Matt's Cash and Carry owners look back at company's growth after devastating fire
For owner Danny Smith, the loss of Matt's Cash & Carry in Pharr has been devastating. But behind this misfortune, there is a story.
"I was working for a guy when I was going to college called Cecil McDonald,” Smith said. “He's the guy that actually built the first store at his first location after Beulah in San Benito in the railroad tracks. Didn’t build a building, just had a trailer and sold building materials out of there."
Smith says that years later, Mr. McDonald purchased land in Pharr to build Valley Cash & Carry, the original name of the hardware store.
"Mr. McDonald called me one day and said, ‘Hey, I can get you into the National Guard in Brownsville, there's four openings,’" Smith said.
Shortly after, Smith moved from Louisiana to the Valley to serve in the guard, where he also worked in the lumberyard of the Pharr location under a second owner – Ira Matt, who then gifted him the store in 2000.
Here, Smith would meet his wife, Diana. They married in 1981.
The New Year Day’s fire was so intense that it made its way through the backyard of the family's home, just a few feet away from the entrance. Firefighters were able to contain the flames to avoid a bigger tragedy.
"My gutter is melted off my home, but if the wind was going the other way, none of these houses would be here, lots of families to the left to the right," said Diana Olivares Smith.
"People are what's important,” Smith said. “Yeah, I love my business and I got memories here, but I lost no employees, we lost no first responders, nobody was hurt."
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