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“The damage is significant – if they didn’t steal it, they smashed it”

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 LA’s Melrose Avenue, was looted during riots in the US city last week.

Following the store’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 – to which TableArt fell victim.

Devastatingly for Walter, TableArt was hit hard by this looting and he watched it unfold from home.

Damage at TableArt following looting

“We had a full array of our products on display,” he told Tableware International. “This 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.”

Walter and his husband Craig watched on CCTV as looters entered the store at about 8.40pm, finally leaving at about 1.30am.

Damage to TableArt

“The damage is significant – if they didn’t steal it, they smashed it,” he says. “The 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.”

In terms of monetary impact, Walter and his team had completed a full inventory just before the looting on 30 May.

“This 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 high—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,” he says.

Thousands of dollars worth of product was destroyed

Walter says he was not anticipating the looting until the day it happened. He reveals: “When 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, it’s all ‘stuff’, and ‘stuff’ can be replaced.”

Work now begins on rebuilding TableArt

Now, the work begins to rebuild TableArt with Walter proclaiming positively: “A ‘new’ TableArt will emerge from this. Through all the work that we are going through currently, we remind ourselves to view this as an opportunity.”

Brands and customers have both reached out to him, he says. “We have had so many supportive emails and phone calls. This really means a lot.”

The focus now, Walter says, is now on rebuilding: “We have never worked harder as we work through all this. At the same time, my entire team is focused on the goal – a new TableArt that will be better than ever.”

Tableware International

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