My question involves business law in the state of: IL
I just opened a business about a month ago and a similar business in a neighboring town keeps sending fake customers (spies as I have labelled them) to my store to harass me. The other owner is apparently upset that I've opened up shop selling similar merchandise.
I know that the customers are fake because I recognize them from the other store (I used to occasionally shop there). They are regular customers of the other business and may even be friends with the owner (unconfirmed, but suspected). I'm guessing they were recruited by the other store's owner to come to my store and make me feel uncomfortable as well as try to discourage my customers from doing business with me.
The spies' behavior is obvious and juvenile. Every couple of days one or two of them will come in, give me a cold look as I greet them, rumage through my shelves, not buy anything, and then defiantly march out of my store while loudly declaring within earshot of my "real" customers that my store sucks and the other business in the other town is so much better - always making sure to mention the other business by name.
The spies have also been seen on two occasions loitering in front of my store in the parking lot, passing out flyers for the other store to my customers when they leave mine.
Is this behavior legal? Is there anything I can do to stop these fake customers/spies from coming in, wasting my time, and openly promoting the other business? Can I legally ban them from my store?
How about passing out the flyers right in front of my shop? I'm guessing this is legal, but want to ask.
So far I have responded to this harassment by not responding. I still greet the spies like any other customer and express no emotion when they insult my store as they leave. I stand there like a wooden Indian and refuse to discuss the matter with customers in my store who ask what their problem is.
Most of my customers have actually been sympathetic to me when the spies try to make me and my store look bad!