Downtown Wilmington businesses preparing for the impact of protests


WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY)–Businesses across the Cape Fear have been dealing with the impacts of covid-19 for months and now they fear protests may slow down traffic even more.

Wednesday brings day four of protesting in downtown Wilmington in reaction to the death of George Floyd. On Tuesday, the Wilmington Police Department notified the Downtown Business Alliance that permits were in place to allow protesting through Saturday. That is when businesses began to prepare.

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“First and foremost we told them to not overreact, you know this is not a fire sale,”says Terry Espy the President of the Wilmington Downtown Business Alliance. “We basically told business owners to be cautious and just be prepared.”

The preparations began with the boarding up of windows in a few select businesses who say they wanted to be proactive. Shuckin Shack Oyster bar even closed their doors for a few days.

“We’re just boarding up as a precautionary measure with the protest,”says Shuckin Shack CEO Jonathan Weathington. “We understand certainly why folks are here, but when folks come in from out of town some things might get a little bit rowdy.”

Other business owners in the Cape Fear say even though they have remained open throughout the week it seems as if the foot traffic is slowing down.

“Well it’s hurt, I mean I think that not only have we had to close down early, but I think people are a little scared to even come downtown,” says Fat Tony’s Pub owner Don Shockley. “I think now people are becoming much more aware of what’s going on and just not coming around. Today was really dead.”

Shop owners say it has been a rough couple of months beginning with the coronavirus. They say they will get through it with everyone’s help, but so much is still unknown.

“This is something obviously very few of us have dealt with in our lifetime,”says Espy. “We’re used to tough times, we’re used to hurricanes. We know what we’re doing there, but all of this is pretty unpredictable.”