CHICAGO (CBS) — It has been one week since Chicago businesses hit hard by COVID-19 faced their second challenge as looting began.
Chella Holcomb was excited to reopen after COVID-19, but on Sunday the business next door was looted and set on fire. She had to watch as the fire slowly destroyed her own.
“Right now I just see memories,” she said, looking at a wall that was once her office and bricks that were once the foundation of the business she started from scratch.
“My store was the newest place on the block, the most popping,” she said.
She was the proud owner of LuvHandles, Bronzeville’s place for balloons, party planning, flyers, and banners. Now she is dealing with the grief that comes with owning a business now destroyed and the grief that comes with being a black woman in 2020.
“Mentally, physically, financially, it’s just all a headache,” she said.
Building from nothing is nothing new for Holcomb.
“I come from the projects, so I come from nothing,” she said. “Growing up fatherless to being in a family that was low income.”
As a black woman in Bronzeville, starting her own business in the place that she was forged by fire was empowering.
“It gave a lot of people where I’m from hope that they can build businesses and do things in their community,” she said.
But then after a weekend of civil unrest that hope seemed to go up in flames overnight when her business was burned to the ground.
“Coming back to see it, it’s hurtful,” she said. “I don’t know if it was blacks. I don’t know if it was whites. It doesn’t make a difference. My culture has suffered, but I want to grow with everybody.”
With resolve like a warrior, she looked and the ashes and planned her next steps just like she has done before.
“All I can do is just work on rebuilding and moving forward. That’s all I can do,” she said.
Holcomb is one face, one story of so many local business owners going through this. She said total costs are upwards of $100,000, and it could be months to get her business back where it was.
She has a GoFundMe for those who want to help her rebuild.