actorartathleteauthorbizcrimecrosspostcustomerservicedirectoredufoodgaminghealthjournalistmedicalmilmodpostmunimusicnewsworthynonprofitotherphilpolretailscispecialisedspecializedtechtourismtravelunique

IamA the owner of Beauty Town Plus, located in Ferguson, MO. We were looted three times then our store burned down last week AMA

Dec 5th 2014 by beautytownstl • 35 Questions • 3083 Points

Hello, my name is Ellen Kim.

I am the owner of Beauty Town Plus, a beauty supply store located on 9163 W Florissant Ave, Ferguson, MO.

Our store was looted three times during the initial rioting and then burned down last week. We lost everything in the fire, and our insurance covers less than a fourth of the damages.

My son is helping me type and set up this AMA as he is better with computers and English.

More details (and proof) can be found on our gofundme page:

http://www.gofundme.com/beautytown

Please spread the word, my family lost our only income and we spent most of our savings rebuilding the store after the initial looting.

Imgur album of damages:

http://imgur.com/a/9Bll3#0

Thank you and please AMA

Q:

If you could say one thing to the looters, what would it be?

A:

I want justice too.


Q:

Were any of the people who looted and burned your store caught/arrested?

A:

We don't know, we are too busy taking care of our finances and paperwork to keep up on things like that.

We have had policemen drop off packs of rain-soaked hair. Apparently looters just threw away a lot of our products in back alleys.


Q:

Yoon-oh! This is Steve J from high school (not sure if you remember me), and I'm really sorry for what happened to your store:

Have you been contacted by any media, local or national, concerning the damages that occurred to your store? If so, how did they handle the reporting/interviewing when talking with your family?

A:

Son here, hi Steve.

There are a few videos of our store online somewhere, I believe.

The media was all over the area following the rioting. My parents declined pretty much all interviews as their English isn't the greatest. I think we were covered by Korean newspapers as well.


Q:

How does damage like this work with your insurance? I mean you can't help where your store is located and who targeted what stores.

A:

We have insurance, however it will take time to file and process the claim. Even then we lost around $500,000 in inventory, but our policy only covers $120,000.


Q:

Jesus christ, this makes me so angry. I honestly assumed insurance took care of everything.

A:

You get what you pay for and our policy is from when we started our store, we were basically broke so we had to go with the cheapest.


Q:

Have you made any contact with regular customers?

A:

Ten years and yes, they were all very supportive.


Q:

How long had the store been in business? Had it been robbed/looted before this year?

Were you or your family injured during the lootings? Did they happen during a time when the store was not occupied?

A:

We had been in business for a decade. We've been broken into 3 times total before the rioting. Each time our alarm system went off and the police showed within minutes.

No one was injured, we closed early before anything started.


Q:

First off, is there anything someone can do to help your situation in any way besides a donation (not living close either)? Do you think the government should have acted differently than it did or does now?

I sincerely wish you and your parents the best of luck, health and patience in rebuilding your store, and hope that your future holds only good things for your store and family.

A:

Spreading the word about our gofundme would be plenty.

I think the government tried their best, we're all human. I support the use of body cameras on policemen, there really is no reason not to in my mind.


Q:

Are you Korean? What was the most popular item that people stole? Why do you think your business was a target?

A:

Yes, I am a first-generation Korean immigrant.

Mostly packs of hair, they range from $10 for the cheapest, shortest stuff and up to $150 for a package of 24" Goddess Gold


Q:

ㅠㅠ 타지에서 많이 힘드시겠어요... 힘내세요 ㅠㅠ

A:

감사합니다. 힘낼께요!


Q:

translation?

A:

Son here:

Direct:

:'( Because burned many takes much strength I think... Give strength :'(

Thank you. Will give strength!

Translated:

:'( It must be so hard because of the fire... Hang in there :'(

Thank you. I will.


Q:
  1. what will the $30,000 go toward?

  2. Has the local community helped with clean-up or rebuilding?

A:

1) Mostly living expense and my younger son's college tuition.

2) Many offered to help and gave their condolences in person. The community cleaned up outside of our store after the looting. We declined help in the interior because we had to sort the salvageable merchandise from the unsalvagable.


Q:

First off, I just want to say I am very sorry for your loss. It's terrible that a small business like Beauty Town Plus (or any business, really) was targeted in such a manner. I truly hope you get all of the support that you and your family deserve over the next few months. That all being said, I do have a few questions:

Why do you want to return to Ferguson, after everything that has happened? Do you still feel like a part of the community?

A:

Honestly, Ferguson was a good neighborhood before the shooting happened. We feel that we owe it to our customers to reopen, they showed us a lot of compassion in the time we were reopened.


Q:

Do you have any plans to improve security in the future? I remember that after the 92 riots in LA many korean store owners redesigned their stores so that they are easier to lock down and defend.

