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Employees pack supplies at the Neighborhood Industries food distribution center. Photo via Neighborhood Industries

published on July 16, 2021 - 2:15 PM
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Ampersand Ice Cream is going the extra mile this Sunday for its once-a-month nonprofit donation after a local business suffered a warehouse fire.

The ice cream shop chooses a nonprofit every third Sunday of the month, “Sundae Sunday,” to which they normally would donate $1 from every sundae sold. This week, the ice cream shop will donate an additional 5% of all sales to Neighborhood Industries, which suffered a fire in June. Donations will go toward damage costs and getting the company up and running again. 

Neighborhood Industries operates a vintage boutique, thrift store and an electronic and textile recycling location. Its warehouse caught fire in late June. Development Director Ricky Bravo of Neighborhood Industries said he hopes to find a new warehouse by the end of the month in south Fresno after using a temporary space in the Bitwise Hive. Though the cause of the fire is still under investigation, findings are pointing to suspected arson, Bravo said. 

This month’s fundraiser falls on National Ice Cream Day, Ampersand’s busiest day of the year. Sundaes come with any trio of toppings on two scoops of ice cream.

Both Ampersand locations – 1940 E. Echo Ave. and 7010 N. Marks Ave. – will participate in the fundraiser from 12 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Donations begin at the warehouse before they are repurposed at other facilities operated by Neighborhood Industries. The warehouse lost about $100,000 in equipment – six vehicles, two forklifts and a few box trucks. It also lost about $200,000 in product, including clothing, paper, plastic and metal for its recycling business. 

“With the donations, it’s almost like we’re digging a hole but the sand keeps falling in as we’re digging,” said Bravo. 

The warehouse held two-to-three-months worth of donated goods at the time of the fire. It also served as a place of employment for 15 individuals, who have all been relocated to other sites within the company until it finds a new warehouse location. Neighborhood Industries seeks to employ those who have faced barriers in the workplace – previous incarceration, homelessness, financial hardship or impacted youth who seek to develop good habits in the workplace. 

“We’ve been pretty resilient, employment has always been our biggest focus, our biggest priority,” he said.

The community has been bringing several donations after hearing about the severe loss of the company, Bravo said. 

Neighborhood Industries has served as a collection for overflow donations or recyclable textiles from other thrift stores, extending from Modesto to Bakersfield and to the coast. 

“That was kind of why there was so much stuff,” Bravo said. 

For every day the business is closed, it loses $2,500 of revenue, he said. By the end of the month, Bravo estimates a $50,000 loss in addition to the warehouse damage costs. They have sought to raise $100,000 to get back to being fully operational. 

In addition to Ampersand, downtown restaurant Quail State and Tower District bar Fresbrew have hosted fundraisers. CalViva Health donated $20,000.

“We are grateful for the role Neighborhood Industries has played in the life of our city, and we are happy to be a part of the small-business community that has rallied behind them over the years, and especially during this recent loss,” said Amelia Bennett, co-owner of Ampersand. 

He has been encouraged to see how much of the community and businesses of all kinds have stepped up to help.  

“It’s been really humbling for sure,” he said. 

If members of the public know any information about the fire, they can contact Neighborhood Industries at (559) 498-0708.

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