A Heartbreaking Start to the Holidays for Ferguson Businesses

After another night of violence, small businesses in Ferguson fear the worst for the holidays–both this year and for years to come. Originally appeared on Inc.com.

Courtesy Getty Images

Courtesy Getty Images

It may be the most wonderful time of the year, but for small businesses in Ferguson, Missouri, it’s pandemonium.

After last night’s revelation that a St. Louis grand jury failed to press criminal charges against Officer Darren Wilson for the shooting death of Michael Brown, demonstrators took to the streets. And just as it happened three months ago, violence erupted.

Despite pleas from small business owners last Friday that potential rioters leave them alone, a number of Ferguson stores were looted and even set on fire, from independent mom-and-pop shops to outposts of national chains like O’Reilly Auto Parts and Little Caeser’s Pizza. As with the protests after the shooting in August, the majority of damage took place along West Florissant Avenue.

Martin and Kelly Braun, the husband-and-wife team who co-own Marley’s Bar and Grill in Ferguson, kept their restaurant open until 1 a.m. last night. They sent all the other employees home, and made pizzas for the approximately 15 customers “watching the action.” The bar and grill is located on South Florissant Road, a few blocks east of the main protests. Martin Braun says his restaurant was untouched, largely thanks to its proximity to a nearby police precinct–though a couple stores right next to the station did have bricks thrown through their windows.

Like his fellow business owners across the country, the Brauns are attempting to keep their chin up as the nation heads into the busy holiday season. In particular, the night before Thanksgiving is the biggest night of the year for bars, Martin says. So they plan to keep Marley’s open for the foreseeable future, regardless of what shakes out in the days and nights to come.

And while the restaurant has yet to experience direct contact with rioters, the Brauns do fear that business will miss a beat. Among other concerns, they may exhaust their supplies; liquor deliveries have already been delayed. “They don’t want to come to Ferguson today,” Martin says. “Hopefully, they can come in and we can get stuff delivered tomorrow.”

Aside from the fear of physical damage, the uncertainty over how long the riots will continue is the biggest problem faced by small business owners in Ferguson. Unlike bigger businesses that have national chains behind them, small shops can’t necessarily wait it out. “I think this is going to be a couple-year thing to try and bring it back to the way it was. I don’t know how that’s going to work,” Braun says. READ THE FULL POST ON INC.COM: http://www.inc.com/cameron-albert-deitch/small-businesses-suffer-in-ferguson-riots.html


Cameron Albert-Deitch // Inc. magazine

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