Boston Marathon Bombings: Stores Stay Closed as Local Business Starts Relief Fund

PHOTO: Boston Police look at blown out windows at the scene near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, April 15, 2013.Boston Globe via Getty Images
Boston Police look at blown out windows at the scene near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, April 15, 2013.

As the Boston Police keep a crime scene perimeter of about 12 blocks around Boylston Street, several businesses wait for guidance from authorities to decide when to open their doors. But the companies in the surrounding Boston area went back to work shell-shocked after two bombings hit spectators of the Boston Marathon on Monday.

"It's definitely shocking. One day you're literally parking your car right at the finish line. They shut the street down for the marathon and the next day you're happy you weren't there, to say the least," said Mark Bollman, founder of Boston-based men's brand Ball and Buck.

The company's retail store on the fashionable Newbury Street, which runs parallel to Boylston Street, near Dartmouth Street, remained closed on Tuesday.

The Boston Marathon finish line is on Boylston Street between Dartmouth and Exeter Street. His company has about 10 employees.

Bollman said city officials told him the surrounding area should be closed for up to two days. He said he hopes to open his doors by Monday. Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis III said the police decreased the crime scene area Tuesday to 12 blocks from 15 blocks.

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Bollman, who has lived in Boston since 2006, sells only products made in the U.S. The name of his company comes from a method George Washington used to load his muskets during the American Revolution.

It's a method that combined "smaller pellets to create a greater impact on a target," Bollman said.

He's using that premise to start a relief fund for the Boston Chapter of the Red Cross. He will donate 10 percent of sales at his brick and mortar store to the Red Cross and is inviting other businesses to participate.

"We could send a check ourselves. The goal would be to present a vehicle for other businesses to say, 'That's a great way to do something that's meaningful,' rather than not having to do anything at all," Bollman said.

Starting Wednesday, businesses across the country can sign up to participate on with whatever percentage they choose, and customers can see a list of those businesses. Bollman said he's asking businesses to send their designated portion of sales directly to the Red Cross in Boston.

"Anything is better than nothing. When you think about something like this and as a business in the area or across the nation, you want to do something," Bollman said. "I just want to make an easy way to hopefully make a contribution, promote awareness, get back on your feet and keep moving."

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A number of other businesses near the finish line on Boylston Street remained closed on Tuesday. One trendy restaurant in Boston said some members of its staff, guests and runners were injured by the second bomb. The restaurant, Forum, had been open for business for about a year.

A message was posted on its Facebook page, thanking customers for their "kind words, prayers and thoughts."

"Forum was ground zero as the second bomb exploded right on our patio, injuring several guests, runners and some of our staff. The images of horror and pain that some of us witnessed will be hard to forget," the Facebook post stated.

The Trader Joe's, which is a three-minute walk away from Forum, also remained closed on Tuesday. The Boston Public Library's Central Library in Copley Square was closed Tuesday but its 25 branches remain open.

Businesses that remained open tried to support their employees who were in shock.

Copley Place, a high end indoor shopping center blocks away from the explosion, opened at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, its usual time. But the mall, owned by the Simon Property Group, said "we are respectful of the wishes of any tenant that chooses not to operate today."

In a city of 625,087 people and on a state holiday, it's common to know at least one person who either ran in the marathon or was spectator on Monday.

At Communispace Corp., a consumer collaboration agency headquartered in downtown Boston, the company had three employees who ran in the marathon.

"As soon as the news broke, we started tracking our runners to find out what we could," said Jen Reddy, SVP, Global Marketing at Communispace Corp., which is headquartered in downtown Boston.

Reddy said all their runners are safe, "but it's a somber day in our office."

"It's amazing how social media became our lifeline to each other and other companies. One of our runners had just crossed the finish line and was going to get her medal when the first explosion happened," Reddy said. "She looked back, saw smoke and chaos, and ran straight to the Communispace offices to get help and try to find her family."

The company gathered Tuesday afternoon "to meet or talk or just share a moment of reflection for those we lost or who were injured yesterday," she said.

"We are a company of runners and we hope organize a walk or run to honor the injured soon," she said.

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