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Kalamazoo Mall shops determined to ‘keep going’ after violent Monday night

Small businesses continue to recover, one owner says ‘damage done doesn’t speak for rest of the community’
Posted at 7:18 PM, Jun 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-03 19:39:15-04

KALAMAZOO, Mich. — When Lana Hoffman found out that several businesses on the Kalamazoo Mall were damaged Monday night, she arrived to her shop Lana's Boutique at 2 a.m. the next day to check it out.

Hoffman was heartbroken, she said. She recorded the damage on her cell phone.

“OK, here’s the store. Windows are busted out,” Hoffman said in the video. “Hard to know what to do right now, other than get it boarded up and hope for the best that this is all we’re going to have to see, hoping that this is the worst.”

The Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety said Monday night, after an afternoon of silent protesting, a new group showed up to the downtown area and damaged several businesses by busting their windows and looting.

“It’s hard to know what to do or what to expect. We were just getting some momentum. We felt like with COVID being lifted, we were getting real excited and lots of merchandising and trying to prepare to open, and now this,” Hoffman said. “It’s hard. It’s frustrating.”

Hoffman, like many stores on the Mall, put up plywood or a similar wood on their windows.

Adrianne’s Boutique was also boarded up. Owner Adrianne Merkling said they all received messages to do so.

“Thank God my husband came home from work because I said otherwise this would be cardboard and duct tape,” Merkling laughed. “It’s a lot of work. Hopefully this afternoon I’ll have the door back open.”

Merkling also taped a few messages to the board including Black Lives Matter. Other businesses like Gazelle Sports and Principle restaurant put up the same message.

“This community is fantastic and I’m so happy that people recognize that the damage that was done doesn’t speak for the rest of the community,” Merkling said. “We’re in full support of making sure that the peaceful protests still remain heard.”

Merkling added that she’s ready to get back to work.

Hoffman agreed. A few people entered her business and shopped on Wednesday.

Even though it’s hard to remain positive, she said, ‘quitting is not an option.’

“Being a small business owner and entrepreneur, you just have that spirit that you don’t give up,” Hoffman said. “You keep going and you fight through it all.”