Businesses reopen in Wilmington weeks after looting

WILMINGTON, Delaware (WPVI) -- It's been a tough couple of months for several business owners in Wilmington, Delaware.

Their stores were destroyed by looters when tensions were high across the country after the death of George Floyd.

The Convenient Store has recently reopened. Its story speaks volumes to the members of this community having each other's backs.

"On May 30, it started as a peaceful protest and then it went south," said Convenient Store owner Sam Patel.

A 20-year staple in Wilmington, the Convenient Store on Orange Street was literally ripped to shreds in front of Patel's eyes.

"The only thing salvageable in here was the main counter," said Patel.

Patel said after 11 long weeks of being shut down, he has nothing but love in his heart. He credits being able to reopen thanks to the support of his customers.

"We had customers that ranged from 8 to 10-years-old to 70-years-old," said Patel. "And it really touched me that I'm part of the community and they're part of my community."

Eunice Lafate, another longtime business owner of Lafate Gallery, was spared to the same destruction to his store, but said the damage hurt nonetheless.

"I believe in this city and I was very, very saddened, however, we are moving on," said Lafate.

"Each rock, each stone, that was cast into a building, was someone saying I was trying to be heard - for whether it's months, whether it's years, whether it's decades," J.J. Francis, vice chairman of the Wilmington Democratic City Committee, said.

Many in the community said there's a much needed silver lining.

"What I've seen is a change that is commitment to Black enfranchisement here picking up in Delaware that is being received by every person, every color," said Francis.
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