Oregon District Businesses Struggle, Community Rallies After New Year's Weekend Fire
The smell of smoke is still present in Hicks Barber Shop and Shave Parlor in the Oregon District, after a fire New Years’ weekend broke out in the kitchen of Salar Restaurant and Lounge.
While Salar was more heavily damaged, the barbershop is one of a half dozen other businesses that were forced to close because of smoke damage. The Emporium Building, which houses the businesses, also currently has no electricity, water or heat.
Owner James Hicks opened the barbershop about four years ago through the city’s pop-up shop program.
"A lot of people know when new businesses come in. They reach out, they offer a welcome and any type of help and it's a nice tight-knit community down here," he said.
Before the fire, Hicks says he was close to completing a renovation that would have allowed his already successful business to grow. He's been told that getting back in operation could take as long as three months. The current frigid weather conditions won’t help with that.
“It’s been kinda tough reaching out to my customers letting them know what’s going on because I still have customers calling who have no idea that this has happened.”
Thanks to a close friend, Tim Minton of Centerville Barbers, Hicks will have a place to operate in until he can reopen. Other Emporium Building businesses have found temporary homes. But others, like Spice Paradise, which operates under a health department license, has no option but to remain closed.
Hicks says the Oregon community is stepping up to help the businesses affected by the fire. Blind Bob’s is holding a fundraiser on Tuesday night to help employees who are temporarily out of work. And, a gofundme account has also been set up to benefit the more than 35 people employed by Salar.