In a riot, there are no friends

I’ve never been much interested in head shops.

As in drug paraphernalia. 

Never been a druggie — wrong generation.

My drugs were tobacco and alcohol, both legal.

At least for now.

Michael Katz, owner of soon-to-close Wonderland. (Photo: Inquirer)

My interest in the coming closing of Wonderland, near Rittenhouse Square, was just academic. I know the store because it is in my neighborhood, but had never been inside. 

The Inquirer story told me owner Michael Katz had been in business as long as I had been at the Daily News — 47 years.

But here’s the line that jumped out at me: Wonderland didn’t “recover from the pandemic and the 2020 demonstrations in Philadelphia triggered by the killing of George Floyd.”

I note the word “demonstrations,” rather than “riots.” 

There were peaceful demonstrations, but this was not one.

“Crowds broke one of Wonderland’s front windows and looted the store, tossing merchandise to the sidewalk.”

I note the word “crowds” rather than “rioters” or “looters.”

It’s all in your world view, I guess, like MSNBC’s Ali Velshi pathetic downplaying of protest as a torched building blazed behind him.  

The sad thing about Katz’s loss is that, without much question, the old hippie would have been on the same side of the rioters demonstrators.

But when you are all ginned up on righteous indignation, your friends wind up as collateral damage.

15 thoughts on “In a riot, there are no friends”

  1. It is sad that small business owners had their livelihoods destroyed in center city and 52nd Street area by peaceful demonstrators. Some of those peaceful demonstrators started building fires, lit police cars on fire and assaulted and robbed fellow looters in the Port Richmond Shopping centers. Although stealing from fellow looters was hilarious justice, it is an example of peaceful demonstrations in Philadelphia. The future does not look promising for small business owners in our city unless the political climate in our city changes. The rule of law for every citizen is the bedrock of our republic. If these so called demonstrations continue in the future we are all in trouble. Our city needs new political leadership with a management philosophy that will confront these issues.

    1. Very well stated.
      As an Interior Designer, I used to go into the city weekly, to purchase items for Clients. The current design center has moved, and honesty, I do not feel safe walking throughout center city as I did in the past. Businesses have closed since the riots and Covid. Small shops such as Wonderland, were a draw for shoppers to the city.
      It seems that city government is afraid to try to deal with the real issues.
      Maybe, calling riots what they are, and calling demonstrations what they are would be helpful. It is difficult to solve a problem that is labeled incorrectly. Just a thought Stu.

  2. In the days when my husband and I both worked in University City, we would drive past Wonderland
    every morning.
    I’ve never been in the store either, but am deeply saddened by its closing, and especially the reason behind its closing.
    In my own Northeast Philadelphia neighborhood, a number of businesses, large and small, were
    impacted by the same events. Some, but not all, recovered.
    One that did not recover and has no signs of re-opening is a carpet retailer that originally opened in 1928. I realize–more than most—that nothing lasts forever. But it didn’t have to be this way.

    Al Martin got it right. You, my friend, blew it. The law – you know, that thing that almost everyone ignores until it’s their turn in the barrel, is quite clear. By constitution, we have the right to protest. By ordinance, you need a permit. The city just let’s everyone run their own course. It doesn’t matter if its an animal lover, thinking that she knows the law or a bunch of rioters who don’t care about the law.
    We know that many of these small businesses will never recover and have since closed their doors. COVID is another story. It will be interesting to revisit this topic in five or ten years. Then, we will know just how bad riots have affected our small businesses and the people who owned them, worked them and sold their merchandise to them.

  4. Do you recall some crowds demonstrating at the Capitol about a year ago? No big deal.

      1. Oh yeah! I remember! The insurrection by those unarmed senior citizens. A day to remember like Pearl Harbor and 9/11, according to the VP.

        Philly is lucky compared to Seattle and Portland and other democrat run cities.

  5. After over 70 years, Joseph Fox Bookshop is shutting its doors for good at the end of this month. Now I read that Wonderland is closing up as well. Two of Philadelphia’s oldest retail institutions will soon be gone.

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