A weekend of riots in U.S. cities has left a number of venerable stores destroyed, damaged, or looted in their wake. In Minneapolis, where the killing of George Floyd by a police officer on Monday, May 25, set off both peaceful protests and rioting, at least two long-standing stores were impacted.
Uncle Hugo’s Science Fiction Bookstore, founded in 1974 and the oldest science fiction bookstore in the U.S., and Uncle Edgar’s Mystery Bookstore next door were both burned down on Friday night. Founder and owner Don Blyly posted on the store’s Facebook page that he was alerted to a break-in by the store’s security system about 3:30 a.m. Saturday morning, and to smoke in the building while he was on his way to the store.
Blyly described the situation as he approached the store. "Every single building on both sides of Chicago [Ave.] was blazing and dozens of people dancing around," he wrote. "As I pulled into the dentist's lot I could see that flames were leaping out the front windows of the Uncles. It looked to me like they had broken every window on the front of the Uncles and then squirted accelerant through each broken window." He attempted to enter the building from the back but was driven back by smoke.
After unsuccessfully trying to enter a nearby building to see if it could be saved, Blyly left the scene, which had its own hazards. "Since Chicago Ave. was full of dancing rioters, broken glass, and flaming debris, I went down the alley and took Lake St. home," he wrote. "There were blocks of Lake St. where every building was blazing. No sign of any cops, national guard troops, or any help."
A later post on the store’s Facebook post indicated that Blyly plans to rebuild.
A crew of friends of the store was recruited via Facebook on Saturday, the store was cleaned up, and people remained in the store overnight the last two nights to prevent further losses. "So for the moment, we're done," a post on the Facebook page said. "There are a lot of things that need to be put back into place, and it will be a little while before we can open again. But we're here and safe and once we get through this patch we will again be able to open for business."
Meanwhile, in Southern California, two comic stores of similarly early vintage both sustained damage and one lost some stock.
Geoffrey’s Hi De Ho Comics in Santa Monica, founded in 1977, sustained damage and some looting on Sunday. A friend of the store, posting on the store’s Facebook page, said he saw that the store had been broken into and some stock removed, and that a good Samaritan was standing watch, urging looters to leave the store alone. The witness left the area after shots were fired to repel looters from the Jewelry and Loan next door.
GoFundMe set up to help cover the damage and the store’s Facebook page. The front door was smashed and other damage sustained, but the security gate behind the door prevented entry into the store. The store’s original location seven blocks away on Melrose was burned to the ground. Golden Apple plans to be open for curbside pick-up Monday, as usual.
Be careful out there.