They decided to expand their independent minority-owned publishing business and open a wellness store in Los Angeles last year. Building it on a corner that had been vacant for three years, it took months of renovation and hard work to bring this location back to life. In addition to their media team, they also hired local retail employees. They offered products from the industry’s most trusted brands and created an event room as a gathering place for the community.
Earlier this year, they moved their publishing offices from Berkeley and brought everything they wanted to keep to Los Angeles. So not only was this their retail location, but it also recently became their company headquarters.
Due to Covid-19, they had to close down in March. They arrived back in LA two weeks ago to reopen the store. They told us how neighbors and customers kept coming by and telling them how happy they were to see the doors open again.
Then this past weekend, their store was looted and vandalized during the riots.
That morning Anna was planning a photo shoot of their products for the new e-commerce website she is building for their store. Eugenio called her and told her to stay home. All of the businesses in their shopping complex and in their neighborhood were closing up due to planned protests.
A peaceful protest congregated soon after on the corner of 3rd & La Cienega directly in front of their building. Eugenio left the store and met Anna at their Airbnb a few blocks away. They watched their security cameras for hours while helicopters buzzed nonstop overhead.
When Anna saw the first looter run through the store she alerted Eugenio. She begged him not to go, but he said he had to try since it was all they had. Once he got to the parking lot, he was assaulted by a group of armed men who wanted access to their safe. They did not believe that he didn’t have the code memorized. Gunfire across the street distracted Eugenio's attackers while he was unzipping his hoodie and he was able to break free, but not before getting hit in the head by one of the men.
For the next three hours, they watched together in horror as hundreds and hundreds of people broke in and looted their building. Not only did they steal 95% of their merchandise, but they ransacked all of the rooms including the back office and storage room.
When they finally reached 911, after multiple failed attempts, they were told that police were not responding to looting and there was nothing they could do. Later that night they watched as a swat team cleared their building room by room, but not before almost everything was destroyed.
The next morning, after just a few hours of restless sleep, they were unable to find anyone to install enough plywood to board up all of their glass walls due to high demand in the area. They finally found a company who had enough wood to cover just the broken glass, but at an exorbitant cost.
The National Guard has been stationed directly in front of their shopping complex off and on since the weekend.
IMMEDIATE USE OF FUNDS:
- Provide Eugenio and Anna with lodging for the entire time it will take to assess and repair damage, as LA is not their primary residence.
- Replace broken glass windows and doors and secure the store.
- Replace office equipment, including stolen computers.
- Pay back businesses for stolen product, most of which are small businesses like theirs and not large corporations.
- Purchase new inventory for online store.
- Rehire staff that was let go due to the Covid-19 closure.
ABOUT THE STORE:
Please read their company statement here.
Learn more about store opening by watching this interview.
Read more about the company's Los Angeles expansion in LA Weekly.
We wanted to organize this for Eugenio and Anna because they are two of the hardest working, caring and generous people we know. They first dated in middle school and recently had to delay their wedding due to the coronavirus. Let's support them in their time of need.
Anything you can give to help them and their team is much appreciated. No donation is too small and please share their story.
Indra and Angela
PS - Here is Eugenio, Anna, their dog (Chief Happiness Officer) Oliver, Indra and family at their store opening in May 2019.