FERGUSON, Mo.—Sunday, Aug. 10 is a day John Zisser would like to forget.
A day following the police shooting death of Mike Brown, an 18-year-old resident of Ferguson, the owner of Ferguson-based Zisser Tire Co. Inc. sat down at home to watch the aftermath unfold on his local TV news station. What he didn’t know was that he’d be watching his own shop ransacked live on the air.
Zisser Tire’s outlet on West Florissant Avenue was one of more than a dozen businesses that suffered damages as a result of rioting and looting that followed Mr. Brown’s death.
“I was watching a different channel on all the crap that was going on. One of my employees called me and said, ‘Turn on Channel 2,’” Mr. Zisser said. “And, you know, by that time (looters) had already broken all the windows out and were dragging wheels and tires right out of the windows. They made their own doorway.”
While the store reopened Aug. 12, business was down.
Of the 14 large picture windows that made up the shop storefront, Mr. Zisser said looters broke 12 of them. Now standing in their place are several large pieces of plywood, which his wife and a passerby helped him paint.
“That project’s done. Now I’ve got a container I got to get unloaded, and we’re kind of short-handed,” he told Tire Business on Aug. 13. “All this stuff’s coming in at once.”
Mr. Zisser’s own preliminary estimate of the combined damage to his store and lost inventory is in the range of $80,000 to $100,000.
Single-piece display tires and rims were stolen from the store. Several customer vehicles in the shop also were vandalized, he said.
“One Cadillac Escalade was pretty bad,” he said. “They broke the windows out, tore the radio out of the dash—just pretty much tore it up.”
According to Mr. Zisser, the looters were in the building for approximately 30 minutes before police arrived at the scene. When law enforcement showed up, several vehicles had the keys in them and were running. Mr. Zisser said he believes looters were attempting to steal them.
He said he expects his insurance to cover all the damages, but “I don’t believe them until it’s a done deal.
“I’ve had too many times that they say, ‘Oh yeah, that’s fine. Oh, wait a minute, now, this over here says this.’ But I really have no reason to believe that they wouldn’t (cover it). They know the circumstances.”
While Mr. Zisser isn’t looking into new security measures at this time, he said he will be remodeling the showroom to make another incident less costly.
“Hopefully the insurance company’s buying the glass, but we need to raise the glass up off the floor like two or three feet and make these big windows smaller so that they’re less expensive,” he said. “They’ll actually be smaller, which will be a deterrent because they’re not going to be so easy to break out and just walk in.
“You’re gonna have to break one out and climb over the top of it,” he continued. “Plus when you break out a smaller window, it doesn’t break out as nice as a big one to make a walkway.”
Zisser Tire was founded in Ferguson in 1984 by Mr. Zisser and his father, John Zisser Sr., who died in 2007.