The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

August 31, 2009

Basic Ingredient to rise from ashes of blaze

Electrical fire sends stock to dump

ASHTABULA — Cathy Lovas felt like quitting when she learned an electrical fire in her West 11th Street store, Basic Ingredient, would necessitate destroying every bit of stock and starting from scratch.

Unlike your typical grocery store, where boxes need only be unpacked and the contents placed on shelves, virtually every container in Basic Ingredient is filled from bulk. Amounts must be weighed, labels printed and containers filled for every item — and there are hundreds of them.

“In just one section, (candy) sprinkles, I had 1,000 containers,” Lovas said.

The fire occurred around 10:30 a.m. Aug. 20. Lovas was at the store tending to a delivery when the lights flashed and she heard a sound like a motor struggling to run. The fire was contained to the electrical panel, and nobody was hurt.

“We’re giving praise to God that no one was hurt and the building is still standing,” she said.

She originally thought that a thorough cleaning would be sufficient and get the store up and running in a few days, but then she realized the porous nature of the packaging dictated every item in the store be pitched.

“When in doubt, throw it out,” she said. “I can’t take that risk. All the containers are plastic.”

She hired a company to haul it away and was soon shocked by the sheer volume. They hauled away 5,000 pounds of food and still hadn’t taken the “big truck” load of merchandise to the dump. The financial loss is around $45,000.

One employee just stood and cried at the sight.

“I said a little piece of my heart was in each one of those containers,” she says.

Lovas bought the store as an established business, so she’s never had to take it from zero stock to full operation. She felt like locking the door, going home and cleaning her house.

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