Station fire sparks business in Glendale

DOWNTOWN — The Station fire brought surges in sales and activity to area businesses that far overshadowed any effect Michael Jackson’s funeral had on the region, managers said.

Hotels that had geared up in recent weeks for increased activity related to the pop star’s burial instead saw major boosts from the local wildfires, managers said.

Residents that fled from their homes also brought substantial fluctuations in business to stores and restaurants on Foothill Boulevard, managers said.

While the Jackson event was a let down for area hotels, reservations were still above average, managers said.

“I haven’t seen anything for Jackson,” said Grace Tanji, general manager of Embassy Suites Glendale.

But occupancy for the downtown Glendale hotel grew about 20% in recent days because many residents were looking for places to stay after being evacuated, Tanji said.

“It was because of the situation in the area,” she said.

Hilton Glendale also saw jumps in business because of the Station fire, not the Jackson event, general manager Donald Ponniah said.

Both hotels offered discounts to evacuees, they said.

“We want to be part of the community and we’re giving a very low rate,” Ponniah said.

La Crescenta restaurants and stores saw sudden jumps in business when residents descending from their evacuated hillside homes flooded into Foothill Boulevard shops.

Restaurants were the first to benefit from the evacuations, according to managers.

“Residents evacuated form their homes so we got real busy on Saturday night and also Sunday,” said Santiago Martinez, manager of Baja Fresh Mexican Grill on Foothill.

Sales jumped 25% from an average weekend, with hungry firefighters and residents looking for a dinner destination, he said.

At Orchard Supply Hardware, residents concerned about smoke have continued to stream into the store, asking about dust masks and furnace filters, assistant store manager David Kothe said.

“In actuality, those items became pretty scarce around Saturday,” Kothe said.

The store was able to rush deliver orders from a nearby location to keep up with the demand, he said.

Filters have remained popular as residents have increasingly stayed indoors with air conditioners running, he said.

“People are buying four, five, six at a time because we still have the smoke issue and it’s still raining ash even thought the fire’s not close to our store right now,” he said.

Hoses were also a popular item, but remained on shelves as the store had coincidentally replenished its stock before the fires, he said.

When the evacuation orders were lifted and residents returned to their homes after more than four days, in some cases, there was a rush for grocery stores as households attempted to replace spoiled food and stock up on necessities, managers said.

“A lot of people came back Tuesday night and a lot of people were coming back Wednesday morning so they were all stocking up on food,” said Renata Degidio, a manager at the Ralphs on Foothill Boulevard.

Families planning for the start of school also boosted sales at the store, she said.

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