SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Springfield business owner abruptly closes store due to violence, safety concerns.
A Springfield business owner says she is closing up shop rather than continuing to put her staff and customers at risk.
The “In And Out-let” is near Kearney and Fulbright, just a few dozen feet away from where a man was shot and killed at a gas station last Friday.
“That was it, that was too close of a call. I don’t want that to happen to anyone who shops here, who works here. We have been threatened, we’ve been assaulted, and it’s just not worth it,” said the store owner Donna Stewart.
Stewart says she had been considering closing the store in recent weeks due to increasing criminal activity. She says the deadly shooting was the last straw.
“We had a friend working in the back and reported to us that someone was frantically trying to get in the back door, saying, ‘I hear you in there, I know you’re in there, open the door right now, open the door,’ and he said he had been shot. We’re not sure if it was the victim or the shooter at the back door,” said Stewart.
Six days later, Stewart posted on her store Facebook page notifying customers that the In And Out-let will be closing that same evening.
Stewart says she was cautious before moving in, leaving her previous location at Sunshine and West Bypass.
Over the past year, the owner tells OzarksFirst she and staff have dealt with shoplifting, threats, and assault.
Customers agree, saying they have witnessed some of the shoplifting from the store.
“Definitely, I can sympathize; they have a lot of people that shoplift here that I’ve seen,” says customer Heather Rikard.
“It’s terrible. I don’t know how they even stay open because of the troubles they’ve had,” agreed customer Laura Thompson.
“We’ve had a lot of homeless people, drug addicts. They shoot up outside in front of our customers. They come in here all cracked out. They leave needles all over by our dumpster. They use the bathroom by the dumpster. They sleep in it. They set it on fire. We had to pay for a new dumpster. They’ve broken into cars. They’ve stolen phones and purses from shoppers. It’s just too much,” says Stewart.
Despite a booming business, Stewart says that the profit is not worth her employee’s and customer’s safety.
She says she realizes many loyal customers might be panicking.
“We know that we have a lot of people that make a living off of shopping at our store and reselling. And especially during COVId time it really helped some people who lost their jobs. And we feel for those too, we’re still going to do some online sales through Marketplace or private shopping to help with that,” says Stewart.
Stewart says she is working on securing another location in Springfield, but with one year still left on her current lease, she is not sure where or how soon that will happen.
For now, she says she plans to focus on private events and her second location in El Dorado Springs.