You may recall the big apartment fire at 15th and Church that heavily damaged the entire building at that corner back in February. The fire immediately shut down Church Street Market, the store that occupied the ground floor corner, despite the store itself not sustaining much damage. However the owner, Yousef Elhaj, a Palestinian immigrant who was well known around the neighborhood and was the subject of the 2011 documentary Corner Store, now says that he won't be able to reopen in this location once the building's owners make all the necessary repairs, and his insurance is only paying out a fraction of what he lost in business and inventory. To make matters worse, following the fire, looters quickly found a way into the store from the basement, and stole most of the un-damaged merchandise inside.
A GoFundMe campaign has now been set up to help Elhaj bridge the gap left by his insurance so that he can get his family back on its feet. "At least now I have a little bit, but I don't want to lose it," Elhaj says.
The sudden loss of the store is made all the more unfortunate by the fact that Elhaj had worked so long and hard to build this small business and, as told in the film, had left behind a wife and kids to come to San Francisco and try to build a better life. He was able to finally bring them here several years ago, and just months ago his wife and children also became fully naturalized US citizens.
The campaign is seeking $25,000 to help Elhaj and his family, and it's almost a quarter of the way there after two weeks. Friends and former customers are encouraged to chip in what they can.
Below, the GoFundMe plea, as well as the trailer for the 2011 documentary about Elhaj.