Shooting disrupts lives, business - The Explorer: Pima Pinal

Shooting disrupts lives, business

Shopping center closure left businesses in limbo

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Posted: Wednesday, January 12, 2011 12:00 am | Updated: 8:23 am, Thu Mar 24, 2011.

The normally bustling shopping center at the southeast corner of Ina and Oracle roads remained strangely quiet Monday morning following the attempted assassination of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords there two days prior.

Few customers ventured to the site of the shooting where six people were killed and another 14 injured when an assailant opened fire on a crowd gathered to see the congresswoman.

In addition to the loss of life that has scarred the family and friends of the victims, businesses in the Safeway shopping center have suffered with lost revenues and emotional toll on their staff. Stores were locked down during the initial stages of the investigation Saturday, leaving employees unable to leave until given the go-ahead by law enforcement.

“We’re taking care of our employees,” said Chris Elliott, district manager for Walgreens.

The store stands next to the supermarket where Giffords and the other victims were shot.

According to Elliott, the company brought in grief counselors for the employees who might be traumatized by the shooting and its aftermath.

“We had several employees go and help out,” Elliot said, adding that a pharmacist aided with CPR.

The store reopened Monday at 7 a.m. Elliott said the employees who were unable to work because of the forced closure would be compensated.

Other stores lost out on considerable business as a result of the shooting that caused law enforcement agencies to cordon off the entire parking lot and close all the stores.

Casas Adobes Flower Shop was unable to provide many customers with the arrangements they had ordered.

“All the kids going to the prom couldn’t get their flowers,” said Sarah Swiss, who works at the shop.

A local high school held a winter formal dance Saturday night and Casas Adobes Flower Shop had numerous orders for corsages.

Shop owner Mike Cox said the flower store was able to fulfill other orders through a second location he owns.

The impact of lost business was lessened because much of his business is conducted over the phone or on the Internet. He worried that other stores in the shopping center may have felt a worse hit, particularly the restaurants nearby.

“We closed for two days,” said Alan Lopez, manager of the La Salsa Mexican restaurant.

The restaurant planned to open Monday after the unexpected hiatus, but employees would likely take a hit.

“The employees lost hours,” Lopez said.

The restaurant did briefly open for a few hours Saturday evening, Lopez said, when emergency workers asked if La Salsa would provide food for hungry first responders.

Cox said he feared the incident would have a lasting impact not only on the lives of those directly affected but also the viability of the shopping center.

“This is going to carry a stigma, it won’t be good,” he said.

The Safeway store remained closed Monday and Tuesday as law enforcement continued to scour the area for evidence.

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