“We felt like it was meant to be because the building still stood.”
For Vince and Kristina Clarkson, reopening their business after the fire all came down to returning a favor.
Older than the incorporation of Paradise itself, Hudson’s Appliance has called 454 Pearson Rd home since 1968. The building survived, and the Clarksons knew they’d return to help rebuild the town. They wanted to help the community that had supported the business for over half a century.
Today, Hudson’s is back and better than ever before. Traditional home appliances such as stoves, washers, dryers, refrigerators are still available as well as a new line of product offerings. Outdoor grills and kitchens, mattresses, jacuzzis, and patio furniture are now part of the inventory.
“We brought in that second step of rebuilding,” noted Kristina. “We did our research and made sure the previously existing furniture stores weren’t going to be returning because we didn’t want to take any business from them,” agreed Vince. “Once we knew they weren’t coming back, we knew these products were what the town needed. We wanted to make sure people building could shop more variety on the Ridge.”
Business is now back to pre-fire and pandemic levels, but getting there wasn’t a walk in Depot Park. While the fire spared the building itself, smoke and embers heavily damaged the interiors. Subsequent rainstorms flooded through holes in the roof, eventually requiring a full gutting of the building.
The Clarksons choose to look at the gold nugget lining and take the opportunity to modernize, revamp, and expand the store. “We took that time to make it what we wanted,” said Kristina.
Hudson’s reopened the Paradise location in early 2020, and customers began to return for supplies in their rebuild. Just months later, of course, the pandemic put another damper on the business. For appliance businesses, the biggest struggle became supply chain issues. Orders were delayed, and parts became more difficult to obtain. Once again, the Clarksons looked for ways to see the best in things.
“We give it 100% effort to try to figure out how to take care of our customers,” said Vince. “A great example was our ‘demo appliances’. If we had a home trying to get a final inspection, and a stove in a particular finish was on backorder, we’d temporarily substitute in a different color to help them get those families into their homes more quickly.”
Despite the challenges, the rewards are worth it. Vince and Kristina are often invited to customers’ homes or to thank you parties for helping them get back in their homes. “It’s great to know we helped that family get back into their home and be part of the community again,” said Vince.
Kristina also looks at the last few years as an opportunity to lean into new ways of supporting other businesses. “I teach my kids that no great thing comes easily. If you want to come back and be part of the community it takes work. And it’s all worth it.” She hopes that in addition to shopping locally, Paradise residents will continue to support new and returning businesses by sharing far and wide on social media and word of mouth.
“It’s so easy on social media to like and share posts and encourage neighbors and friends to shop local. You can support businesses in more areas than just buying from them. Help them expand their reach, get more business, and encourage more customers to come to their door.”
The Clarksons, both born and raised in Paradise, took over the business from Vince’s father about six years ago. Together, they manage both the main Paradise store and the satellite Chico branch. Paradise is home to them and their children, and they are proud to be part of helping the Town rebuild.
“Seeing the new schools coming in and new programs we can offer to children here – we have a lot of opportunities for children. They’re our future up here,” said Kristina.
And sometimes, that beauty is revealed in the smallest of details: “Even our mailman who comes in and gives our dog a treat is the same mailman who delivered our letters before the fire!” observed Vince. “We truly believe Paradise is going to be beautiful and fantastic again. It will be a beautiful community again.”