A:

The structure is up to the landlord. After the initial looting we asked for permission to fully block off the frosted glass windows in the pictures which are on the side of the store. They said no, but after they broke in again we did it anyway. We also asked for tamperproof glass, but they told us we'd have to pay for upgrading the glass and we don't have that kind of money.

Son here: The LA riots were a different scenario, the entire neighborhood was ethnically unified and most owners were 1st-gen Korean immigrant, which meant that they had most likely done 3 years of mandatory service in Korea. St. Louis doesn't have a Korean population large enough to do the same. There's a difference between having a borderline militia at your back and a dad and son with a couple of guns.


Q:

Do you have any resentment against those who have done this to your shop?

A:

They took my family's only income. I can't understand why anyone would do that. More than resentment, I'm sad.


Q:

What types of rebuilding efforts will be made for the businesses that were burnt to the ground? Will you be accepting free labor in the building process? I've got a few friends who would love to help as long as you don't mind a couple undergraduates with DSLR's sleeping in your parking lot.

I'm sorry for the ignorance of those people who have robbed you of more than material, but I would love to help make up for their idiocy.

A:

Our landlord has to first make the decision to rebuild the property or not. If he rebuilds we will move back in. Hopefully by then the trouble will have settled down and W Florissant will be back to being the bustling street it used to be.

As far as labor goes, we aren't that far in the process and if we were to accept your offer, you'd be welcome to sleep at our home.


Q:

I'm so sorry for your losses. You must feel so sad right now.

When the police responded to your calls in the past, and during the riots, did they treat you well? Did you feel respected by them?

What are your thoughts on how Ferguson can rebuild now - not just its shops, but a feeling of community?

A:

The police were very professional with us and quick to respond before the riots.

When the looting started, our security company called us to alert us of a break in and that the police issued an advisory to stay out of the area. The company called us again saying calls to the police station weren't going through. All in all, it took the police 6 hours to arrive the first time.


Q:

If you had the means, would you have attempted to defend your store ala the Korean shop owners during the San Fransisco LA(I'm an idiot) riots?

A:

Son here. If I'd known the store was going to be burned down, I would have driven down from my place with my rifle and stood in front of the store. My parents bought a handgun after the initial looting and I'm sure my father would have stood there with me.

Also, you meant LA riots lol.


Q:

How do you feel about the way the verdict was handled? (To clarify, I mean the decision to announce at night and such. Not the verdict itself)

What is something you would like to say to the officials who made the decisions to handle it the way they did?

I'm glad that you are willing to stay in your community and rebuild, but I truly wish you didn't have to make that decision in the first place. Losing something you have worked so hard for is like mourning the death of someone close. My heart goes out to you and your family for your loss and I wish you great success in your future.

A:

I think it wouldn't have mattered how they handled the verdict. The looters were just waiting for an excuse, one way or the other.

I feel those official had to make a lot of very hard choices and I don't blame them, they are human. Part of me wonders had they released all the evidence much sooner, maybe it wouldn't have gotten as bad as it did. But I think they tried to the best of their ability.


Q:

Do you plan on pressing charges against the suspects who have been caught in connection with the looting and fire?

A:

If they are caught, we will do our part according to the law.


Q:

What is the craziest thing that has happened in your store before the looting?

A:

My husband headed over to the store during the initial and had to just watch people coming in and out with our products from the car. He didn't want to go in alone, but a news crew came up and asked to go inside with him.

While inside giving an interview, a looter tried to crawl in through a window behind them a few feet away.

EDIT: I'm sorry you said "before". We had been burgled three times in 10 years of business and the police always showed very quickly so not much was lost.


Q:

Thank you for using the proper term. Robbery vs burglary I'd say 10 percent of the non leo population knows the difference.

A:

Son here, must be all that college edumacating (paid by mom via her store).


Q:

Found you again :). same question. Did your store have the metro pcs sign on it?

A:

That was our neighbor and our family friend's store.


Q:

What businesses were near your shop? Did any of these neighboring businesses receive the amount of damages your shop did?

A:

Our entire building and the businesses in it were completely gutted by the fire. Pretty much everyone up and down the block had windows shattered or were broken into. However, we were probably one of the hardest hit.

During the initial looting, police took 6 hours to arrive. People were pulling up their cars and more or less shoveling things into them.

I believe around a dozen buildings in the city were burned down as well.


Q:

I'm having an extremely difficult time trying to understand the thought process behind those who looted from your store or any other store in your town. How can they, in good conscience, believe that it will bring about any solution to the issue at hand? I am so sorry that your store was in the crossfire of such an unnecessary act of violence and stupidity.

A:

They don't. We don't believe any of the looters were looking for justice, they just wanted to do crime scot-free.


Q:

Listening to the scanners that night, at least once the fire department was told to either pull back or not go due to random shots being fired by troublemakers. They (the cops) could not guarantee their safety. I am not defending the lack of response or saying you should be okay with it, it just added to the lunacy from my viewpoint. "They are even preventing people from providing aide with their (the looters) stupidity!"

