Hillcrest man reopens store 2 years after massive fire
Last Updated: 116 days ago
SAN DIEGO - More than two years after a massive fire destroyed his business, a Hillcrest man is starting over.
In just a few minutes, a three-alarm fire ravaged Brett Serwalt's dream.
"I could see the smoke and I thought, crap, for a year and a half I've been putting into re-inventing my business, a lot of blood sweat and tears on a total shoestring budget," he said.
The fire happened just before the biggest week of the year for Hillcrest businesses.
Serwalt said, "It was right before Pride 2011. I mean, it's just like Christmas for us. It's that important for our business."
Obelisk, a bookstore geared specifically for gays, was gone, and Serwalt thought about doing something else with the insurance money.
Then, one month later, the historic pink neon Hillcrest sign went up for auction and Serwalt bought the 25-foot, 800 pound sign made of steel and neon.
"I think this was a sign that I need to double down on Hillcrest and reinvest in this community," Serwalt said.
The sign became Serwalt's inspiration for a new store with the same name.
"I feel great. I can't believe two years I've been waiting to do this," said Serwalt.
His new store is for gay and straight customers, and Serwalt is selling unique watches, clothing and novelty items.
With the growing acceptance of the gay culture, Serwalt didn't feel he needed a gay specific store anymore.
He told 10News, "We are losing something, but it's because we're winning. We're winning the cultural war. I'd rather win the cultural war and lose my little gay bookstore than it be the old-fashioned way."
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