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Wednesday, July 8, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Coming back from stay-home restrictions, downtown businesses work to recover from riot impact

UPDATED: Mon., June 1, 2020

Security guards check out a boarded up Nike Factory Store on Monday, in downtown Spokane. (Tyler Tjomsland/The Spokesman-Review)
Security guards check out a boarded up Nike Factory Store on Monday, in downtown Spokane. (Tyler Tjomsland/The Spokesman-Review)

Several operators of downtown Spokane businesses were devastated Monday over damage caused in a wave of looting and vandalism the night before that followed a peaceful protest over George Floyd’s death.

Damage is still being assessed, but it’s estimated that 10 to 15 downtown businesses sustained broken windows – including the Nike Factory Store at River Park Square – with dozens more reporting graffiti on their buildings, said Mark Richard, president and CEO of the Downtown Spokane Partnership.

“A lot of (the business owners) that I have run into and visited today, I think, initially were very distraught and disheartened by what happened and the impact to their businesses as they are just now trying to get back on their feet after COVID-19,” Richard said.

Spokane Exercise Equipment, on Main Avenue, sustained damage to two windows that will cost thousands of dollars to replace, said Patti Pettigrew, who founded the store with her husband, Gary, in 1996.

Police officers were effective at managing the situation that unfolded Sunday evening, prior to the gathering of peaceful protesters, who did a “wonderful job” of voicing their feelings, Pettigrew said.

“Unfortunately, there’s a certain portion – a small portion – that decide violence is the answer,” she said. “Do I like the damage? No I don’t, but we take it in stride and move on.”

Sunday’s incident is unfortunate for downtown business owners who rely on foot traffic from shoppers, especially following coronavirus-related closures, Pettigrew said.

Cochinito Taqueria owner Travis Dickinson said he was “glued to the restaurant’s security cameras” Sunday evening and, luckily, it didn’t sustain any damage.

Police used rubber bullets, tear gas and flash bangs to scatter crowds Sunday night near Riverside Avenue and Howard Street, about two blocks east of Cochinito.

Dickinson said the vandalism and looting that occurred Sunday night in downtown Spokane were disappointing, especially coming at a time when area businesses are reopening after the statewide stay-at-home order.

Cochinito experienced strong sales last week after reopening its dining area, Dickinson said, adding he was feeling encouraged about business before Sunday evening’s riot.

“It was definitely a gut punch for me and so many other people because we are finally seeing a light at the end of tunnel where we can get positive cash flow,” he said.

Indaba Coffee owner Bobby Enslow closed his two downtown coffee shops Monday as a precaution to ensure employees’ safety.

Enslow said the shops didn’t sustain damage and will hopefully reopen today after months of providing takeout-only service because of restrictions imposed by the stay-at-home order.

“It was a bit of a bummer because we were going to start Phase 2 today, but unfortunately we are going to have to wait until tomorrow for those locations,” he said Monday.

The Nike Factory Store at River Park Square remained closed Monday with broken storefront windows. Nike representatives are assessing damage to the store and have not yet determined a dollar amount, said Bryn West, vice president of River Park Square.

River Park Square is owned by affiliates of Cowles Co., which also publishes The Spokesman-Review.

West said she’s thankful for the peaceful protesters who linked arms outside of the Nike store to stop looters and help save “what could have been a much worse event.”

In addition to the Apple and Nike stores, Williams-Sonoma, Nordstrom and Pottery Barn boarded up windows as an added precaution, she said.

Area police officers did a great job in the downtown core to ensure safety of businesses, West added.

“We are blessed our whole region stepped up to help us,” West said. “Now, we are dealing with cleaning up today and getting back to business as usual.”

Richard, of the Downtown Spokane Partnership, said he appreciates the volunteers who worked alongside business owners and city crews to clean up graffiti and debris from downtown streets.

“We anticipated we would walk into a really daunting job of trying to get downtown back in good condition,” Richard said. “Having all these volunteers has been really uplifting.”

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