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Store Has Safety for Sale : Glendale Galleria's new Disaster Preparedness shop offers everything to survive quakes and other nasty events.

March 04, 1994|IRENE GARCIA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

GLENDALE — If you're looking for sturdy Velcro strips to keep your artwork from flying around during an earthquake or a special putty that holds china in place during the shaker, a trip to the Glendale Galleria might be in order.

Located on the mall's lower level, the shopping center's newest store has all that and other equipment to help survive a big temblor--or other natural catastrophes, for that matter.

It's hard to miss the Disaster Preparedness store. A yellow caution road sign that says "Be Ready Store" sits next to a large white banner with red letters that reads "Disaster Preparedness."

A window display has "Earthquake" in large orange letters and everything from a fire escape ladder to large blue barrels of drinking water, propane fuel and emergency first aid kits.

The walls of the relatively small, 1,500-square-foot interior are hung with large fluorescent banners labeled for practically every disaster--flood, hurricane, tidal waves, nuclear war and, of course, earthquake.

This place is a definite attention-grabber in these times of frazzled nerves.

"I didn't know about this store, but when I came in from the parking lot, it was the first thing I saw, so I came in," said Rodney Pick, who recently moved to Burbank because his Santa Clarita house was severely damaged in the Jan. 17 quake. "It's the greatest thing."

Pick bought two home security lights--for $19.95 each--that plug into outlets and go on automatically in a power outage. They're very popular these days--500 were sold in one week, store owner Al Cabacungan said.

Many of the store's other items are also in demand. The two-person, three-day survival kits--at $49.95 each--are moving at the rate of about 40 a day, said Janie O'Neill, the store manager. The kits include 12 water packets, two food bars, two ponchos, two light sticks and a flashlight, radio and first aid supplies.

Other big sellers are two-story ladders ($79.95 apiece), all kinds of water containers and first aid kits. Oh, and let's not forget Quake Grip. Every two inches of the Velcro strip holds about 40 pounds. A pack of four 2-by-2-inch strips sells for $11.

"We're completely sold out of that," Cabacungan said. "A lot of people had stuff damaged because it flew around, so they want to secure it and that's the stuff to use."

"I've had people come in here and throw their credit card on the counter and say, 'I wasn't prepared. What do I need to get to be prepared?' Everyone has a story to tell," said Cabacungan, who, with his business partner Adolf Singh, opened the Glendale store two weeks ago after receiving a call from a woman in charge of leasing the mall's outlets. Cabacungan and Singh had met her at the small Oceanside mini-mall where they had opened a disaster-preparedness store three years ago.

"We were looking for preparedness items for our own families, and we had to go to about 15 different stores to get all the stuff we needed," said Singh, who is Cabacungan's brother-in-law. "So we thought it would be great to have just one place where the average person could pick stuff up."

Many places sell some of the items found in the Disaster Preparedness store and the Yellow Pages list several mail-order companies with the same merchandise. But so far, this is the only shop with a retail outlet in the area.

In about 48 hours, Cabacungan, Singh and several friends set up the Glendale store, which they plan to keep open until at least April 1.

"We came in on Wednesday to an empty place and people insisted on getting in while we tried to put the store together," O'Neill said. "It's unbelievably incredible the amount of people we've had every day."

She said an average of 700 people go through the store daily and twice that amount come on Saturday and Sunday.

A mall information officer said he fields about 20 calls a day inquiring about the earthquake store.

"And it's always busy," said the officer, who asked that his name not be used. "It's the busiest store in the mall right now. Everyone is in there."

Cabacungan, who is staying with a relative in Torrance while running the Glendale operation, said sales in Oceanside are consistently good but not as high as here. About four times as much merchandise was sold during the first week in Glendale than an average week in Oceanside.

"Our place out there is about 500 feet bigger, but the traffic is 20 times less," he said.

There's nothing like a natural disaster for business. So do these entrepreneurs sit around hoping that another big earthquake hits?

"Of course not," Cabacungan said. "People joke all the time and say, 'Hey, do you guys pray for a disaster?' Well, ha-ha, it's a joke, but hey, we're going to be the life of the party. Literally."

WHERE TO SHOP

What: Disaster Preparedness store.

Location: Store 2245, next to Mervyn's on the lower level of Glendale Galleria, between Central Avenue and Broadway.

Hours: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sundays.

Call: (818) 548-4562.

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