EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) -This past May, the Diamond Flea Market was ruled a complete loss after a fire ripped through the property.
The man who allegedly started that fire, Christopher Michael Liggett has since been charged with arson.
The fire also affected several vendors who endured their own loss including one Evansville man who spent the past couple of months putting the pieces back together.
Daniel Barritt took that loss and turned it into opportunity by opening his own stand-alone store.
“I have loved this stuff since I was a little kid. So it’s just something that just, you know, I’ve always enjoyed,” said Barritt.
Barritt has made a career out of his life-long passion for toys & collectibles. He collected enough to make it his full-time job. Besides selling online, he set up shop at Diamond Flea Market. The fire though destroyed $200,000 worth of items belonging to Barritt. He did not have insurance.
“The fire started reaching our part where ours was and you can see the fire shooting out the windows, and it’s just, it was sickening,” he said.
He was also inspired to make a comeback by his customers from the flea market.
“We had a lot of phone calls and messages from kids that their parents were saying, ‘hey, we we are we our kids are devastated and they’re crying’ and it made me cry.”
“It hit hit us hard. Especially. Ronin was just shocked. The worst thing was, I think he still expected it to be there the next week, because we have been doing this every single week. And when we drove by, and he could actually see that it was razed he was he was crushed,” said Nathan Girten.
“Every time I look at it when we drive by it. Yeah, we drove by it sometimes. Just makes me sad,” said Ronin Girten.
Ronin’s dad is an artist, he decided to roll up his sleeves to help while Barritt was preparing to move to a new location.
“Nathan has helped out tremendously with the artwork on the building with signage, logos, huge, huge help,” said Barritt.
Barritt’s family also coming to the rescue by putting in long hours at the store to get it ready for its opening. His sister set up a go -fund-me which raised $7,500. Barritt says that money in addition to selling his own personal toy collection helped to, financially, get it all together.
“Daniel’s incredibly capable, but I would say this is, you know, months of work, like six, eight months of work. And he’s done it in less than two months,” said Nathan Girten.
“Tragedy can bring a blessing. And I’m looking at this as another, you know, blessing that. Maybe it’s going to reach more people and more people can be you know, enjoy and like say if we can help bring more smiles to more people,” said Barritt.
Evansville Toys & Games will open its doors on Saturday and will include special appearances as well as an artist, on site, doing personalized action figures.