Mother opens up about horrifying BIG W baby formula fight
A woman who was at the centre of a furious argument over baby formula at Big W that went viral across the country has revealed what happened in the lead up to the heated altercation.
Steph Groen told Yahoo News she was shopping for her three-year-old toddler as well as a clothesline at the Lilydale Big W store in Melbourne on Saturday, when she watched as a couple wearing surgical masks were attempting to buy two tins of baby formula each.
The couple were asked to put the items back once they reached the self-serve checkout kiosk as there is a two-tin limit per customer in place.
From there, an explosive argument erupted.
“Staff approached them and said: ‘You won’t be able to buy that here today as you’ve been seen buying it already’,” Ms Groen recounted.
“They kept arguing and arguing and by this time it had been a good minute or two.
“The other shoppers in front of me had gone through the checkout but they didn’t have a trolley and were just holding items so could walk through.”
Ms Groen continued to watch on as the pair argued with staff but became nervous and anxious, so decided to speak up.
“He was just hassling and hassling the staff and I had enough. I said to him: ‘No, put it back, they said put it back’, and he turned to around and looked me dead in the eye.
“I was a bit scared, he looked crazy. He said, ‘what the f*** has it got to do with you’.”
Steph Groen's trolley was in between two men when a heated exchange began.
An older man defended Ms Groen as the man wearing a surgical mask yelled, and stated he had seen them purchasing milk tins at a chemist.
“What you don’t see [in the video] is he looked really scary. He was seriously aggressive over formula,” Ms Groen said.
It was then both men fiercely argued and a recording of the fight was shared on social media.
Ms Groen placed her trolley between the two to keep them apart.
“He ripped his mask off and threw the formula in my trolley,” she said.
“He lunged at the older man twice.”
In the video filmed of the incident and uploaded to Facebook, the senior customer can be heard instructing the man to “put it back”.
The other man responds: “What if I don’t? What are you going to do?”
The older man tells him that he will take him outside.
After the video ended, security stepped in and Ms Groen was able to pay for her items.
However, the mother of two said she was left shaken up while at the checkout.
“I was freaking out when he ripped his mask off and got so close – that was a massive concern,” she said.
“I’ve got two kids and I took my six-year-old out of school because I didn’t want contact with anyone. It was one of the only times I’ve gone out in nearly two months and this has happened.”
Ms Groen had left her two children at home so they did not have to witness the altercation.
Staff later thanked her for using her trolley to stop the argument from escalating and the older man and his partner have since found her on Facebook to express their gratitude.
Mr Groen says the argument was not sparked over race and there were no racial slurs during the altercation.
“The issue was the fact they were already seen buying the formula and then seen buying it again,” she said.
A Big W representative told Yahoo News Australia in a statement on Sunday that the store has had a two-tin limit in place for more than 12 months.
“The customers had a disagreement and then were asked to leave our Big W Lilydale store by a store team member and centre security, police involvement was not required,” they said.
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