STONEVILLE, N.C.—Call it coincidence, fate or a jinx, but Mike Claybrook's tire store just can't seem to escape calamity. More than a year after his business, Claybrook Tire & Recapping Inc., was destroyed by a tornado, Mr. Claybrook watched in disbelief as a delivery truck rammed a wall of his newly rebuilt store April 6, the day after it reopened for business.
No one was hurt from the accident, which occurred during the store's lunch hour at 1 p.m. One of Mr. Claybrook's wholesalers had sent flowers to the store as a welcome back gift, but the driver of the floral truck accidentally accelerated instead of braking when he pulled up to the door.
The truck hit a support beam and caused an estimated $10,000 in damage, Mr. Claybrook said. The dealership is still haggling with its insurance company about repairing the wall because the insurer claims the contractor is charging too much for repairs, he said.
The new, seven-bay store is situated on the same lot as the former building, which was devastated when a tornado touched down in Stoneville during afternoon business hours on March 20, 1998. The storm instantly killed Mr. Claybrook's neighbor when it hurled her car against his store.
Mr. Claybrook moved his business to a temporary location in neighboring Madison and borrowed $240,000 from the Small Business Administration to rebuild his store, which had not been insured.
Mr. Claybrook sold tires and performed some tire repairs from the Madison location, but said waiting for his new Stoneville store to be built was frustrating.
``It has absolutely, without any doubt, been the most trying time I've ever lived in my life. I hope I don't have to go through anything like this again,'' he said.
Leasing another store in the meantime also posed financial burdens.
``It's been a lot of stress to keep a business going when you have to completely relocate to keep it financially solvent and rebuild...at the same time,'' Mr. Claybrook said. ``It's been extremely hard.''
Claybrook Tire will hold a grand reopening celebration after it installs its Goodyear signage, Mr. Claybrook said.
The dealership had posted about $1.3 million in annual sales, but that slipped to about $1 million in the 12 months following the tornado, Mr. Claybrook said.
Claybrook Tire carries Goodyear, Lee and Michelin tires.