A:

There was a firetruck pulled up to our store as we were one of the first set on fire. We hoped they'd put it out in time, and they were chainsawing into our store. But before they got any water into the building, there were pulled back due to random shots.


Q:

Will this incident cause you to consider moving somewhere else?

One the one hand, it's the community where you live. Family, friends, etc, are there.

On the other hand, that same community just removed your only source of income because they were angry at somebody else and you happened to be nearby.

A:

We will be back in the same building, if not area. We don't believe the people of Ferguson did this. The looters came down to take advantage of the situation.


Q:

I'm curious. If you don't think the people of Ferguson did this than where are the looters from? Do you believe that people from out of town did this? I know a lot of people flocked to Ferguson during that time.

A:

Ferguson was a low crime area. Most likely people from East St Louis and other crime-ridden parts of the metro area.


Q:

Are you planning to do business again in Ferguson?

A:

If the landlord chooses to rebuild the building, we plan on reopening. We owe it to our loyal customers.


Q:

Are you planning to rebuild? If so, are you staying at the same location or are you planning on going to a different location?

A:

If the landlord decides to rebuild, we will move back in.


Q:

Would you rather defend your store against 100 duck sized arsonists, or one horse sized looter?

A:

Son here, I'm pretty sure I could take down one horse sized looter. My shootymcbangbang's pretty big and looters are cowards.

A hundred balls of fire and stupidity? I dunno, I could take down maybe like 30-40 tops before the fire spreads to my clothing. Maybe if you gave me a bit of time to set up some sort of bottleneck with passive fire retardation and active fire suppression systems. Or a tank. I need more information to give you a better answer. What are the variables? I am naked? Do I get any weapons? Do they get any weapons? This is a complex question you need to follow up.


Q:

The duck sized arsonists are mostly high and/or drunk, not very good at starting fires, and half shirtless. They are uncoordinated and full of false bravado.

You may arm yourself any way you know how - if you know how to get a tank, that's allowed.

Nudity is up to you.

The duck sized arsonists are armed mostly with generic non-Bic lighters and mini-bar molotov cocktails. Some have cups of gasoline or lighter fluid bottles.

The horse sized looter has a large wooden club and switchblade. When he stands up, he's 12 feet tall and 1200 pounds. You wonder if ordinary firearms would put a dent in his cold, glassy eyes.

A:

With the looter, I only have to take down one target, less variables to control for. I'm a good shot and my rifle is chambered big enough for anything on the North American continent. However my Mosin is a 1944 Tula, so it's not the most accurate or quality, I'll likely get off a maximum of 5 quick shots before the bolt sticks and my grouping will be shit under stress.

In an urban scenario I don't think there will be much distance, so I have to make those shots count. If he gets to me, it's over. Im 5'6" and 120lbs. I've been doing stronglifts for about 5 months so I'm relatively fit, but the weight difference is too great. I'm a 1st dan in TKD and a little BJJ under my belt, but I'm no Bruce Lee.

In conclusion, if i can get 2-3 of those shots center-mass at maybe 100 yards out I'll have a chance.

As for the duck sized arsonists, I start off with a fire hose and drench as many as I can. Their wet, cheap lighters won't go off and they probably weren't boy scouts as kids so they won't know any woodland fire starting techniques. I'm assuming they're drunk enough that they just spill the gasoline on themselves, so no threat there. I borrow my friends 10/22 and pop in a 50 round drum mag. I throw a few black powder pipe bombs into the crowd and unload. If they get too close I switch to melee. Dual sabers, they were designed to be used on crowded areas like shipdecks. My back will be protected by ballistic plates and nomex layers for fireproofing duct-taped together, enough to stop even 338 Lapua.

Naked.

Fully torqued.

TL;DR with new info, I change my answer to the 100 duck-sized arsonists.

EDIT: wtf don't gild this, throw $4 at the gofundme... Still gonna check out /r/lounge tho


Q:

Were you or any of you employees in the store at all during the looting? I heard that people were holed up in the store with guns and we're shooting people trying to get in. I couldn't believe that I heard that.

A:

No, we closed early.


Q:

Are you re-opening your store at the same location?

저도 주유소 해봐서 아는데 밤에 누가 유리만 깨고 도망가도 열받는데.. 힘내시라고 밖에 할말이 없네요. 힘내시고 새해에느 좋은 일만 있으시길..

A:

지금은 건물주가 다시 지으면 들어갈 생각이예요. 나쁜일들이 많이 일어났으니 이제 좋은일들이만 남았다고 생각하고 힘낼께요. 감사합니다.


Q:

Why didn't you electrify the floors after the first time it happened?

A:

Son here: Mostly because we wanted to keep our customers. And cost. And its really hard to electrify tile.