• Sanford businesses suffer post-Zimmerman trial


    SANFORD, Fla. - Several businesses in Sanford said they've been suffering ever since the start of the George Zimmerman trial.

    They said business hasn't gotten any better after the verdict.

    Theo Hollerbach, owner of the Willow Tree Cafe, said business was growing over the last 12 years the café has been in the same downtown spot.

    "For the last eight weeks, six to eight weeks, we've seen a major downturn in business," Hollerbach said.

    Hollerbach said sales are down almost 10 percent.

    He said customers have been cancelling reservations ever since the start of the Zimmerman trial.

    "People are thinking the things that are happening in other areas of our country are happening in our town," Hollerbach said.

    Jeanine Taylor said her art gallery, Jeanine Taylor Folk Art, is also taking a hit.

    "Some of my customers have said that they are concerned about coming up," Taylor said.

    "It's like a ghost town," resident Bobby Brinson said.

    Brinson says ever since the shooting first happened, friends of his have refused to come to Sanford.

    "They are afraid to walk around downtown Sanford because they don't want none of that to happen to their son," Brinson said.

    The Sanford Police Department said there have been no violent incidents related to the Zimmerman trial in the city.

    "The part about being afraid to come here is kind of disturbing," Capt. Jim McAuliffe of the Sanford Police Department said.

    Business owners hope that message reaches their customers soon.

    Hollerbach said he's already had to cut employee hours and will be forced to lay off some of his staff if business continues to plummet.

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