BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)- When Stefan Coker pulled up to his gourmet popcorn shop What’s Pop-In on the West Side Sunday, what he saw left him in shock.
“I mean it’s discouraging, it’s always upsetting. I’m really trying to do great things in this community.”
Both windows were smashed and glass spilled out onto the sidewalk and into the shop. Coker says he has no idea who could’ve done this or why and it’s a tough setback for a local niche shop in the middle of a pandemic.
“We talk about the hustle and the grind and what it really takes to be a successful business, let alone a business on the West Side, let alone a small business. This isn’t a game to us this is our lively hood.”
That’s when the City of Good Neighbors sprang into action. Just 24-hours later, community leader Jamil Crews started a GoFundMe to help raise money for repairs.
“The goal for the GoFundMe we put together is for $5,000 and it’s to help him get the resources he needs to rebuild over here, but also to put the proper security measures in place so that something like this doesn’t happen again,” Crews said. “We’re in the midst of a pandemic, it’s a lot of economic uncertainty happening for a lot of people and the last thing anyone wants is to have to use their resources for a senseless act of vandalism.”
The community is rallying behind What’s Pop-in, after the West Side business was vandalized yesterday. Hear from the owner who says he was overwhelmed with gratitude by the support and learn how you can help on @news4buffalo . #SmallBusiness @JamilCrews pic.twitter.com/885zpbxKKn— Kelly Khatib (@KellyKhatibtv) January 11, 2021
Coker says he’s also received almost 300 orders since the incident and Buffalove Development came in and helped with clean up.
“They were here before me. They were cleaning up and getting the windows boarded up. They really believe in the vision and they believe in us and what we’re trying to accomplish and I appreciate that.”
A Buffalo kid at heart, Stoker says despite the senseless act, he was touched by the way the city came together to help see him through.
“Honestly I just thank everybody. Anybody who has taken the time to reach out to me and show that support, I truly am overwhelmed by it.”
Stoker says they will continue with normal business hours at 418 W Ferry St, this coming Friday and Saturday from 12 p.m.- 7 p.m. You can donate to the GoFundMe here.
Kelly Khatib is a digital reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here.