After a devastating fire burned down the L-Town Garage on Jan. 15, customers came together to help give its owner, Jacquelyn Phillips, a chance at a fresh start. Through the crowdsourcing site, GoFundMe, the L-Town Garage now has $5550 to put towards rebuilding. Phillips was unsure about the GoFundMe, preferring to not be in the spotlight.
“I was a little hesitant on the “gofundme” but so much was uncertain, I decided to have my sister go ahead,” said Phillips in an email.
The crowdsourcing effort was led by Phillips’ sister, Christine Mohr. She spread the word about the GoFundMe page she created to L-Town’s customers and had over 40 of them give back to the shop.
“It’s amazing everyone was able to help out and contribute,” said Mohr.
GoFundMe is a way to fundraise online. The premise is simple- someone sets up a campaign and individuals are free to donate whatever they wish. Once the campaign hits its goal, the person receiving the money can transfer it to his or her bank account. It can take days or even weeks to reach a campaign goal. But in Phillips case, she exceeded her goal of $5000 in less than 24 hours.
“It was so heartwarming to see how many people wanted to help us,” said Phillips.
Jenn Stewart has been a loyal customer of Phillips for the last eight years. She was devastated to learn about the fire from Mohr.
“I had just seen everybody and the fire was on Monday,” said Stewart. “To know that it happened to such wonderful people is just heartbreaking.”
Stewart said she was happy to contribute to the GoFundMe campaign, because of the garage’s dedication to its customers. She said with a laugh that she would even personally help rebuild the shop if Phllips asked.
“It’s not just a business, it’s really like a family,” said Stewart.
That sentiment was echoed by Helene Staley, who said she wanted to give back to Phillips because of how much the garage has given back to the community.
“If I had more money, I would have given $5000,” said Staley.
Staley first started going to L-Town garage back in 2008, when Phillips and her father ran a fundraiser for the Londonderry High School Marching Band. The garage was donating the cost of an inspection sticker to the band. Staley liked that and has been going to Phillips ever since.
“They’re such a wonderful group of people,” exclaimed Staley.
Susan Battaglia also started going to Phillips because of her fundraising efforts for the band. Battaglia was more than happy to give back to the garage.
“I wanted to help and I thought my small donation could help her get back on her feet,” Battaglia said.
Phillips asked Mohr to close the campaign after it hit its goal. She explained that the insurance seemed like it would be processed quickly, so she felt there was no need to extend the campaign, although some of her customers felt it should have run longer.
“I wanted to keep it reasonable to help keep us for the short term,” said Phillips.
The money raised by the campaign will go towards “helping rebuild” the garage and be a “short-term stop gap to help with loss of income,” according to Phillips.
The remains of the building can be seen from the side of Route 28, but Phillips hopes to to be up and running as soon as she can. She wants to rebuild at her current location, and explained that she may or not open a temporary location in the meantime. She said there are “a lot of unknowns at this point.” She explained the cause of the fire was labeled an accident, most likely caused by an electrical issue.
“But you can’t wallow in it,” said Phillips. “You have to pick yourself back up and get to work, so that is what we are doing.”