Three downtown shop owners say they are not giving up

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Centos Shoes, Red’s Classic Barber Shop and J. Benzal Menswear sit in the heart of the downtown—all within a block of the intersection of Washington and Meridian streets, just south of the Circle.

Those locations put them smack in the middle of protests that turned into riots over the weekend. Their owners arrived on Sunday to find their windows had been smashed and their shops looted. But in all three places, the cleanup was underway and the owners were already planning to reopen.

Here’s what they told IBJ about their plans:

Tony Cento, owner of Cento Shoes

“I don’t think anybody purposely said, ‘Oh, yeah, I don’t like that store'”

The combination of the pandemic and ransacking of his business has been hard for the owner of the nearly 50-year-old shop to take.

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Mamadou “Ben” Diallo and Kameelah Diallo, owners of J. Benzal Menswear

‘At least this is just merchandise we’re losing’

The husband-and-wife owners say the violence over the weekend stems from issues of inequality that society must address.

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Alexandra “Red” Ridgway, Michael Ridgway and Roy Stevenson, owners of Red’s Classic Barber Shop

‘We pride ourselves on a unique brand of diversity’

The shop, which opened in 2007, has been closed since March because of the pandemic. It aims to reopen Tuesday.

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6 thoughts on “Three downtown shop owners say they are not giving up

  1. Do you really feel that way John M? Do you honestly think our mayor “gave up”? He is not that type. Do you honestly think our city leaders quit? I hear a lot of arm-chair critics out there with no solutions. It’s easy for you to sit behind a computer and criticize. Why dont you get out there and do something? Go make a difference. Go change a neighborhood. Go talk to someone who feels oppressed about what they may be feeling right now. Get a grip.

    1. He should have instituted a curfew the first night. Pretty much anyone was going to be able to tell you how it would turn out after seeing what happened in Minneapolis. But then again he was scared he might alienate some voters so he did his usual….nothing.

  2. This problem did not begin with the tragedy in Minneapolis… It began with the breakdown of family values, and the lack of education. We have been desensitized. How else could someone explain a news anchor describing the lawlessness downtown as a vandal breaks out the bank window right behind her? He walks away with no consequences…UNBELIEVABLE.