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VOICES

A Convenience Store Owner's Uneasy Calm

October 25, 1992|JAKE DOHERTY | When looters hit his convenience store near the Coliseum during the April-May riots, the owner suffered nearly $80,000 in damage and stolen equipment. He was not insured. Twice, while protecting his store on the night of April 29, he put out small fires ignited by Molotov cocktails thrown through a window. Three weeks later he reopened his store. The owner, who asked that his name not be used, was interviewed by The Times' Jake Doherty. and

My customers are mostly good people.

Sometimes I give them little presents when they have a birthday, a baby or some celebration. I have good relations with people here, but sometimes people from outside the neighborhood come and cause problems.

When I call the police they come three or four hours later. You keep watching for danger coming and you don't trust people right now.

Late at night people still try to do bad things. My employees patrol outside the store, but it's scary when four or five people come in and try to steal something. Sometimes they make a motion like they have a gun.

It's still dangerous in this area. That's why we're trying to buy some bulletproof vests.

I think it's possible that some of the same people who looted the store come back sometimes--it's the same situation. Sometimes people steal diapers. Maybe it's because of the economy. It's a poor area and people don't have much money.

Even with the Raiders' games, the fans don't spend much money here. The economy is very slow.

I'd like to sell, but what can I do? I can't sell unless someone wants to buy the store.

I should be getting an SBA (Small Business Administration) loan in two or three weeks, but that's not free. I have to pay that back. I also got a personal loan from a friend. The Korean bank I used doesn't want to make a loan to me now.

What can I do?

When I came to the United States (in 1979) I thought this was a beautiful land with beautiful people, but I've changed my mind.

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