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Bettendorf business owner helped fellow entrepreneurs after Davenport flood, now the favor is returned after fire takes down her store

"We were all ramped up. All inventoried up to go into the Christmas rush and then everything just fell apart."

BETTENDORF, Iowa — For Gwendolyn Lee, 2020 has been a bumpy road. It’s a statement a lot of people would probably agree with. 

In October Lee’s business burnt to the ground. Rubberstamps.net caught fire, investigators still unable to determine what started the blaze.

Lee saying, “It was six weeks ago today that I got the call. My husband and I were out to dinner.”

It was one call and everything changed. Lee instantly started rebuilding.

“It was lots of crying and then I started getting on the phone with different vendors, suppliers, customers, just to immediately just say hey we’ve had a catastrophic event.”

In December, Lee put out the call for help. Several local business owners showed up to help her sift through what’s left.

“These will get decontaminated. They’re in good shape to be cleaned and still used. We’re going to stage them. My garage has become my new warehouse.”

In her time of need what Lee has found is an outpour of support from other small businesses in the area.

Laura Heath showed up to sift through inventory. She owns Trash Can Annie Vintage Clothing, and she is no stranger to tragedy.

Heath’s business suffered heavy damage from the record flood in downtown Davenport in 2019.

“Water three feet high.”

Even then, it was local businesses that came out to help. Before the flood, Heath sending out a call for help. Lee was one of many to show up hours before the store would be partially underwater, getting as much inventory to higher ground as possible.

“We pretty much got the bulk of our inventory that would have been ruined out thanks to the help of strangers and good people like Gwendolyn.”

Today, Heath returning that favor.

“This is when people need people. This is what the holidays are about. We needed to be here for them helping them out just like they were for us. Absolutely no question asked.”

After six weeks of uncertainty Rubber Stamps has found its new home on East 2nd Street in downtown Davenport.

Lee hopes to be moved in and open for business by Christmas.

“That would be my Christmas present. To be open just in time, that would be amazing.”

It’s a gift made a little more possible thanks to the support of friendly neighbors.

Below is footage of the fire captured by the News Eight Drone

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