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Shoppers back on Boylston Street

Shoppers return with enthusiasm and dollars, but some costs won’t be recovered

Photos by Suzanne Kreiter/Globe Staff

Generally speaking, overeating, gulping multiple cocktails, and splurging on candy and clothes are not considered acts of civic pride.

But you would never know that walking Boylston Street these days.

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Since stores and restaurants reopened last week, eager consumers have flooded the blocks around the Marathon Monday bombings sites to join massive bar crawls, unload their wallets at lunch and dinner, and patronize retail boutiques to show solidarity with shop owners who lost tens of thousands of dollars in the wake of the attacks.

“We’ve had four amazing days,” said David Sapers, owner of Sugar Heaven, a candy store next to one of the bombing sites. “I wouldn’t say we’re struggling. I don’t think we’re struggling at all.”

This from a guy who does not have terrorism insurance to get reimbursed for more than $65,000 in lost business and wasted merchandise. Sapers is not sure where his losses will top out, or how he will cover wages lost during the shop’s 10-day closure. “It’s just good to be back in business,” he said.

Help for the businesses on Boylston has come from every conceivable angle. Landlords have promised to provide rent abatements, city officials have organized shopping tours, and lawyers are providing pro bono representation and advice on legal issues surrounding insurance coverage.

On Wednesday, the Small Business Administration will open a business recovery center at the Boston Public Library on Boylston Street, where it will offer low-interest loans of up to $2 million to businesses hurt by the bombings. At the request of Mayor Thomas M. Menino, Citizens Bank will also begin offering loans and a credit card with zero interest for six months, officials said.

Even with the flood of support, it will take months — if not years — for many businesses to fully recover. At Forum, the site of a bomb blast, the restaurant’s managers do not expect to open until mid-June, a spokeswoman said Tuesday. The restaurant’s facade was blown in by the blast, and many patrons, staff, and spectators suffered serious injuries.

Many other businesses are still tabulating losses and waiting to hear from lawyers and insurance companies about possible reimbursements.

Chuck Hajjar will provide a rent abatement to tenants of the buildings his family owns and manages near the bombings. “It’s just the right thing to do considering the circumstances,” said Hajjar, president of Hajjar Management.

For Katie Burke, the right thing to do Tuesday was to round up as many colleagues as possible for an after-work pub crawl.

Burke, a public relations manager for the marketing software company HubSpot, said she expected about 350 employees from Boston-area technology companies to turn out for the event. Another 250 people were expected to participate Tuesday night in a city-organized shopping spree at Back Bay stores, bars, and restaurants.

“These are all people who said they want to bring Boston back,” said Chloe Ryan, manager of a city program that organizes events and information for young professionals in Boston. “Tonight we just want to provide as much business as we can to the bars, restaurants, and shops that were most affected by this.”

Meg Mainzer-Cohen, president of the Back Bay Association, said those and other events have kept Boylston Street packed night and day since last week. “The retailers and restaurants are predominantly full,” she said. “And the sidewalks have double the amount of traffic.”

Still, she said, many problems remain to be worked out. A lot of restaurants and bars are struggling to get reimbursement for spoiled food, and hair salons, dentists, and other fee-for-service businesses are scrambling to make up for several days of lost business.

“A retail store can sell more sneakers, but those fee-for-service businesses cannot just increase the number of hours in a day,” Mainzer-Cohen said.

At Escape, a salon in the Prudential Center, owner Anthony Liquori said business has not fully bounced back.

“We’ve made a little bit back, but we definitely have some losses,” Liquori said, adding that he is still sorting through insurance coverage and other issues. “It’s been pretty chaotic.”

Casey Ross can be reached at cross@globe.com.
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