For forty years Avraham Klein, 83, has owned his store that first specialized in batteries.
By Paul Shindman, World Israel News
The coronavirus pandemic has sapped the power from the man who brought rechargeable batteries to Israel, forcing him to close his business, Channel 11 reported Tuesday.
For 40 years, Avraham Klein, 83, has owned his store that first specialized in batteries. Known as an expert in rechargeable batteries, he brought the Duracell brand to Israel and his advice was sought by the IDF and Israel Police.
Klein survived the Holocaust, and even after his store burned down three years ago, he found a way to start over by opening an electric bike and scooter store in its place, but the economic crisis caused by the pandemic has left him no choice.
“Aside from God above and my wife below, I haven’t been afraid of anyone,” Klein said in a Channel 11 interview.
“Suddenly, some enemy comes along, you don’t see him, he attacks you and knocks you down,” Klein said.
Although electric bikes and scooters have been a popular fad in Israel and business was good, since the coronavirus pandemic hit Israel six months ago, his Tel Aviv store has been almost empty of customers.
Klein is caught in the web in which many small business owners are struggling. With his income stream choked and bills to pay, Klein has run up a 120,000 shekel ($35,000) debt with the bank that he is unable to repay.
With barely 2,000 shekels ($590) in sales in the past month, Klein is now selling everything at 50 percent off in a bid to lower his debt to the bank before closing his doors.
But even when he clears out his stock, he says he’ll still have a load of debt on his back.
On Monday, his family members posted on social media that he was forced to close and called on customers to come buy whatever they could to help him reduce his liability to the bank.
“I read the Facebook post a few hours ago and I had tears in my eyes,” said one customer who showed up on his bicycle to buy something and try to help.
At the end of August Klein will close his store for good and be forced to get by on his government pension and Holocaust survivor’s benefits, which will also have to be used to repay the bank.