Central Camera, a mainstay on Route 66 in downtown Chicago for over a century that burned during unrest in late May over the George Floyd police-brutality case, will reopen in September in a temporary store as the original is rebuilt.

Block Club Chicago had the story Tuesday:

The store at 228 S. Wabash Ave. will be next door to the original store, which was looted and burned May 30. Central Camera will operate at that location while the destroyed store at 230 S. Wabash is rebuilt, owner Don Flesch said.
He predicted the grand reopening for the store at its old location will take place in late January or February.

The opening at the temporary location will take place Sept. 1.

Flesch said insurance will rebuild the old store, plus an ongoing campaign launched by his daughter and an employee that raised another $213,000.

“It’s been unbelievable, and not because it’s money, but those messages they send, those nice people,” Flesch said. “They write things like ‘I wish I could give more but it’s only $5’ — well, hey, that’s so big for you and also so big for us. It doesn’t make a difference how much it is, it’s from the heart. Your heart is big and our heart bumps into it along [the] way.”
Though Flesch’s longtime business was destroyed, he wrote in the aftermath that “it doesn’t compare to the loss of George Floyd’s life and the countless other black lives lost.”

During the fire, Flesch said he rescued the first camera his grandfather sold when the store originally was at 31 E. Adams St. The business dates to 1899.

The business’ iconic neon sign apparently was unharmed, as it continued to shine brightly during the fire.

In the meantime, Central Camera will continue online sales and curbside tent sales from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday in front of the store at 228 S. Wabash Ave.

(Hat tip to David Clark; an image of the Central Camera sign in Chicago in 2009 by d76 via Flickr)

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