OAKLAND (KCBS) – While the primary focus of the Occupy movement has been major corporations and government, some mom and pop shops in downtown Oakland said the marches and encampments could force them out of business.
City Cup and Grille a block away from City Hall has seen a steep drop in business since demonstrators took over Frank Ogawa Plaza, leaving owner Samer al Samhouri wondering whether he can afford to stay open.
“We are down, at least 30 to 40 percent down, since Occupy moved in,” he said, making October the worst month since he opened four years ago.
KCBS’ Anna Duckworth Reports:
Samhouri said he had already been struggling for months, and for the first time has fallen behind on rent.
“I don’t know what I should do, just close down and find a job or move out of the state, or do something else,” he said.
Thirty downtown businesses met with Mayor Jean Quan on Wednesday to air their concerns about the crowds attracted by the Occupy Oakland tents pitched outside City Hall.
“We’re disappointed that the mayor didn’t take a stronger stand. The park was cleared out. It should have stayed cleared out,” said Joe Haraburda, CEO of the Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce.
Haraburda said three major lease deals were cancelled this past week by businesses wary of the uncertain situation downtown.
“We have suddenly this outpouring of anger against Wall Street and the banks. That’s casting a negative shadow over Oakland,” he said.
But at least one merchant has never known an Oakland without Occupy. Izzy Ahmed said it’s very possible the crowds at his recently opened Ole Ole Burrito Express might actually be smaller without the Wall Street protest.
Ahmed said staying open until 10 o’clock meant “quite a few customers from the protest, so it’s kind of worked out for us.”
“We’re new,” he said.
“We don’t know if it’s impacting our business or not.”
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