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"It lets you know with all the bad in the world, there's still good," | Woodbridge family business destroyed in fire

Penny's Used Auto Parts in Woodbridge, VA, opened in 1956. It was destroyed by a fire in September.

WOODBRIDGE, Va. — A Woodbridge family says they've received an incredible amount of support from their community and through the GoFundMe page they launched. On Sept. 28, Penny's Used Auto Parts on Minnieville Road was burnt to the ground. 

Richard Archie says his parents, Henry and Annie Archie opened the business in the 1950's. He says it was one of the first Black-owned businesses in the area. 

"It used to be their family home and then they turned it into one of the first Black-owned junk yards in Woodbridge," Shannon told WUSA9.

In 1975, after both Henry and Annie had passed away, Richard says he and two of his brothers took over. Shannon says over the years the community has often turned to father, Richard, aka "Penny", when they found themselves in a bind. 

Credit: Archie Family
Henry And Annie Archie

"They know if they can't pay for parts, Mr. Penny will give it to me on credit. Mr. Penny, I don't have it now, but I promise I'll bring it back next week and people really do," said Shannon.

"It's not always about the money. We work on people's cars who can't even afford to pay us," said Richard.

On Sept. 28, Archie says he got a call he'll never forget. "They told me the place was on fire," Archie said.

He and his family say they rushed over to find firefighters trying to get the massive blaze under control. Archie says the fire department told him they believe the fire was caused by an electrical problem.

Archie says the fire destroyed everything from important documents and paperwork to cherished memories. "A lot of family pictures, customers who came through, the wall of fame we called it," said Archie. He estimated the damage to be about $150,000. 

Credit: Prince William Co. Fire & Rescue

They didn't have insurance, because they say no one would give them insurance. 

"Every time we'd call around try to get some insurance everybody denied us because we were a junk yard, salvage yard," said Richard. 

"We've been trying. My Mother tried before me. My father and uncles. It's been no matter where we go. We tried, we said we'll pay a higher premium just to make sure because we know things happen. But it's just a no. Now this happened and we're sitting here, we're not rich. We're going day by day. The pandemic affected everybody," said Shannon.

She says it's been an especially tough couple of years for her family. She says she recently lost her mother and her son. 

Despite all of the loss the Archie family has seen, they say they've also seen something wonderful. They say the community has shown up for them. 

"People been calling, asking, you guys, okay?" Shannon told WUSA9.

The family created the Go Fund Me page to raise money to rebuild. Shannon says seeing the donations pour in has been heartwarming.

"They work for their money, and just for them to help because they care, that means everything in the world. It lets you know with all the bad in the world there's still good."

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