Customers flowed in and out of The Hair Artist’s salon on Thursday like nothing happened.
“This is like home,” said Jeanie Brown, a customer awaiting an appointment. “When you walk in here, it feels like a home.”
The store, along with several other businesses in a small shopping center on U.S. Highway 190 in Copperas Cove, was condemned after a car crashed through one of the suites and caught fire in April. In January, the salon reopened after seven months at a temporary location.
“I just followed them,” said Nellie Hall, a regular client for the salon. “I went wherever they told me I should go.”
Recovering from a tragedy can be hard for everyone, but it can have a silver lining.
“It was just a nightmare,” said Tanja Orlando, owner of The Hair Artist. “It was a lot of blessing, too.”
Orlando’s storefront was heavily damaged by the April car accident that left the driver dead and the building damaged by fire. The windows were gone, furniture was destroyed, and the building was condemned. Her store of almost seven years was no more. But several factors, including luck, preparation and quick thinking, kept Orlando and the other stylists working. The building’s landlord, Yongok Madayag, had another space for The Hair Artist to move into in Cove. Luckily, the space was a former hair salon, so Orlando’s team was able to move in quickly.
“The main thing is, I didn’t want them to be out of business,” Madayag said. “(The accident) was completely unexpected.”
Orlando invested about $2,000 to make repairs and buy equipment for the new space. She also needed a new license to operate a salon in that location. Insurance money she received from the accident helped cover other relocating costs, including larger utility bills generated by the larger floor plan.
Orlando and the other stylists also were able to salvage some supplies and equipment from the condemned building before firefighters locked it down.
It was all about getting back to work as fast as they could, Orlando said.
Ronnie Schoepf Jr., owner of Schoepf’s Bar-B-Q in Belton with his wife, Staci, can identify with Orlando. During heavy rains in 2010, the restaurant was flooded with 2 feet of water.
“We were closed for a week or two and then we were open on a partial basis so we could get some income coming in,” said Ronnie Schoepf, recently discussing the damage his business received. “It was the most devastating thing I can ever remember in my whole life. All the people that worked for you were out of work. They don’t have a job and all the bills you have still need to be paid.”
The Schoepfs kept some employees on after the flood to help make repairs and did what they could to keep them on the payroll. They opened the restaurant pits and sold to-go items before the dining room was reopened.
“You absolutely don’t give up, especially in the restaurant business,” Ronnie Schoepf said.
In Copperas Cove, the building damaged in the accident was rebuilt in about seven months. So far, The Hair Artist is the only tenant to move back in, but Madayag is optimistic she’ll have more tenants by March.
“It was full, but now it is just them, so we have a long way to go,” Madayag said.