Why So Many Businesses Are Still Boarded Up Months After Unrest

Elsie Mae’s Canning and Pies, a bakery in Kenosha, Wis., boarded up its storefront after protests over the police shooting of Jacob Blake.

Photo: Kelly Deem

Every morning when he unlocks the door to his New York City wine shop, the brown plywood covering one of its windows reminds Shermon Peters of the night nearly three months ago when looters smashed the glass and stole an expensive bottle of cognac.

“It reminds me, ‘Oh, someone looted me,’ ” said Mr. Peters, 48 years old, who has owned Rosetta Wines in Manhattan’s Financial District since 2010. “I have to think about this struggle to get it fixed. And on top of that, business is down.”

Some storefronts remain boarded up in cities across the country, even in places that haven’t seen significant civil unrest since late May and early June after the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Business and building owners say delays in glass shipments, flagging sales because of the coronavirus pandemic and, in some cases, concern over future unrest are all contributing to the slow removal of the plywood protections.

Block by Block, a company that provides cleaning, hospitality and security services to local business-improvement districts, said that just over one-quarter of the 88 business-improvement districts in major metro areas it surveyed still had boards on some businesses last week. Boarded-up windows were more common in the western half of the U.S. than in the East, the group said.

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