‘Chester is not business friendly’. We all remember that statement from the PPL Park brass.
On page 4 of April 18ths Daily Times you’ll see a story and mug shots of a father and son merchant who have been charged with selling counterfeit merchandise from their store just 2 blocks from Chester's City Hall. It took an entire year for agents to determine what most of us have known for over a dozen years. Brother Abdel sells knockoffs.
The DA wants us to be reminded that ‘legitimate businesses and consumers are cheated when…’ they buy knockoffs from Brother Abdel. And it took Homeland Security, the Philadelphia Commercial Trade Fraud Investigators, private investigators, Delaware County Criminal Investigation Division, and the Chester Police Department to bring down the tiny storefront in Chester’s wasteland of a business district.
Why, after all these years of selling knockoffs did all this heat come down on Brother Abdel at this time?
He’s the only business on that block that is open 7 days a week serving customers who seek a bargain. Not all his merchandise is knockoffs. All of his customers are treated with respect, and he doesn’t hesitate to ‘work with you’ if you’re short a few dollars. He keeps the area around his store clean and the inside is presentable. He employs his family. He owns the neighboring barbershop which keeps another 3 or 4 black men working.
One can only assume that others in city government knew this investigation was going on. Instead of letting it proceed to the point of Brother Abdel’s arrest, why couldn’t someone simply pull him aside and tell him ‘the gig is up’. We’ve let you sell knockoffs for over 10 years and it’s time to clean up your merchandise.
Instead of sending him to jail, why not send him to Chester's Entrepreneur Works and Widener’s Small Business Development Center where they would lead him into a legitimate business using his already proven business acumen. If you want to punish him, make him pay for their training time.
No. Here in Chester we’re not business friendly like that. We’d rather shut the brother down for something we’ve all known has been going on for a decade or more and create another empty storefront in the downtown you so eagerly want to reclaim.
I wonder if Abdel’s son who was murdered on the streets of Chester last year received as much official investigation as the take down of his store.
What’s next? Maybe the next group to go down are the barbers, beauticians, braiders, and nail techs working in Chester without a licenses. Maybe it’s the backyard mechanics. Maybe the bar owners who buy their liquor from Delaware and fill the PA labeled bottles they display behind the bar. Or maybe the Chinese restaurants that never appear to have food delivery trucks bringing in fresh merchandise.
It’s all just a hot mess.