Store owner Zodrey Pickens said his store, Back In The Game Video Games and Repair, 7757 S. Cicero Ave., was burglarized early Tuesday morning hours after receiving support on social media. Credit: Back In The Game Video Games and Repair

SCOTTSDALE — A Black-owned Southwest Side game store was burglarized hours after a popular social media account promoted it to more than 180,000 followers in anticipation for the busy holiday shopping season.

Back In The Game Video Games and Repair, 7757 S. Cicero Ave., was broken into early Tuesday morning, store owner Zodrey Pickens said. Three people used bolt cutters to shatter the door of the store, ransack it and grab more than a handful of items in “about five minutes,” Pickens said. 

Pickens estimated $15,000-$20,000 worth of video games, consoles, and used phones were stolen. Police could not immediately be reached for comment.

A few hours earlier, Chicago Media Takeout posted about the store, telling followers to check it out during the holiday season. The post led to an outpouring of love and support from the community, and thousands of shares on Facebook.

It was the first time his store had been put on the map, Pickens said. He was excited for business to come after a “hard first year.”

“I wasn’t really making much money in the store. I was negative,” Pickens said. “But I was excited for Black Friday and decided not to worry about it because I knew that I could do well sells-wise that day. But this set me back. They got me good. They could have at least got me in January instead of right before Black Friday.”

When Pickens opened his store, he wanted to bring a video game store in the community “so we don’t have to drive all the way to Oak Lawn or Orland Park,” he said. The burglary, although a major loss, doesn’t change that mission, he said. 

“Old me would have been upset and negative,” Pickens said. “But it’s just materialistic things. It made me focus on the love and the support I got. People were coming to the store to check on me. People were sharing my post. And at the end of the day, there’s no price on love.”

Word of the burglary started to spread around social media, Pickens said. With each post came words of encouragement from people he didn’t know, he said. One neighbor offered to pay to have his door fixed. Another asked if they could give him a game console to sell in the store.

“My goddaughter told me that Chicago Media Takeout posted my stuff,” Pickens said. “A customer came in today and he told me he found out about me from Chance the Rapper.” 

Pickens said he’s determined to continue spreading light and positivity despite the loss.

The store’s glass door has been repaired and he still plans to open on Friday to serve customers with the little inventory he does have, he said. 

He doesn’t plan to start a GoFundMe or seek donations, he said. The best thing neighbors can do is show support by visiting his store.

“I’m excited about the future,” Pickens said. “It could have been worse. They could have destroyed more in the store or hurt me. But at the end of the day, I know God has something great in store for me.”

Credit: Back In The Game Video Games and Repair

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Atavia Reed is a reporter for Block Club Chicago, covering the Englewood, Auburn Gresham and Chatham neighborhoods. Twitter @ataviawrotethis