Violent crime threatens Detroit's small businesses

By Corey Williams

Associated Press

Published: Wednesday, May 16 2012 11:30 p.m. MDT

Many Detroit business owners have resorted to security measures including cash registers behind protective glass, in-house guards and locked entrances in which only certain customers are allowed in.

Some shop mangers are arming themselves. After the last holdup at the shoe store he manages, Mahdoyu got a concealed weapons permit and a handgun.

City records show there were about 33,000 licensed businesses in Detroit last year, about the same as the previous year. But that number doesn't account for the businesses that pass on having a Detroit address.

The city's violent crime convinced Wyndy Emerson to find a location outside Detroit — in the suburb of Southfield — to open her N'Finite clothing store.

"Police don't come fast enough (in Detroit)," Emerson said.

The only Detroit location she would consider is along Woodward Avenue, which she considers to be safer than most retail areas.

Other main business arteries in Detroit, which has dropped from nearly 2 million residents to slightly more than 700,000, are dealing with boarded-up storefronts and mostly empty strip malls.

Woodward is the exception.

"From a real estate development perspective (Woodward Avenue) is one of the few places where there is real momentum, where there are qualified developers who see opportunities and can make projects work," said Olga Stella, vice president of business development for the Detroit Economic Growth Corp.

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