Archive for Wednesday, December 19, 2001

Shop owner back at work

December 19, 2001

Still picking through the pieces of her business, Pat's Shampoo Hut and Tanning Salon owner Pat Wilson is going to do what she always has.

She's going back to work.

As of Tuesday, Wilson is now operating in a private residence at 174th Street and State Avenue until she figures out what to do next.

"It's a makeshift shop, but I had to get back to cutting hair because I didn't want to lose any customers," she said.

Wilson's customers can reach her at (913) 724-2762 for more information on her new location.

For 18 years, Wilson operated her business at the shopping center in Basehor, located at 155th Street and State Avenue. During that time, she worked 10 hours a day, sometimes more to help support the three grandchildren she raises by herself.

But that has all changed now. The shopping center was crippled by a fire that investigators say was set intentionally on Saturday, Dec.15.

Because premium rates for tanning salons are high, Wilson's business had only liability insurance.

Wilson said the fire couldn't have come at a worse time for her grandchildren, her customers or her herself.

"I don't have a New Year's Eve kind of clientele," she said. "I have Christmas dinner kind of customers.

"A lot of my customers gave tips instead of (Christmas) presents and a lot of that was used for the kids. Missing on the tips hurts Christmas presents."

Wilson said losing the store is like losing a home.

"I spent days up there, staring in disbelief," she said. "It was just like a home and 18 years go by and it's gone. It took a couple of days for it to soak in."

The destruction left by the fire could mean the city of Basehor will lose one of its oldest businesses. Wilson said it was doubtful she would return to the building.

"I don't think it is affordable for me to go back in there," she said. "I am not sure what (the owners) are going to do or how they're going to repair it. I heard they are going to make the rent real high and I can't afford that."

Although investigators said the fire was arson, Wilson said she has a hard time believing it.

"There is no way anyone could have gotten in there," Wilson said. "I know all signs point to arson but I just don't think it's possible. I just don't believe someone would jeapordize lives like that."

Although the fire has proven to be a setback, Wilson has overcome obstacles similar to this before.

In 1993, she lost her home and possessions to a flood in the city of Wolcott.

"I'm a firm believer that God watches over me and my children," she said. "When he closes a window, he opens a door."

Wilson said she wanted to thank those who have called or wished her well since the fire.

"I always realized I had a lot of friends but I wanted to say thank you to everyone for the phone calls and the supports they have given," she said.

A disaster relief fund has been set up for Wilson at Citizens Savings and Loans in Basehor. Donations can be dropped off or mailed to the bank. There is also a donation can located at the Casey's General Store.

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