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Business Owners Debate Closing on Anniversary of Unite the Right Rally

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Many businesses are still deciding whether or not to close for the weekend Many businesses are still deciding whether or not to close for the weekend
Bashir Khelafa Bashir Khelafa
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) -

With plans to screen and limit people coming to downtown Charlottesville over the weekend of August 11 and 12, several businesses are still deciding whether to stay open or close.

Many businesses along the Downtown Mall say they plan on operating business as usual, but others say it's still too soon to tell.

“I don't want the events of last year to dictate what’s happening with the city this year," Jennifer Mowad, the owner of Cocoa and Spice, said.

Some business owners in downtown Charlottesville are still weighing the pros and cons of opening or closing their stores for the upcoming weekend.

“Typically, I would be a vendor at Fridays after Five and the City Market and both of those events have been canceled for the weekend,” Mowad said.

But, ultimately, Mowad says her store is staying open longer this weekend.

"I decided to open my doors, extend the hours, and welcome people to come here, which hopefully can help us move forward from the events that have happened,” Mowad said.

So far, only a few downtown businesses report plans to close for the weekend. Many others, though, are still deciding.

"I think the monetary aspect is important, but it should be put on the back burner,” Bashir Khelafa, the owner of Bashir’s Taverna, said.

Bashir's Taverna is one of at least 15 places planning to keep its doors open.

The restaurant was vandalized last year ahead of the KKK rally last July.

"People came in with planters and expressing their sorrow,” Khelafa said. “We live in a great community."

Khelafa says he will stay open to honor the memory of Heather Heyer, who was killed in a car attack on August 12 last year.

“If we're gonna close, it’s like betraying her memory,” Khelafa said.

Khelafa hopes the community will still come out to support businesses this weekend.

"Support the businesses that are supporting the idea,” Khelafa said. “It’s the principle, and we want to make sure that Heather didn't die in vain."

Business owners say the safety of their employees comes first, and they suggest checking the stores’ social media sites throughout the week to see if any plans change.