Neighbors campaign to save threatened Crown Heights hardware store
GoFundMe Drive Needs Roughly $20K by Tuesday Deadline
Customers and neighbors are rallying to help a hardworking Crown Heights hardware store owner save his business.
Mohammed Kamara, owner and operator of American Star Hardware Store on Saint Johns Place, arrived at his shop recently to find a “for sale” sign posted on the building. Unless he can gather the funds to buy the rights to the sales contract from the property’s executor, he faces eviction from the business he has owned and operated for 20 years.
After taking the case to court, he was offered the sales contract to the building — but only if he pays the building’s taxation fines, which are about $23,400.
The community has started a fundraiser for him on GoFundMe. So far, $4,218 has been donated, and the Feb. 6 deadline is rapidly approaching.
Kamara, originally from Liberia, is the father of six children.
“All of my children grew up in the store,” he told the Brooklyn Eagle. “This has been a destiny for me. In God’s name I don’t want to lose this place. If any financial assistance is available from good Samaritans or philanthropists, I will be happy.”
Kamara offered a twist on Hillary Clinton’s comment that “it takes a village.”
He said, “It takes us to build a village. In my view, we are all like a chain link fence. Together we stand. Together we can all build a village.”
In a video posted by filmmaker Suzi Sadler on GoFundMe, Kamara says he’s been working at the store seven days a week for more than 10 years with no vacations.
“Your customers are like your partners. They help you to withstand your business and help you support your family, so when they come I cherish them,” he said.
Filmmaker Sadler, who lives in the neighborhood, told the Eagle that she became involved when a couple of her friends started the GoFundMe campaign. She visited the store one day with them in December to meet Kamara, and offered to make a short video to help tell his story.
“I wanted to do what I could to help him out,” she said. “After seeing so many small businesses get pushed out of the neighborhood, I wanted to do my part to help him keep his hardware store running in Crown Heights.”
Supporter Mary-Lynn Cesar, who stumbled upon Kamar’s plight via Instagram, says she was moved by his story.
“We constantly talk about small business owners being the backbone of America, how immigrants have helped build this country — and here’s an example of a man who is both and just needs our help so he can continue to do what he has done for the past 20 years: serve his community,” she told the Eagle.
Almost 180 people have contributed to the campaign so far, but many more are needed to meet the goal by Tuesday’s deadline.
Contributors have left messages of support on the GoFundMe website.
“Good luck! Let me know if you need any help figuring out the real estate stuff,” Elizabeth Skadden posted.
Amber Shiozaki wrote, “Good luck! We’re rooting for you!”
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