Belleville business owner claims mistreatment by the city -

Belleville business owner claims mistreatment by the city

(KMOV) - The owner of a Belleville furniture store feels like the city is picking on her because she caters to low income families.

Michelle Sickage, owner of Loflin Furniture and Appliance, says her business is on the brink of shutting down because of a city ordinance.

"Ever since we have been here, we have been harrassed by the city," says Sickage.

Sickage used to display items in the parking lot as a marketing tactic to bring in customers, but the city told her no.

Belleville Mayor Mark Eckert says the city received complaints about junk and debris left outside the business.

"We would just like to see the appearance of the community we are worried about lifting it up," says Eckert.

For Sickage, keeping Belleville beautiful comes at a high price. She says customers are not coming in, because they can not see what is being sold. That has led Sickage to sell her business and move back to East St. Louis, where she'll be allowed to set her products outside.

Sickage thinks the enforcement is not about a city ordinace, saying her business is being targetted because her main customer group is low-income families.

"I just believe low income people, they are targetting us because of that," she says.

Mayor Eckert does not agree, however.

"We have a lot of businesses in town who do enormous amounts of business with low income families," he says. "They follow the rules and get along no matter where they are located."

When asked if he wants to keep Loflin Furniture and Appliances in Belleville, Mayor Eckert said he wants to keep all good viable businesses in town.


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