Aggieville shops resume business in aftermath of The Dusty Bookshelf fire

Firefighters extinguish a fire inside The Dusty Bookshelf on March 2, 2017. (Emily Starkey | The Collegian)

By Riley Gates and Ashley Tercero

The Dusty Bookshelf building fire on Thursday has resulted in the indefinite closure of the bookstore, but in the aftermath of the fire, several affected Aggieville businesses have worked to move past the effects and damages.

With the smell of smoke still in the air, Varsity Donuts made an all-out effort to keep its doors open. Having no other option than to close for a few days over the weekend to make immediate repairs, the doughnut shop reopened for business on Sunday.
Tara Jackson, manager at Varsity Donuts, said they had to send all their clothing merchandise to be dry cleaned and will have to sell those products at a discounted price.

“We will have a lot of repairs to do,” Jackson said.

Additionally, the store had to throw out all their fresh products, including mass amounts of flour, sugar and other cooking products. Even the freshly-baked and frosted treats on the rack, ready to be sold the following day, had to be thrown away.

“The estimated cost to us is about $90,000,” Jackson said.

Jackson pointed out where the ceiling of Varsity Donuts will need to be repaired and said that damage was equally derived from the fire and water damage from taming the fire.

Diane Meredith, owner of Varsity Donuts, also owns The Dusty Bookshelf. Meredith said she has the entire disaster in her hands as she deals with the damages at both the destroyed bookstore as well as the doughnut shop.

The fire directly affected The Dusty Bookshelf and Varsity Donuts, but it also had indirect effects — although not quite as severe — on other businesses.

David Scott Fritchen, editor at and Powercat Illustrated, said on the morning of the fire, he had planned to come into the Powercat Illustrated offices just like every other morning.

Fritchen’s usual route to Powercat Illustrated, which is located at 1125 Moro St., has him turn left at the intersection of Moro and Manhattan Avenue, but on the morning of the fire, that route was blocked off.

“Luckily, I noticed that the entrance was blocked when I got closer, or I would’ve been in a tough situation,” Fritchen said. “I knew about the fire, but I did not know that the entrance would be blocked, and I would have to find another way to get into the office that day.”
Fritchen also added that he was concerned he would not be able to get his daily coffee — which he gets from multiple businesses in Aggieville — but soon found out that the coffee shops were not closed.

“Man, if I wasn’t able to get my coffee, I would’ve been in bad shape,” Fritchen said with a laugh. “Luckily, the Manhattan Fire Department did a good job of keeping it under control.”

The fire also indirectly affected the daily routines of students.

“The flooding that was caused from putting the fire out caused a lot of traffic throughout Aggieville,” Maggie Smith, senior in animal sciences and industry, said.

Smith said she routinely drives by The Dusty Bookshelf and stops at Starbucks. She said that even later in the day, one could see evidence of the flooding down the street.