Jim Stage could only watch through a phone app as surveillance cameras showed the looting and destruction of his St. Paul, Minnesota, pharmacy on May 28 during violent protests over the death of George Floyd. That night the building was burned to the ground, but, thankfully, there were no injuries.
With the more-than-100-year-old building reduced to rubble, Stage already can see God bringing good out of the situation, as customers rally behind the pharmacy.
“He gives and he takes away and he gives again,” said Stage, an evangelical Christian who purchased the pharmacy in 2014. “His ways are higher than ours. … He does care, and he’s going to take care of me, like he takes care of the sparrows, my wife — and I believe that. And he’s going to take care of my employees.”
Stage had seen protests on Snelling Avenue before, but the pharmacy had never been damaged. In the days after Floyd’s May 25 death while he was in Minneapolis police custody, peaceful protests as well as looting and burning of hundreds of businesses took place in Minneapolis and St. Paul until the National Guard was called in to quell the unrest. Protests over Floyd’s death spread to cities throughout the country this week.
Other business owners and local pastors in the Twin Cities assessed damage to their shops and communities and described the nights of violence followed by efforts to clean up. Several owners who had been opening their businesses after COVID-19 shutdowns now have been forced to close again. Bolstered by prayer and community support, they shared their hope for reopening again or rebuilding.
‘More Than a Neighborhood’
After losing computers in the fire, Stage and his 35 Lloyd’s Pharmacy employees have been working at another pharmacy he owns to rebuild their database of 8,000 customers in and outside St. Paul.
“Our customer base is so committed: They’re high-patronage loyal customers,” he said. “We know their names; we know their lives; we’ve known them for years and years and years.”
Hundreds of customers have expressed support for the pharmacy, and Stage hopes to rebuild it by next year. Forgiving the perpetrators was his first reaction, he said.
“I didn’t have any cause to not forgive them,” Stage said. “I know that’s part of healing. The first step is to forgive; now, we can start the healing process and let God do his work.”
When asked if he thinks the neighborhood near his south Minneapolis parish, St. Albert the Great, will heal quickly from extensive riot damage, Dominican Father Joseph Gillespie, the pastor, responded, “I think we will because it’s more than just a neighborhood. It really is a family and a parish, as well.”
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