It makes me sad often at nail salons to see women talking on the phone or to each other,
totally ignoring the people who are working hard—usually for a mere pittance–to make them look more beautiful.
But at Napa Nails, that never happens. Owner Tom Le makes sure of it. His shop is not fancy or spacious, but everyone who walks in gets a bottle of cold water and a warm dose of Vietnamese-accented friendliness. “I’m going to make you hot hot hot,” he tells my mother as she comes in for a pedicure. Unlike other services for herself, Mama is happy to come here. She knows that the woman who helps her is putting her son through college.
“I love you!” Tom tells all and sundry. It sounds corny, and I guess it is, but he is sincere. You smile in spite of yourself, even as he asks you to change places to accommodate others, he helps sisters to sit together or give you privacy in the corner for a lip wax. “I love you too,” say most women.
“Love you more!” is his response.
On July 17, though, Napa Nails was destroyed by fire.
Highly flammable acetone spilled on the floor and instantly caught fire. Tom tried to use the fire extinguisher but it didn’t work. He then used his hands to fight the fire.
Tom received third degree burns on his right hand and burns on his leg. He was taken to Queen of the Valley Hospital in Napa and then to UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento. He was released last week and may be facing skin grafts.
That’s the really bad part. But the really good part is that Wendy Rose Jacque, a longtime Napa Nails customer, launched into action—“His customers mean the world to him”—with “Love You More” a page on givingforward.com to raise money for lost income and other significant expenses.
So far the site has raised $8,913 from 112 donations. One of the nearly businesses briefly affected, The Roost Napa, donated 15% of their income to the site. “He’s our friend. He’s our neighbor. He’s a really nice man,” says Patricia Trimble owner of The Roost. Tom’s landlord is temporarily forgiving his rent.
Wendy Rose Jacque, who set all this good-heartedness in motion is encouraging Tom’s customers to donate what they would usually pay to have their nails done. “His customers,” she said, “mean the world to him.”
“I feel very happy,” says Tom, who’s continuing to recover at his him in Suisun City. “I’d love to stay in Napa with my customers.”