Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Shooting Stars and Shooting Flames

I was just settled in for a night of star gazing in order to take advantage of the last night of the Perseid meteor shower and our first clear night. I had staked my claim to the bed of the truck for a great view. A couple of meteors shot overhead, and I was going to see a great show.

As I laid there in the back of the truck staring up, I heard fire truck sirens. I am out in a semi-rural area and a couple miles from a major intersection and a mile from a county highway. It is not unusual to hear sirens because of the location. There are accidents in the canyon road to Big Sky, and Interstate 90 is a about 15 miles away. This was different; the sirens got louder.

After the first truck went by, I shrugged it off as a brush fire. This is fire season in the mountains. The next fire truck sounded louder. The next fire truck sounded like it was coming from another part of the valley. Then another set of sirens sounded like they were coming from another town all together.

I drug my silly self up from the bed of the truck to take a look around to see if there was something going on. I am on a dark lane nestled between a couple hills with only a view down the lane towards the county highway. I looked down the lane and saw the neighbors light on and what appeared to be white smoke drifting down from their home. I looked harder and realized that the light was not flame, but their outside light. I decided what I thought was smoke was just a typical haze that happens in the summer.

I went back to staring at stars.

The next fire truck went by. Okay, that is enough, I went in and announced, “There is something going on, and it is big.”

It had just hit 10:00 p.m., and we flipped to the news. Our anchor was breathless while trying to tell us about breaking news.

Our news station is right down the road from us on this major county road, and as it turned out, a huge antique store that is a few doors down from them was engulfed in flames. The fact that I could see smoke, but not the flames is only due to the buildings being on the other side of the hill from me.

This antique store was huge. It was filled to the top with antiques, books, furniture and all sorts of wonderful treasures.


These photos are from their Facebook page

These photos are from the KBZK TV Facebook page. They are the station that is located close enough to have reporters walk to the scene.

The end result is a flat building, the destruction of almost all of the contents and the loss of a business. The culprit appears to be a car fire that started alongside the building where there was a small trailer and a series of popup tents for an Amish furniture shop that was also lost. They had a lot of wooden furniture outside like Adirondack chairs and swings.

As of last night, there was only a small amount of antiques and collectibles that were found among the rubble and the owner’s promise to try and start over.

However, there were 30 plus vendors who lost all of their inventory. The comment in the story that struck the hardest was that the building was insured, but the contents were not. How many of us do some sort of consignment without insurance? I know I do with my small inventory at the Gallatin Valley Mall.

Imagine if all of our hard work and collections were in a situation like this. It does not have to be a structure fire, either. It can be something as simple as a theft at an art show. It can involve a tree branch falling on our tent at an outside market. If we are not protecting our livelihood, then we work for nothing if something happens.

The antique mall fire is extreme, but any loss is still a loss.

When we operate without insurance, we absorb all of the loss ourselves. This is not just in cases where there is a fire or other disasters, this also includes product liability. Jewelry, soaps, food and other products can be the opening to a consumer' lawsuit should they decide that you are responsible for their injuries, both real and perceived.

As we would protect our assets by incorporating into an LLC, we should consider taking out a small business insurance policy on our products. Some of your business may be included in your homeowner’s insurance plan. You will need to contact your insurance company for information on the coverage you have or let them know that you have a small business at home.

There is no rule that says we must carry insurance, but as our businesses grow and we are more successful, the need to protect our interest grows.

I am including a list of interesting reading for your information.

Like all insurance, we may never need to use it, but if you had your inventory housed in a building that just burnt to the ground, you would be filing your claim right alongside the owner of the structure and not digging through rubble to salvage a coffee cup.

This fire was such a sad situation because they had so many wonderfully unique antiques in this shop. I spent hours in there on several occasions because you could not see it all, and they will be missed.


Julie and Blu