MISSISSAUGA — Receiving an early-morning call that your store has been robbed is every small business owner’s worst nightmare. That’s what happened this morning to Kenny Joseph, the owner of WOW Liquidation.
At 4:30 AM, Joseph got a notification from his security system that someone had broken into his home electronics and appliances store at 257 Dundas St E. He immediately rushed to WOW Liquidation to find glass shards on the ground and his inventory in disorder.
The culprit had allegedly shattered a window’s glass, leaving a large gaping hole and exposing shelf after shelf of products. According to Joseph, the perpetrator had stolen a portable washer-dryer set along with several ultrasonic humidifiers, totalling about $3000 in losses, not including repair expenses.
The shattered window of WOW Liquidation storefront (PHOTOS: Kevin Joseph)
Two hours later, at around 7:30 AM, the Peel Regional Police arrived to investigate the scene and write up a report.
The owner of WOW Liquidation, now in its third year, said that he does not plan to take further action to pursue the guilty party. “It will be like finding a needle in a haystack,” Joseph told INN24 over the phone. He was already in the process of installing a replacement glass on the storefront as we spoke.
Joseph, who has been a businessperson for the last 40 years, seemed unperturbed by the harrowing incident.
“These things happen that are beyond your control,” he said, “and you can only do the best you can to continue your business.”
“Physically, I’m okay, and nothing can steal my joy,” Joseph added, insisting that he will persevere through this misfortune.
Joseph with his grandson, Micah (PHOTO: Kevin Joseph)
About three hours after the forced entry, Kevin Joseph, the store owner’s son, took to Twitter and Instagram to voice his anger, calling out the offending party while also praising his father for exhibiting fortitude in the face of a break-in.
“To the criminals who broke into my Dad’s store this morning at 4:30 AM, just know you might have broken the glass and stole products, but you haven’t stolen his joy, his peace, his resiliency,” he wrote.
To the criminals who broke into my Dad’s store this morning at 4:30am, You broke glass/stole but you haven’t broken/stolen his Spirit. For those looking for home appliances/electronics check him out 257 Dundas St. E, Miss, ON, L5A 1W8 (647) 977-7438. He could use your support! pic.twitter.com/TfzrqX06Vj— Kevin Joseph (@kevjoseph_) December 15, 2020
The younger Joseph, an independent podcast host, asked his followers to patronize his father’s business after the incident. “He could use your support,” he wrote.
His tweet gained local traction, garnering hundreds of likes and retweets, with an outpouring of sympathy from followers and strangers alike, commiserating with the Joseph family. Twitter users echoed Kevin Joseph’s outrage at the crime, and some showed solidarity with the #shoplocal hashtag.
“Theft leaves you with such a gross, awful feeling. Glad to hear your father’s spirit is still soaring and hope this is a blessing in disguise,” one Twitter user wrote. “I’m sorry to see this has happened. So upsetting. Hope everyone is ok,” wrote another.
Kevin Joseph’s post on Instagram likewise received community support.
“Sorry your Dad had to endure this, especially when local businesses are going through so much,” an Instagram user wrote. “However, very much inspired by your father’s strength and positivity.”
Now in its third year, WOW Liquidation offers home electronics and appliances at their Mississauga location (PHOTO: Kevin Joseph)
The incident resonated with a certain Scott MacLeod, a businessman turned golfer, who had a similar experience with his retail store.
“Best wishes to your dad. As a former retail store owner, I know the sickening feeling of the alarm calls and the devastating feeling of your hard work being disrespected,” he wrote. “I’m sure your support means more than ever right now.”
The son also said that with the mandatory shuttering of the business, people with malicious intentions will target vacant mom-and-pop stores whose infrastructures are most vulnerable.
“Small business owners like my dad don’t have the benefit of robust security bars, advance camera systems,” he said. “He doesn’t have the budget, and people will take advantage of that.”
The younger Joseph speculated that the perpetrator had previously conducted reconnaissance at WOW Liquidation — perhaps posing as a customer, he assumed — to examine the store’s layout as well as its points of access and egress before breaking in this morning.
“They came to us with bad intentions, whereas they wouldn’t do that to a Walmart nor Best Buy,” he said. “When something like this happens to a Walmart, they have a whole machine behind them.”
The younger Joseph said that he wants the government to provide more financial support to small businesses and entrepreneurs during the pandemic: “Things like this are not new, but at the same time, they should not happen.”
Along with several collaborators, Kevin Joseph has compiled a Global Black-Owned Business Directory to encourage consumers to support independent, black-owned businesses during the pandemic, and especially amid the holiday season. The directory lists hundreds of local businesses, including financial consulting, media productions, food, arts, education, health, and beauty.
WOW Liquidation currently offers curbside pickup service and is working towards an online shop (PHOTO: Kevin Joseph)
Since the lockdown restrictions in Peel Region on November 23, WOW Liquidation has been operating solely on curbside pickups because in-person shopping is prohibited for non-grocery retailers. Kenny Joseph said that they are looking to pivot to e-commerce in the new year.
Despite the genuine encouragement from social media users, the Josephs do not plan on launching a crowdfunding campaign to pay for the repair costs and installation of security bars, citing that it is a time of financial hardship for everyone.
“We understand that there are a lot of people who would like to help, but we know everybody is struggling,” Kevin Joseph said.
“I would rather it be more organic and have people come here to get a product they like and could use.”