They made a horrendous mess, says business ownerJanice Watson believes 2011 should be a better year. “It’s got nowhere to go but up,” she said.
By: Celeste Beam, Alexandria Echo Press
Janice Watson believes 2011 should be a better year.
“It’s got nowhere to go but up,” she said.
Watson lost her husband, Garland Williams, a few months ago. The couple had been together for about 30 years.
Last Thursday, she lost her business to arson. (See related story.)
Watson, who lives in Osakis, is the owner of Off Broadway Antiques, located at the intersection of 6th Avenue and Hawthorne Street in downtown Alexandria.
Shortly after 11 p.m., she received a phone call from the Alexandria Police Department. The caller notified her that the building, her business specifically, was on fire.
“I was in bed and thought it was a dream,” she said. “But then I realized it wasn’t and thought I better get up and get dressed.”
She’s owned the business, which is a multiple dealership antique store, for about 17 years. The business moved to 201 6th Avenue East, just three years ago, she said.
Watson explained that although she owns the business, there are about 12 others who have antique merchandise for sale in the store. Each person who has antiques for sale works two days a week and they also pay to rent their space.
Watson described the merchandise as mostly men’s antiques and collectibles, which included fishing and hunting related items, tools and shaving supplies.
“We did have a little bit of everything, I guess,” said Watson. “There were some dishes and glassware, but most of the antiques were geared toward men.”
Each owner took care of his/her own inventory so it was nearly impossible for Watson to put a dollar amount on what was lost because of the blaze. “I have no idea,” she said. “Could have been $200,000. Could be more. Could be less. I don’t know how much was lost.”
Watson then added, “There was way too much damage. They [the suspects] came in, took stuff and threw gasoline all over and everything just went whoosh!”
On Monday, Watson and others were busy digging, sifting and searching through the rubble to see if anything was salvageable. However, because of the extensive damage, before they could even enter the building, someone had to inspect it to see if it was structurally sound.
“Bits and pieces were salvageable,” she said.
As for the rest of the stuff, it’s gone. And unfortunately, no one had insurance on the merchandise, according to Watson.
“Sure, the landlord had insurance on his building, but nobody’s stuff was insured,” she said, noting that it was too expensive for the insurance.
Watson called the arson unnecessary, stating that the suspects could have just stolen the merchandise and left.
“Instead, they ruined the dealers’ way of making a living, they ruined the landlord’s building and they made a mess, a horrendous mess,” Watson said. “It’s very sad. There was no reason to burn the place down.”
Although Watson is angered and saddened by what happened, her attitude and outlook is still positive. At this point, she is unsure of what will happen next. Her antiques that were salvaged from the fire are being put in storage for the time being. At some point, she may take them out, clean them up and set up shop again.
“When one door closes, one door opens,” said the optimistic Watson. “Hope springs eternal.”