In business the past 13 years, Ana Maria Standish had purchased some of her items from Ella Baldwin when she closed Ella’s Hallmark and turned the business over to Ana Maria. Ella, wife of former West Jefferson mayor and longtime businessman Dale Baldwin, had operated Ella’s Hallmark for about 18 years. She and Dale took over the building in 1977, and moved their store from its former location near town hall.
There are two apartments upstairs that Dale uses for his office and a basement below. It was in one of the apartments a line running to a sink had broken, and the water pressure led to a tremendous leak that had water running down through the floor of the apartment into the store and on through the ducts into the basement, damaging the heating system along the way. There was ductwork hanging from the store ceiling when the damage was discovered.
The leak must have happened after Dale left the premises early Tuesday evening of last week, he said, and because of the snowstorm, Ana Maria did not open her store on Wednesday. Sometime that morning Dale came by to check on the store and found water standing a foot deep in places and all the accompanying damage.
Insurance has covered both Dale for damage to the building and Ana Maria for lost merchandise, but no one yet knows what will happen with the store. Dale said he will fix and replace everything, but Ana Maria doesn’t know what she will do about her business. She currently works full time with social services acting as a Spanish language translator, but she knows her customers will want her back.