On May 29, Chanel Hawk watched Black Lives Matters protests that turned into hordes of people damaging downtown Atlanta and Buckhead businesses and stealing items. Her own store RCR Luxury Boutique, a Buckhead consignment shop that resells high-end items, was one of the casualties in the destruction.
“It was just heartbreaking to me,” said Hawk, who had reopened her store just a week before the protests. “I lost my mom a few months before this and was still going through that. It’s overwhelming, it’s a lot of emotional stress. I have to restart and rebuild.”
Hawk estimated damages to her store were between $30,000 and $40,000, and at least $100,000 in inventory was stolen.
But help for Hawk and other black-owned businesses could come soon thanks in part to Atlanta Black-Owned Business Relief, an online fundraising campaign created by a group of six black women to help black-owned businesses rebuild in the wake of property damage and theft during the May 29 protests in the city. More than $250,000 has been raised to help the businesses.
Khadeeja Rayner, executive operation director over the developing organization and fundraiser, said they began the fund May 30. The idea came together after one of the black women, Key McCoy, wanted to donate to a fund geared toward helping black business owners rebuild. That’s when Rayner suggested she, McCoy, and a group of their friends start their own.
The organization is still in the process of becoming a nonprofit, but Rayner said they’re already accepting applications from black-owned businesses who need financial help recovering from the damage. Businesses seeking help can email the group at firstname.lastname@example.org to request an application.
Rayner said the organization has been in touch with 10 black-owned businesses, including Hawk’s establishment, which will receive the first grant. The amount a business receives will be based on a combination of factors, including the circumstances of other business owners.
Rayner added some businesses are in dire need because their insurance doesn’t cover everything.
“Someone could have insurance, but they may have a very big deductible they have to pay. So, we may have to help with that,” Rayner said. “Someone can probably run their business, but maybe they need expenses for a laptop that was damaged or a cash register.”
Hawk said she had personal property insurance, which protects belongings in the event of a burglary. She expects the insurance will cover some of the cost of the stolen items, but she may need assistance making repairs.
For now, Hawk is focused on her company’s rebuild. “I was going to move everything out but decided to remodel and rebrand. I’m trying to get contractors in to see what we can do to get customers back.”
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