'Every day it's getting better' for St. Paul businesses rebuilding after riots

The reopening of a Goodwill store in St. Paul's Midway neighborhood is just one of the signs of hope and resiliency after riots in May.

In total, more than 300 businesses were damaged in the City of St. Paul. It's something that Ax Man Surplus owner Jim Segal won't forget. He ended up barricading himself in the store's bathroom as rioters pushed through the Midway neighborhood in May.

"I had no idea what was going on," he says.

He had closed his store as word of the unrest on May 28 was getting closer. He went to his office to do some work when the chaos came to him.

"I heard thunderous crashing windows coming in and yelling and screaming and pounding and realizing you know I was in the wrong place at the wrong time," he says.

Police arrived and Segal got to safety but the looting would continue overnight. In all, there is $200,000 worth of damage. But the store was able to reopen last month.

"Every day it's getting better," he says. "More shops are opening; more wood is coming off the storefronts, so I’m super optimistic."

Others have a lot more work ahead. Bole Ethiopian cuisine, also along University Avenue, was destroyed by fire.

"Within minutes, the whole building was full of smoke so no one could get in and by that time the whole area was full of protests," said Bole owner Solomon Hailie.

Hailie tells us the restaurant was his wife’s dream. She did the cooking and he worked the front. They say while it’s been devastating, they’ve had lots of support.

"We left home with a heavy heart," said Hailie. "When we got there at the restaurant, that’s when we found it was really all burned down. But the neighborhood was there."

Solomon says they’ll eventually be back in some form and better than ever.

Like some other businesses, the Hailies have seen a lot of community support, including a GoFundMe for Solomon and his wife has raised over $150,000 already.

However, there are other resources too. The SBA just announced this week they have a loan program for businesses and homes that were damaged in the riots. There is an application process through the SBA.