Nearly four months after a Bronzeville clothing store was ransacked and looted, its owner is preparing to reopen.
"I never expected you guys to come back again," Hak Kim told NBC 5.
In June, Kim said he was too emotionally distraught to reopen his business, City Fashions, on East 34th Street. He was also facing $350,000 in damage without any insurance. He'd recently lost coverage because of the pandemic.
Determined not to go down without a fight, Kim painstakingly watched looters destroy his small business from the parking lot. At one point, on May 31, standing in a broken window, armed with a wrench, he pleaded with thieves to back off. It wasn't enough.
"It was tough because I’ve never seen him like that before," said Eddie Kim, Hak's son. "Seeing him go through that, you wouldn’t wish that on anyone."
Now, with the help of his family, Kim is ready to reopen, in a new location, just next door. The rebound is thanks in large part to people the family doesn't even know. In a matter of days, an online fundraiser brought in more than $200,000.
"I feel like that’s just unheard of especially because we’re not the only small business that went through this," said Eddie Kim. "It wasn’t just the money. It was the comments. Getting those emails everyday, reading it, it really helped us get back on our feet."
Hak Kim recalls a particularly heartfelt message.
"I still remember one comment," he said. "My age is 15 years old. All my money is $12. I donate for you. Don’t give up. Reopen the store."
Although the family fears the worst could happen again, they have new security cameras in place. Kim's son is also taking a temporary leave of absence from a consulting firm to get his father's financials in order and update his point of sale system.
City Fashions will reopen Saturday at 10 a.m.