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Sanford stores, restaurants see uptick in business due to Zimmerman trial

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SANFORD, Fla. - The Seminole County Sheriff's Office and Sanford police said they haven't had any trouble with the public due to the trial.

It's welcome news to Sanford police chief Cecil Smith, who took the job two months ago.

Channel 9 spoke to the chief Monday after he sat in on opening statements.

It's relatively quiet in Sanford. A police presence could be seen throughout downtown Monday, but they haven't had to do much to keep the peace, even with everything happening across town.

As opening statements in the George Zimmerman trial began across town, downtown Sanford shop owners were opening for the day.

It's business as usual, and business is good.

"It does draw people here for the attention to see what's going on," Evan Godfrey, owner of Christo's restaurant said.

Since jury selection started two weeks ago Monday, restaurants and stores in historic downtown have actually seen an increase in patrons.

"I know there's people who are a little bit concerned about it. I think we're going to be OK. It's brought business to town, the restaurants are doing great, we're doing good," said Heidi Plummer with Park Avenue Popcorn.

It's a stark contrast to a year ago when rallies rocked the city.

Smith spent Monday inside the courtroom representing the agency that was the center of the case's controversy.

"The sheriff and I made the decision that it would be a good showing for us to be here during opening statements to get an idea of the direction the court case is going to go in," Smith said.

Many of the witnesses expected to take the stand are Smith's staff.

Smith said the rest are on duty to keep Sanford peaceful.

"That's the goal. The idea is that we're going to continue to have the city open and continue to do the things that are important for the community," Smith said.