Local business owners in Ferguson, Missouri, are struggling to stay open for business amid the looting and violence sparked by the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager by a police officer.
Charlie Ked, who runs Elite Liquor on West Florissant Avenue, said employees are sleeping at the store and keeping irregular hours timed to take advantage of lulls in the turmoil.
“We open and on and off,” said Mr. Ked in a telephone interview. “We lost a lot of money. They [looters] steal a lot of liquor, a lot of cigarettes.”
So far there are no estimates of the economic hit to the suburban community, but the St. Louis Business Journal reports that more than 30 businesses have suffered damage, including broken windows and stolen goods, since rioting began in the days after the Aug. 9 shooting.
Many stores have reduced their hours, in some cases at the request of law enforcement, but they’re the lucky ones. Other businesses have sustained damage so severe that they’ve been forced to close, such as a QuikTrip gas station that was razed last weekend.
John Zisser of Zisser Tire and Auto Services told the Business Journal that damage and inventory loss could top $100,000. He was able to open his doors after replacing broken windows with plywood board and hanging up a “Now Open” banner.
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The rioting erupted in the wake of memorial vigils for Michael Brown, 18, who was shot six times by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. Police later released video showing Brown robbing a convenience store and pushing a clerk.