LA MESA, Calif. – It’s not the line for toilet paper or the DMV. Instead, hundreds of people lined up outside Play It Again Sports on Thursday in La Mesa to buy highly sought-after free weights, smashing a previous record-high profit day for the store.
“Since the gyms were closed, we don’t have anything to work out with,” customer Balerie Sagun said. “We don’t have any dumbbells.”
Owner Dan Buxton was a little surprised at the turnout.
“A little overwhelmed but good,” Buxton said.
Part of the reason Buxton even had so much inventory is because his business has been shut down for the better part of four months.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced the shop’s doors to close in March. Then a May protest against police violence against Black Americans which began peacefully turned violent near the city’s police headquarters, spilling into a nearby shopping complex.
The store became the subject of looting by protesters, one of several in the area to experience it in the midst of a heated night sparked by the Memorial Day police killing of Minneapolis man George Floyd. In June, police arrested a 25-year-old man suspected of looting the store after photos of the incident surfaced on social media.
He also had another man approach him in the days following the riot to return some of the stolen merchandise, including several softball bats.
But in the weeks that followed, community members donated thousands of dollars to the business, even dropping off their own used equipment for the store to use as inventory.
All the assistance helped the business reopen at last on Thursday, Buxton said.
‘We’ve seen the goods and the bads,” he said. “But we’ve also seen way more good than bad and people wanted to make it clear to us that what we saw that night was not the real La Mesa.
“Everything we have seen since is the real La Mesa.”
Look at this crowd outside Play It Again sports everyone here to buy one thing. We’ll tell you what it is about n @fox5sandiego #PlayItAgainSports pic.twitter.com/KWmbf1g97e— Jeff McAdam (@JeffMcAdamTV) July 23, 2020https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js