SAN ANTONIO – A San Antonio salon owner is devastated after her business was burglarized and vandalized just as state and county officials allowed for hair and nail salons to reopen.
Antoinette Gomez, owner of Empire Beauty Bar, said she got the call about the destruction Monday.
“My landlord told me that my salon had been broken into and vandalized,” Gomez said. “My husband and I came over and did not expect to see what I saw. Initially, we thought they were going for some products and my drill, but the way it was left was worse than what they could have ever stolen.”
Gomez said the suspect apparently climbed through the ceiling of her business to get in.
“I feel like he was checking out the place,” Gomez said. “He knew this was a small business. He knew women were the people running this place. That is what hurts me the most. I am not a big company. It is just me. I built this from the bottom up. We put our all into this. This is an invasion into my privacy and I feel like I’m being watched.”
Gomez said the crime has caused a major setback for her and it was already difficult being shut down since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
“For all of us small business owners, it is hard to file for unemployment,” Gomez said. “To access help right away is almost impossible. There was so many questions and no answers and then the one answer I get, ‘You can open.’ You just don’t know how hard this has been on me. It tears me up.”
Gomez said it hurts her more thinking about her children.
“We are a family of five,” Gomez said. “We would have extra money to do things for them that I am not able to do right now. I have teachers asking me about laptops and I can’t afford it. We are all working off one phone. I look at them and I think of this loss.”
Gomez said she and her husband on Tuesday planned to go clean up the damage done to the salon and they learned the suspect was getting arrested on the spot.
“That’s how he got caught was coming back in the early hours in the morning yet again not afraid,” Gomez said. “What if I would have been here with my children. That definitely scares me.”
Gomez was able to retrieve her stolen items from the suspect’s vehicle, including one of her nail drills and a photograph of Jesus Christ.
“As I was sharing what happened, other salons were commenting saying, ‘This also happened to me.’ When I was getting my things out of his car, I saw other stolen items and just thought, ‘You are just out here on a crime spree ruining people’s lives. If you are a small business owner, you have built your business from scratch.”
The suspect is accused of stealing nail products, their television and various electronics. The damage is estimated to cost $5,000.
“I remember trying to turn the lights on and nothing was working and I asked my landlord did they cut the lights off,” Gomez said. “We found out he did that. Whatever he was doing to cut electricity lines, phone lines. Every wire you can think of. He yanked or cut. The damage that was caused, it is hard to believe that one person did this, so I would hate to think there is someone else out there like, “Don’t worry I will pick up where you left off.’”
Gomez said going through this loss has brought her and her small business neighbors closer together.
As she hopes to raise money to repair and replace things in her salon, Gomez hopes this situation serves as a reminder to others in the small business community to look after each other. She also had this to say to the suspect arrested.
“You don’t want to be that person,” Gomez said. “You are hurting people like deep in the heart. Hopefully someone hears this and thinks, 'I don’t want to do that anymore.’ This is our lives. You can take that energy and do something better with it.”