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Bertrand’s Music Location Destroyed In Car Crash

...destroyed virtually the store’s entire stock of music gear and sheet music. Local news reports said the 94-year-old driver was attempting to park her Toyota Camry at the beauty salon next door, but it wasn’t clear why she was unable to stop the car.

Bertrand’s owner Jeff Bertrand was away at the California Music Educators Association conference when employees tried to reach him about the incident—first by a voicemail, which he didn’t receive, and then by a text message and video showing the scene at the store. “I was like, ‘What is this?’” said Jeff. “’This looks like a total disaster.’”

As employees told him later, the Camry crashed through the showroom around 1 p.m. that afternoon, blowing out the windows and setting the store on fire. By the time firefighters could put it out, at least 3/4 of the store had burned. There were four employees but no customers inside at the time of the accident. According to Jeff, his staff was cool under fire: one helping the driver from her car while others called 911 and made sure the building was evacuated. “We’re extremely proud of how our employees dealt with the emergency,” said Jeff. “We’re just thankful that they were on top of it and that no one got hurt—which was rather amazing.”

As of now, the Bertrand’s location on San Bernardino’s Highland Ave. is boarded up and vacant, but Bertrand’s staff have set up a temporary location on the same block. The owner of nearby Hard Core Fitness told Jeff she had an empty space he was welcome to use—“Very nice of her,” said Jeff—and within several days after the accident, Bertrand’s had set up a base where customers can meet with staff for rentals and repairs. Some basic inventory has also been moved there from Bertrand’s main location in San Diego. “We’ve put up a banner to let people know that we’re located around back for now,” says Jeff. “We tried to get ahead of it to let people know that we’re not closing down.”

Because multiple insurance companies are in play—the driver’s, the store’s, and the land owner’s—Bertrand’s is still working out the details on its rebuilding process, “but we think most of it will be made right by the insurance companies involved,” said Jeff. Current plans call for Bertrand’s to rebuild in the same location, where the roof and outer walls have been declared structurally sound. If reconstruction is only a matter of building out the interior, the store could be back in business within a few months. In the meantime, says Jeff, Bertrand’s vendors have been very sympathetic: While still at the California Music Educators Association event, suppliers were already asking him what they could do to help, and Jupiter representatives even sent him home with a display rack to get his temporary location set up. Still, some friends and partners weren’t above a little gallows humor. As Jeff said, “I’ve had a few people tell me we should have a smokin’ hot fire sale.”


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