Business / Economy

Businesses hurt by fire contemplate their future

Owners speak of losses and moving forward.

Uncertainty looms for local businesses affected by the July 12 fire on San Benito Street in downtown Hollister. Mary’s Flowers and Su Casita Multiservicios are taking different paths to deal with the damage to their businesses. 

Yaneth Solis, co-owner of Mary’s Flowers along with her mother Maria Soto, said while the flower shop was already struggling with sales because COVID-19 business restrictions didn’t allow them to reopen, the fire might force her to return to selling flowers on the streets or online.

“No sabemos si vamos a continuar o lo vamos a dejar,” Solis said. (We don’t know if we’ll continue or if we’ll leave it.)

Mary’s Flowers, located at 443 San Benito Street, was not open on Sunday, Solis said. The shop has been at that address since May 2019.

Solis said she was notified of a downtown fire by a friend, but was not immediately told that her business was affected. She said there was about $35,000 worth of equipment and supplies in the shop. 

However, because the Hollister Fire Department has not allowed her access to her business, she does not know how much her damage was done.

“Es triste ver como nuestros sueños se queman,” Solis said. (It’s sad to see our dreams burn.)

Patricia Castro, owner of Su Casita Multiservicios, isn’t spending any time speculating about her future. She is set on moving forward with her business, but at another location. 

“Para mi no es el final. Para mi es el comienzo de algo nuevo, de algo mejor,” Castro said. “Siempre he confiado cuando algo pasa es por alguna razón. Y pues, los planes de dios son mejores que los míos.” (It’s not the end for me. It’s the beginning of something new, of something better. I have always had faith that things happen for a reason. And, well, God’s plans are better than mine.)

Castro had been managing the business at 439 San Benito Street for 12 years. Services included packaging, check-cashing and travel services. The highest demand, however, was wiring money to Mexico. She said she lost about $100,000 in equipment in the fire. 

Although Castro expected her business to slow down as the pandemic took hold, customers continued to send money abroad.

“Teníamos muchos clientes,” Castro said. “Gracias a dios la gente siempre necesita mandar dinero a México. Aunque sea poquito mandan.” (We had a lot of clients. Thank God people always need to send money to Mexico. Even if it’s a little.)

Castro said her business closed at 2 p.m. on the day of the fire, and her employees left around 2:30 p.m. At 3:19 she got a fire alarm notice via email; she said it was also sent to the Hollister Fire Department.

Castro said she was fined $100 when the HFD responded to a false alarm at her business two years ago. She said she tried to fan off the smoke from the alarm before the fire department was called, but they showed up right away, even without a call. 

“En menos de un minuto llegaron conmigo por que estan aqui en la vuelta,” Castro said. (In less than a minute they got there because they are around the corner.)

That experience prompted her to question whether the barricades that block San Benito Street between Fourth and South streets during the weekend for outdoor dining delayed the fire department’s response on July 12. 

“Tengo entendido, yo no se si sea verdad o no, yo no estaba aquí cuando me avisaron, creo que dicen que duraron hasta una hora para poder accesar porque la calle estaba completamente bloqueada.” (My understanding, I don’t know if it’s true or not as I wasn’t there when I was notified, but I believe they are saying that it took them up to an hour to get access because the street was completely blocked with barricades.)

HFD did not respond to requests for comment. 

 

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Noe Magaña

Noe Magaña is a BenitoLink reporter. He also experiments with videography and photography. A San Benito High School alumnus with a bachelor's in journalism from San Jose State and a Liberal Arts Associate's Degree from Gavilan College. Noe also attended San Jose City College and was the managing editor for the City College Times, the school's newspaper. He also was a reporter and later a copy editor for San Jose State's Spartan Daily.