NBC5 Responds started following the journey of one small businesses owner back in late May, when his two Loop boutiques were decimated by the violence and unrest that swept through the city.
Would insurance cover his loss? How could he get back on his feet in the midst of a pandemic? Now, as he prepares to re-open in just weeks, his journey may offer hope to some of the businesses hit by looting early this week.
The first time we met Michael Blossom, vestiges of violence still dotted the landscape of his two downtown stores.
“It’s been a busy time…busy in ways I’m not used to,” he told NBC5 Responds. “But insurance—the process has gone pretty well, I am happy to say.”
Michael estimates 78% of the inventory from his two Florodora shops—one clothing, one shoes—was stolen. Gone, overnight.
“I was worried. Part of insurance’s job is to make sure they don’t pay for things they don’t have to, which I understand,” Michael told NBC5 Responds.
He was worried, as any business owner in his place might be. In the shops named for his grandmother, and in the historic Monadnock building where she worked back in 1917—Michael says he started the long journey of documenting the damage.
“Each item that was stolen, I had to document,” he says. “A lot of work was involved.”
As of now, almost 80% of his losses have been covered. Much of the physical damage now painstakingly repaired, Michael says he was unnerved to see another round of looting erupt Monday.
“I’m not just nervous for my business, but my neighborhood. And for the city in general,” Michael said. “I support the cause, as long as it’s peaceful.”
In his hour of need, Florodora’s friends answered Michael’s pleas for good karma. One customer sent him an “altar to the insurance gods.”
Laughing, he said: “Maybe that is what did the trick! I don’t want to jinx myself!
So many offered him help, Michael decided to convert that generosity, and directed it toward a West Englewood clean-up day, back in June.
Just days after most of his merchandise was stolen, his own community restored something much more valuable.
“The number of people doing that greatly outnumbers the people who came and looted the store.” Michael said. “So it really kind of fixed me in terms of my feelings. I was like, this is really incredible. I feel like George Bailey! It just went so far in terms of helping me and my staff.”
Not quite full circle, but getting there—with signs of progress and hope that may offer comfort to the many Chicago-area businesses just getting on this road to recovery.