Progress in Ferguson business recovery as painful anniversary approaches

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FERGUSON, MO (KTVI) - Businesses in Ferguson are bracing for a weekend of activities they hope will remain peaceful as the city marks the one year anniversary of the shooting death of Michael Brown.

Many are still recovering from the loss of business after last year’s unrest that included businesses being looted or set on fire.

“The doors weren’t even open, nobody was coming in, it was like slow motion traffic,” said Ronnell Burns, owner of Kritique Designs Beauty and Barber Salon.

Today, thanks in part to the healing power of time and the persuasive power of advertising, Burns said they have just opened a second location in St. Louis with the profits they are earning once again in Ferguson.

But his tremendous success may be an outlier. Other businesses have not come so far so fast.

“I think it is right to the point where it is ready to rebound, we do see construction going up in different areas and I think we are probably a year away from being right back to business as normal,” Burns said.

Ferguson’s South Florissant business corridor appears busy under the noonday sun, but on West Florissant, altitude was lost in the months following the shooting death of Michael Brown.

In some places, you can still see the scars. In other places, there is nothing left to see. But there are also plenty of businesses hanging on, and even some visible green shoots.

A barbeque restaurant and music spot called J&C’s BBQ and Blues opened in April, just a few blocks from the city’s beleaguered police station.

“It has been up and down because a lot of times at nighttime we don’t get a lot of visitors after five because they are uncertain,” said owner Jerome Jenkins.

The rebound has also been uneven at longtime businesses like Zisser Tire.

“Things are definitely trending upward for the better, but it is not anywhere near what it should be,” said owner John Zisser. “We run into these days when it is absolutely dead, so I say thank goodness for the good days between the bad ones.”

In all, the city says 30 new business licenses have been granted in Ferguson from August 2014 to June 2015.

“All we have to do is stand fast, hold on and you weather the storm,” Jenkins said. “Good things will come.”