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ST. LOUIS – Many small business owners who believe their role in a vibrant downtown is as important as the government’s.

Alicia James said, “I don’t think the bad apples are reflective of downtown.”

Kita Shah added, “We want to keep it safe and we want to keep it clean.”

Shah has worked and lived downtown for a decade, operating Shah’s Salon on Locust. She said she’s thankful to hear the mayor’s crime plan, but thinks it also needs to address a younger crowd of troublemakers.

Shah said, “These are kids, like literally 18. We’re not against young people but they should have a curfew.”

While she can’t control outside crowds, she says she can control what happens at her front door.

She said, “Being the person that I am, I’m like you cannot stand in front of my window. Nobody wants to be greeted by you.”

She added, “I take it seriously. I don’t want to come here and see chicken wings on my stoop because you had a party.”

Alicia James is a property manager who also takes pride in her business. She laughed as she said, “My slogan is Alicia with the Keys.”

She said, “I do believe in hiring extra security for the buildings that I manage myself. We’ve done that.”

She also welcomed today’s crime initiative, saying “I definitely think the increased presence of police is going to help out with our already vibrant city.”

She added, “I’ve always enjoyed working downtown. I’ve been working in the city since I was 17. I left for a little bit and when I came back, it was just what I knew and what I loved the most. I just love downtown life.”

Shah is also one who once left and has now returned, making their motivations in business more than just a way to make money. They say it’s also their life.