Downtown store owners speak out after wave of vandalism along Walnut Street – CBS Philly

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Downtown store owners are speaking out just days after a wave of vandalism along Walnut Street. They speak candidly about what it takes to survive.

Tiffany’s storefront is still boarded up and pictures like this don’t help keep customers coming back.

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“I stop and think, keep an eye over my shoulder,” said downtown resident Bill Good.

For many, a walk down Walnut Street doesn’t look the same as before COVID-19.

Dozens of businesses have closed and those that remain have not had it so easy. Eyewitness News cameras were found closed in the windows of Tiffany & Co. and Vince stores after criminals allegedly vandalized the two luxury boutiques in recent days.

“I walk past here every day and knew it was a matter of time because they have jewelry in the window,” one woman said.

“It wasn’t worth it anymore,” said Wonderland owner Michael Katz.

After 47 years, Katz says he was forced into early retirement after cutting staff and hours just to get by, and while COVID-19 is a big part of a downturned business, the crime cannot be ignored.

Some of this vandalism happened during the 2020 riots.

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“Almost every window had been smashed on Walnut Street, Chestnut Street,” Katz said.

“We got people into the store, got our cash register,” Silver Legends owner Leon Scott said.

Silver Legends, which has been a Walnut Street staple for more than 17 years, was one of the hardest-hit stores. He was forced to install security bars and claims business has fallen 30% since 2020.

On Wednesday, the mayor explained why.

“I don’t believe it’s a crime issue,” Mayor Jim Kenney said. “I think it’s a problem of people who haven’t fully recovered from the pandemic at this point.”

Although the answer may be complicated, those here are simply hoping that they can wait out the worst.

“I want to retire in about 10 years and hopefully I can do it from here,” Scott said.

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It is estimated that more than 1,000 local businesses, including shops and restaurants, have closed since March 2020.