Blackpool comic store reopens after taxi smash and owner says it was 'touch and go' if the business survived
When a drink driver smashed his car into a Blackpool comic book store it almost spelled then end for the business.
As Infinity Comics, on Lytham Road, re-opened more than 10 weeks after the building was badly damaged, owner Connor Mitchell revealed it was “touch and go” if his store would survive.
He struggled to pay the bills as he counted the cost of the crash, which saw an off-duty taxi driver plough his car into the shop on June 5.
As the store re-opened on Saturday, he said: “My problem is I order my stock from America two months in advance and my supplier said I still have to pay them.
“I have had to be at the store every Tuesday to pick up the deliveries and because deliveries keep coming in, money is going out.
“My insurance only covered four weeks of deliveries so I have had to struggle to keep paying them when I’m not getting any income from the business.
“It was touch and go multiple times if I was going to survive. There was a point where I had to get in touch with my insurance and told them this is the last day.
“My supplier had given extensions but if I didn’t pay money on that day they were going to close me down and I would have been down.
“Luckily the insurance guy got in touch with me at about 5.30pm and I managed to get it resolved but it has been very close.
“A couple of points I thought that I was not going to open back up and I would have to pack it all up because I couldn’t afford it.”
Connor said he does not know how much everything has cost but knows the front of the building repairs alone cost around £8,000 and believes the final repair bill will be a five-figure sum.
He added: “There was a full set of windows, which aren’t going to be cheap, new shutters are being fitted next week as well.
“I’m opening because I have to but there are still lots of little things that are going to be have to done in the next month .
“The windows were delayed by two weeks, which was a nightmare as I had set up my original opening date and tried to get that out there so people knew about it. Luckily it was only a couple of days as I then got told about the windows.”
He said he was happy to finally open the shop again on Saturday and glad the wait is finally over.
He said: “As much as I can say I have loved the time off, and time at home with the kids, it has got to the point where I am missing all of the customers and social aspect of the community.
“I have needed a change of scenery and there is only so many box sets on Netflix you can watch before you get bored.
“The amount of stress from me that my partner Nikki has had to put up with has been incredible and there has been a lot of 2am breakdowns.
“I’m sure she is glad I am back at work as well now.”
Connor is also happy to get back his community and says lots of people have rallied around and supported him over the last two months.
“The landlord Stephen Nightingale has been invaluable since the day of the crash and he has been really supportive of the business and what has happened.
“The community has been great, a guy round the corner and a couple of my customers who work at Granthams in Blackpool have all offered the help.
“On Thursday nights I do the games evening and that is more like a community of friends and I speak to all of them outside of work. They have been fantastic and kept in touch.
“They will still message and even though they are customers they are more than that for me. I’m glad to start getting back into my normal routine and put everything behind me.”
The smash happened at around 5am on June 5 when a Ford Mondeo went flying over the roundabout on Lytham Road at the junction with Waterloo Road.
The Ford become “airborne” and took a chunk of asphalt out of the road after landing back down again.
The car is then thought to have clipped a lamppost before crashing into the shop.
Lancashire Police said at the time: “We were called to the incident at 5.30am following reports a car had left the road near to the Royal Oak Hotel.
“A Ford Mondeo has gone over a roundabout and then collided with a building.”
Jacek Brejwo, 27, of Foxhall Road, Blackpool, was charged with failing to provide specimen - person in charge of vehicle. He was summoned to appear at Blackpool Magistrates’ Court on June 25 and was disqualified for 36 months, reduced if he completes a course. A community order was also made and Brejwo must pay £85 in costs and an £85 surcharge.
A source said the driver is no longer with the taxi company he was employed by and has had his private hire licence revoked by the council.