Fund raiser set to aid Cape Coral business that suffered fire loss
A group of businesses in Arcadia are hosting a fund-raiser next Saturday to benefit the owner of a Cape Coral store that was destroyed in a fire.
On Dec. 20, an accidental electrical fire caused an estimated $200,000 in damage to Rustic Gatherings, at 4808 Cape Coral St. Owner Donna Freeman reported that it was a total loss, and the city has red-tagged the building.
Flo Rife, a friend of Freeman and the owner of Maddy’s Antiques in Arcadia, has partnered with others to raise money to help their friend get back on her feet. She noted that the merchandise in Rustic Gatherings was not insured.
“She’s a friend and she’s down and she needs help,” Rife said. “I think everybody should do that for their friends.”
She added that Freeman has had a lot on her plate lately.
“She just needs a hand right now,” Rife said.
From 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., organizers will host a silent auction with donated merchandise and a bake sale at Maddy’s Antiques, at 121 W. Oak St. There will be an antique fair going on at the same time with about 100 vendors.
“There’ll be tons of people in town, so we hope it’s going to be really busy,” she said. “Hopefully, they will be attracted to the merchandise.”
Freeman will be present at the silent auction.
“The money goes to Donna to help her rebuild her store,” Rife said.
The silent auction will include antiques and handmade items.
“And we’ll have all kinds of goodies that are homemade,” she said.
At the auction, people can outbid one another for the items.
“There’s a good chance they’re going to get a great bargain, and they’re going to help someone in Cape Coral,” Rife said.
“It’s helping a small business get back on their feet,” she said.
Organizers do not have a goal set for the fund-raiser.
“She (Freeman) told me she’s just really devastated,” Rife said, adding that Freeman indicated that she will be grateful for whatever help she receives.
Monetary donations are being accepted, as well as donated merchandise for the silent auction. Those who donate items will be entered into a raffle.
“We are talking about doing gift certificates for some of the stores, including my own,” she said.
Rife first met Freeman several years ago when Freeman had a booth in Arcadia. She frequented Rife’s shop and eventually opened her own store, the Rustic Peddler, in the Cape. The economy later forced her to close.
“This last year she opened Rustic Gatherings,” Rife said.
The primitive country store had home and gift items.
“She always felt more at home in Cape Coral,” she said.
Asked when Freeman anticipates she will rebuild, Rife explained that her friend believes that it will take four or five months. Freeman tried to find a short-term business space that she could rent in the interim with no luck.
For more information on the fund-raiser or to donate merchandise for the silent auction, contact Flo Rife at (863) 494-2500 or (863) 494-9311.