Treasure trove

Photo by Vic Cantu

One of the few businesses in Paradise to survive the Camp Fire was Mary Nieland’s Attic Treasures Antique Mall. It was also fortunate for many other local entrepreneurs, as her two-story complex on the Skyway houses wares from dozens of dealers, each in their own booth. Nieland, 68, was born and raised in Paradise, and opened Attic Treasures 23 years ago. She says since reopening after the fire, many customers have visited her store as a kind of therapy to reassure themselves that at least parts of what they remember of Paradise remain. Visit Attic Treasures at 7409 Skyway, Wednesday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. You can also find it on Facebook or call 876-1541 for more info.

How has business been since the Camp Fire?

It’s been very good. About half of our large clientele live in Paradise, and half come from surrounding towns to make sure we’re OK and support a Paradise business. Many locals say walking around inside here helps their mental health and has a healing effect on them.

How did Attic Treasures escape destruction?

Well, our patio and a corner of the roof caught fire, but otherwise we did good. Mostly because there were two fire trucks parked right next door at the Paradise Skilled Nursing Home during the fire. It’s a convalescent home that I think the fire department really wanted to save, but unfortunately it burned down.

What kind of things are people buying most?

Mostly household items, since we are one of the only places in town to sell them. Things like dishes, cooking utensils and small furniture. Also many people want arts and crafts supplies for something healing to do while they sit in their trailers, often with no TV or internet.

Did your home survive?

Yes, because three days before the fire, I felt an internal warning that a fire was coming, so I soaked my grounds those three days with sprinklers and a garden hose. The morning of the fire, I saw it in the distance and placed my sprinklers on the roof, full blast. Mine was one of only three homes in my 22-house neighborhood to survive. Afterward, I heard from several people that they also felt something inexplicable was coming which they needed to prepare for. The difference is, I listened and acted on it. If you get messages out of the blue persistently, you need to listen.

How did you escape the fire?

It was harrowing. My dog and I were stuck in my truck in Skyway traffic for 2 1/2 hours before Cal Fire officials told us to get out and run to where a bus was waiting at Walgreens. We were picked up by a random Filipino family and made it to Chico OK.

Did you lose many dealers because of the fire?

Seven had to move, but we still have 30, and will add four more soon. We are one of the only antique stores left in Paradise, but I’d rather have my town back.