the store's racism. Kennedy said that he later told the man that, while he obviously does not agree with Howard's views, he does not feel that violence is an appropriate response.
As a meeting place for white supremacists
In addition to selling merchandise, the Redneck Shop had also been used as a meeting place for white supremacists; in 2006, it was the headquarters for the Aryan Nations' World Congress. Also, in 2008, neo-Nazi John Taylor Bowles utilized the building as the headquarters for his 2008 presidential campaign.
The true events described above have inspired an upcoming American drama film, Burden. written and directed by Andrew Heckler. The film stars Garrett Hedlund as 'Mike' Burden. The film will premiere at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival.
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- "REALITY OF RACE: 'Redneck Shop' a Hotbed of Hate". Archived from the original on June 15, 2011.
- ""Redneck Shop" Causes Racial Rift In S.C." CBS News. March 10, 2008. Archived from the original on June 15, 2011.