Jackson Ward businesses change hours after robbery

By Tara Morgan - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Two Richmond businesses have changed their store hours, not because of the holiday shopping season, but a robber who stole their sense of security.

Business owners in Jackson Ward tell NBC12 they want more police officers looking out for them. This after one had a gun put to his head.

Just over two months ago, Marty Key, opened Steady Sounds record store on West Broad. A welcome sight for other business owners wanting Jackson Ward to thrive. The honeymoon was short lived. 

"First guy came in and he had a gun, like this, up to his chest," said owner Marty Key.

As a second man kept watch. Key said the gunman walked to the back where he was. It was 6:30 last Friday evening.

"He said, 'Don't do anything stupid,'" said Key.

Key said the gunman cleaned out the cash register of about $700, stole his wallet, cell and store phone. He was forced to the ground.

"Just down here I just knelt, kneeling just waiting," said Key.

A neighbor called 911. Key wasn't hurt. But his sense of security is rattled.

"Now I'm sort of a little bit more wary especially at night of the area and I didn't feel that way a month ago," said Key.

Because of the robbery, Key changed his hours of operation. Instead of closing at 7 p.m. he now locks up at 5 p.m.  He said another business quickly followed suit. Katie Ukrop runs Quirk Gallery nearby.

"We're in a delicate situation where we want new businesses. Yeah, it's very upsetting if some body's considering leasing or opening a business in our neighborhood and everybody wants to feel safe," said Ukrop.

Ukrop said their relationship with police could be better.

"I feel like they are looking out for us but I think it's a different time of year; it's getting darker earlier. I think we're going to need some more help to keep the neighborhood safe," said Ukrop.

Ukrop said she's working on starting a merchants association so businesses can keep tabs on what's going on in the neighborhood.

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