LA retailer Walter Lowry is picking up the pieces after recent looting in the US city caused upwards of $100,000 damage at his store
Walter Lowry watched from the safety of his home as his store, TableArt on LAâ€™s Melrose Avenue, was looted during riots in the US city last week.
Following the storeâ€™s closure due to Covid-19, Walter and his team had restocked in preparation to reopen just days later.
Then the earth-shattering death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis Police on May 25 led to a series of Black Lives Matter protests in the US, and what followed, in some instances, was riots and looting â€“ to which TableArt fell victim.
Devastatingly for Walter, TableArt was hit hard by this looting and he watched it unfold from home.
â€œWe had a full array of our products on display,â€ he told Tableware International. â€œThis included everything from simple, everyday items, to very special, expensive items, many of which were limited editions, or one-of-a-kind pieces. We were preparing to reopen by appointment only three days later, so the showroom was fully set up for business.â€
Walter and his husband Craig watched on CCTV as looters entered the store at about 8.40pm, finally leaving at about 1.30am.
â€œThe damage is significant â€“ if they didnâ€™t steal it, they smashed it,â€ he says. â€œThe entire store is outfitted in custom cabinetry. All of this experienced significant damage and, in several cases, has been declared a total loss by our insurer.â€
In terms of monetary impact, Walter and his team had completed a full inventory just before the looting on 30 May.
â€œThis allows us to determine exactly what was lost in our showroom and from our back office. The value of the inventory that we lost is highâ€”well over $100,000. I would prefer not to try to quantify above that amount since we are still working to determine what remains in fist quality versus what we lost,â€ he says.
Walter says he was not anticipating the looting until the day it happened. He reveals: â€œWhen news channels began reporting that stores were broken into on Fairfax Avenue, and in particular, when the break-ins moved north towards Melrose Avenue, our concern was heightened. Around 8pm, the Adidas store across the street was hit. My husband Craig and I were watching all of this on the security cameras. When Adidas was hit, we braced ourselves. At 8:40pm, the front door was breached. We continued to watch the entire thing until about 1:30am. It was hard to watch, but, at the same time, I remained calm and business-like throughout. While watching, we called our insurer to file a claim, called our landlord, cancelled credit cards, etc. I did not become emotional. In the end, itâ€™s all ‘stuff’, and ‘stuff’ can be replaced.â€
Now, the work begins to rebuild TableArt with Walter proclaiming positively: â€œA â€˜newâ€™ TableArt will emerge from this. Through all the work that we are going through currently, we remind ourselves to view this as an opportunity.â€
Brands and customers have both reached out to him, he says. â€œWe have had so many supportive emails and phone calls. This really means a lot.â€
The focus now, Walter says, is now on rebuilding: â€œWe have never worked harder as we work through all this. At the same time, my entire team is focused on the goal â€“ a new TableArt that will be better than ever.â€