The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Storm displaces some Spotsy businesses, damages others
BY JEFF BRANSCOME
Three small businesses in a Spotsylvania County strip center near Four-Mile Fork were displaced after Sunday’s storm that destroyed the nearby Cheer Fusion All-Stars gym.
Virginia Mattress Direct & Wholesale Furniture, Battery Charge LLC and SetN Trendz Salon were deemed unsafe to occupy on Monday by Spotsylvania building inspectors. Deputy building official David Ansell said it looked like the heavy winds “just sort of peeled the roof back” from the stores in Fleming Center off U.S. 1.
Meteorologists on Monday said the damage was caused by a microburst—a straight-line blast of wind. The Cheer Fusion All-Stars gym on Fleming Street was blown apart, and two people who had been inside were still in the hospital as of Monday evening. Some of the the business owners in Fleming Center say they don’t expect to reopen for several months and will look for temporary locations.
The heavily damaged section of the small strip center was built in the 1960s, and the other stores were added later, said owner James Gardner. Penn–Mar Floor Service previously occupied much of the center, and used what became the Cheer Fusion building as a warehouse after it was built in 1989.
Ginny’s Seafood & Deli and Anytime Limousines—which are in the center’s newer property—had water damage, but their roof is intact.
Ginny Newman, who owns the seafood store, said Monday that she hopes to reopen in a couple of days. “We were very fortunate,” she said.
Kenny Blaney, owner of Anytime Limousines, said none of his vehicles were damaged, and he’s still doing business. Not all of the business owners were so lucky.
Drew Frye, 33, who owns the mattress and furniture store, said he’s already started scouting temporary locations. He said he’s glad nobody was in the store during the storm. He noted that his two young children are often there with him.
“As tough as the economy is, it’s a blow, but we’ll make it through it,” Frye said. “It’s unfortunate, but it’s fortunate we weren’t here.”
Most of his stock is in a nearby warehouse, he said, and he can continue selling on his website, vamattress.com.
Crystal Smith, who owns SetN Trendz Salon, said she also plans to move her business during the repairs.
“We have clientele that we need to take care of,” she said. “I’ve got to do something.”
Jennifer Watson and her family have been customers of Smith’s for about 10 years. They were thrilled when SetN Trendz opened about two years ago.
“Her dream came true of having this business, and it got destroyed,” Watson said.
Deborah Hawkins, who owns Battery Charge, said her family has put a lot of pride and hard work into the business, which was closed when the storm hit. Her son, Ryan Fines, who works at the battery shop, said they decorated it with model cars, old gas station signs and other memorabilia—some of which has been in the family for years. Customers appreciate the personal touch, he said.
“Sure, they come in to get a battery, but they end up spending 10, 15 minutes just talking and looking at all the decorations we have,” he said.
Fines said they may need to find a temporary location, depending on how long it’ll take to fix the strip center.
“It’s just all about rebuilding now,” he said. “That’s the only thing we can do is rebuild and move on.”
It wasn’t just the wind and rain that hurt businesses near Four-Mile Fork. Hail damaged all of the new and used vehicles parked outside the Pohanka Nissan and Hyundai dealerships, said general manager Tim Pohanka. He spent Monday meeting with insurance representatives and planning a “hail sale.”
Jeff Branscome: 540/374-5402
Staff writer Robyn Sidersky contributed to this report.