While efforts to control a devastating Alberta wildfire continue, one Langford business is getting ready to welcome three of the thousands of people forced out of Fort McMurray.
Tommy Gun’s Original Barbershop just opened its doors at the Westshore Town Centre Friday. The company lost two Fort McMurray franchises to the blaze, but some of the displaced staff will be able to get right back to work here on the Island.
“It’s really a sad situation but we’re just trying to soften the blow for them as much as possible,” said Victoria franchisee Ron Frolek.
“It was really hard to hear that some of them trying to get out of there and some of them being put into hotels and then some of them just not getting that opportunity so actually living in gymnasiums,” said wife and co-owner Tracy Frolek.
The Fort McMurray fire left 28 workers at the company’s stores there out of work and homeless. Three of them, women from Russia, Korea and Ireland, will fly into Victoria Monday.
“They just don’t have any families there to help them out to help them out,” said Tracy. “So we’ve had to find lodging, got to get them all their tools for their work, so its happened really fast,” added Ron.
While the Froleks have been able to find an apartment, its unfurnished. And with the barbers imminent arrival, the couple are now scrambling to find beds, other furniture, and the basics for their new staff, reaching out on social media for help.
The company is covering the Fort Mac workers flights, and two months of rent. The Froleks say anyone who can help with supplies can contact the shop.
As a brand new business, the couple says they’re happy to be gaining experienced staff, but even happier to helping the displaced workers from Fort McMurray back onto their feet.
“We’re just going to welcome them and, luckily enough, because we are opening our business we are looking for stylists, so these girls are going to be able to pop right back in here and start working and just start doing their day to day stuff that they’re used to doing,” said Tracy.