Pandemic just one of many hurdles for Lake Street businesses

COVID-19 has put a strain on many Minnesota businesses and forced owners to make difficult decisions. 

But there are other challenges for businesses on Minneapolis' Lake Street who still can’t reopen following protests after George Floyd was killed. 

There were more than 2,000 businesses along the Lake Street corridor before COVID-19 and the unrest. Now, months later, some businesses still can’t reopen because they don’t have a physical location and others don’t have power yet. 

Lamberto Vergara, the owner of LV’s Barbershop, said he has not had power since the store next door to his caught fire, barely missing his barbershop. 

“It’s frustrating when you see everything you work so hard for go down the drain,” he told FOX 9 during an interview.  “I feel for other businesses around here because it’s been tough.” 

The pandemic is just one hurdle for businesses along Lake Street. 

“We still see a lot of businesses affected, largely by COVID-19, and hesitancy to shop on Lake Street after the uprising,” said Marie Campos with the Lake Street Council. 

The council is one of a few organizations working to help businesses by raising funds through its “We Love Lake Street” campaign. It has received more than $11 million in donations from around the world.

“We were able to give over $5 million to more than 300 businesses, many which are BIPOC owned and immigrant-owned local businesses,” Campos added. 

Grants from the Lake Street Council have helped Vergara with repairs following the fire. He has expanded to a new location in Northeast but said he and his clients are ready for him to get back to where it all began.

“A lot of them are supporting, but they really are southsiders and want to see their shop reopen in the neighborhood,” he said.