Atlanta business owner on destructive protests: We're still traumatized

Looters hit ATTOM, a popular black-owned business in Buckhead. Zola Diaz, ATTOM Concept Store Owner, and Kris Shelby, ATTOM Concept Store Manager and Curator, join Yahoo Finance’s Kristin Myers to discuss.

Video Transcript

KRISTIN MYERS: Protesters have been taking to the streets, essentially, for the last three days to protest the death of George Floyd, who died after a white police officer knelt on his neck for several minutes. Now we've seen a lot of footage of protesters taking to the streets with signs, but also looters and rioters destroying businesses.

So I want to bring in two black business owners right now. We have Zola Diaz and Kris Shelby of the ATTOM Concept Store in Atlanta. Thank you guys so much for joining us.

KRIS SHELBY: How you doing? Hello, hello, hello.

KRISTIN MYERS: I want-- thank you. So I want to start-- you guys are in the store right now. And I kind of want you to describe for us some of the destruction that you guys saw inside the store over the last couple of days.

KRIS SHELBY: Well, when we came into the store Saturday morning, I mean, the front glass of our store was completely bust open. Glass was everywhere in the store. And it was literally empty. Only thing that was in the store was glass, a couple of hammers, a couple of metal bats, and some metal pipes that were thrown through the window to open it up.

So, I mean, it was just-- it wasn't what you wanted to see as a business owner to walk in and see your store looking like that. It just looked like-- it was devastating. It was horrible.

KRISTIN MYERS: So I imagine that your store was closed for quite some time because of coronavirus. So can you talk to us how this is going to impact your business, after being closed for so long and now obviously having to deal with the destruction and even theft of some items from your store?

ZOLA DIAZ: So to be honest with you guys, we don't know yet if we're going to reopen because we-- honestly, we still are traumatized. And also they took all the inventory we have. So we don't know yet for the future.

KRIS SHELBY: Yeah, you know, June 1 was supposed to be our opening, today.

ZOLA DIAZ: Correct, yeah.

KRIS SHELBY: And because of being-- you know, we haven't been open since March 13. So it's going on three months we haven't been opening. And really, right now for all businesses, trying to get merchandise from overseas and things like that has been hard.

So we were just planning on trying to sell the things that we had in the store. And now that that's gone, it's like we really don't have nothing now. So really we've just got to just start over from the beginning.

ZOLA DIAZ: Exactly.

KRISTIN MYERS: So I know that your store is located in Buckhead in Atlanta, that neighborhood in Atlanta. What are the other businesses around you guys like? Did they face similar devastation?

And when you're talking to other business owners, what are they also telling you? Are they sharing some of those same sentiments, that they might not be able to reopen?

KRIS SHELBY: So one of our-- one of our friends-- she's also another black-owned business owner. Her store is SacDeLux. Us and her are kind in the same situation, because we were one of the only black-owned businesses in the shops. The other stores that got hit up were Jimmy Choo, Moncler, and Dior. But us and SacDeLux were the only black-owned, so--

ZOLA DIAZ: And the small places-- they were where everybody is big. Hermes, Christian Louboutin, Christian Dior, Jimmy Choo. We have only two locations. This is the second location we have. We started in Switzerland.

And that's why for us, the impact, I think, is a little bit different, versus the big name store.

KRIS SHELBY: And I hate to say it-- a lot of people are saying, you know, you guys have insurance and things like that. But it goes way deeper than just having insurance, because one thing that us here at ATTOM, we're known for-- we're known for housing some of black-owned local designers. And it's past us, because now we have to reach out to some of these designers who are locally in Atlanta, who have come out of their pockets to start their brands, who now, since we have to start over, they have to start over as well.

So you see how the ladder trickles down. It's more than just ATTOM Shop. We've given so many designers locally in the city an opportunity to have their brands in our store. And that's gone now.

KRISTIN MYERS: So talk to me about kind of what you're what you're describing right there. Obviously the two of you are black men, but you're-- and I know based on some of the tweets that I've seen and some of your Instagram posts that you obviously understand and identify with a lot of the anger that we are seeing across the country in these protests.

KRIS SHELBY: Oh, of course.

KRISTIN MYERS: But how are you guys feeling, as black men, to be in some way on the receiving end of that anger, as protesters go through and destroy some stores and some businesses?

KRIS SHELBY: Well, to be honest with you, we get it. As black men, we're angry. We're mad. We're sad. We're pissed off.

I mean, we-- it's hard to understand what's going on. We want to fight. We want to rage. But it has to be done in the right way. And I think looting and breaking into small businesses and breaking into just all businesses, which is not the solution to it.

But I get it. At the end of the day, even if we look past what's going on now, the world has been on pause for three months. And one thing back in March that I was telling my mother, I was like I truly hope that things don't go so far as money starts running out of people, as far as jobs being lost for the next couple of months, people not having no income.

Because what happens when somebody is hungry and you don't have no way to get it? You're going to go out and take it. And I think that's what's going on.

People now are hungry. People have mouths to feed. People have families to feel. So now it's kind of just take for self and take what you need.

I think that's kind of also what's leading the looting. People just don't have right now. And I get it.

So you always have to play both sides of the fence in this situation. You know you can't look at it from a standpoint of us being a business and only worrying about self, but you've got to look at the overall income of not just how we feel, but how us as the people and everybody out there feel as well.

KRISTIN MYERS: So we don't sadly have too much time left with the two of you. But you guys were mentioning just a moment ago about how there's a right way to go about this. In your minds, going forward, what is the right way?

KRIS SHELBY: The right way is we're here for the protest. Protest. We've been protesting for years. Protest. Get our voices heard.

And when it comes down to Election Day, we want everyone out there to vote. And we need the youth to be out there to vote. And we need some of the ones in our generation to talk to the youth, to let them know that there's a right way to go about all of this. And that's trying to get our voices heard.

But breaking into small businesses, this isn't going to solve anything at all.

KRISTIN MYERS: All right, Zola Diaz and Kris Shelby of ATTOM Concept Store in Atlanta, thank you guys so much for joining us.

KRIS SHELBY: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

ZOLA DIAZ: Thank you.

KRIS SHELBY: Thank you so much. And if anybody wants to help and support us, go to our Instagram page, ATTOM Shop, where we will have our GoFund page to kind of help us get things back up and rolling, so we can open it up for all of the people that have always supported us for the past few years.

KRISTIN MYERS: Absolutely. Well, good luck to you both going forward.

KRIS SHELBY: Thank you so much. You have a blessed day. Take care.