In business since 1929, the owners of Vic’s Estate and Fine Jewelry have lived through many challenging times. But the most devastating event happened on September 12 last year when Hurricane Ike slammed into Galveston, Texas. A year later Sharon Pagan is ready to celebrate the store’s eightieth anniversary after an extensive post-Ike store renovation.
The milestone anniversary may not have occurred. Hurricane Ike, the third most destructive hurricane to ever make landfall in the United States, did significant damage to many homes and businesses in the Galveston area. But Sharon Pagan, granddaughter of the store’s founders, had significant water damage to contend with when Ike moved on from the coastal island.
"When we came back [after the storm] there was seven feet of water in the store," says Pagan. "The first floor was hit hardest with two safes lost and all of the gemological equipment destroyed."
Without electricity from mid-September to mid-November, Pagan had to pump out the water and clean up the pungent mud that caked the interior of her store. She was able to re-open the store just after Thanksgiving Day last year, with two borrowed showcases and whatever jewelry she could put in them. Pagan made it through the holidays and then concentrated on the task of a full recovery from the hurricane, starting with a massive cleaning of all of her jewelry.
The 2,500- to 3,000-square-foot store was revamped from the first floor, mezzanine and on up to the second floor. One major change was converting the second floor storage space into a small business suite. "My accountant suggested converting this into rentable office space to help bring in extra income," says Pagan.
The insurance money collected to date was used mainly to cover the expenses of the essential construction and interior design work needed to get the store functioning at pre-Ike capacity. To accommodate the workers, Pagan shut the Galveston location on June 29 for three months and opened a temporary office.
Back in the store for just over two weeks, Pagan is preparing for her store’s eightieth anniversary. The open house event on November 12 will not only mark the milestone anniversary, but also welcome back customers to the store with a new palette of colors and kickoff the holiday season with a pre-Thanksgiving Day party.
Pagan is also planning her annual Holiday Trunk Show in conjunction with the Paul Fischer Group in New York.