For store manager Craig Carter, the most difficult part of reopening his grocery store has been getting the word out.
"We're just trying to let people know that we're back and they can come down here again. With us being closed for about a month, people still don't know we're open," he said.
Easy Way Food Store at 80 N. Main, a downtown landmark since 1932, reopened last Friday, 26 days after undergoing smoke and water damage from a predawn fire that destroyed Jack's Food Store next door. The owner of the Jack's building said he has not decided whether to rebuild.
Although no structural damage occurred to the Easy Way location, the store lost all of its merchandise. What was originally estimated as a five- to 10-day closing while fire officials inspected the area became an opportunity for the store to revamp its interior, said Easy Way vice president David Carter.
"We had a salvage crew come in, insurance adjustments were done, the entire store was repainted, and all the ceiling tiles were replaced," he said. "We lost the three days before Christmas [in sales]. Those are the biggest days of the year, and we probably lost $75,000 in revenue."
During remodeling, the 30 employees at the downtown location were transferred to the company's seven other family-owned stores.
"We felt that we had to get back open for our customers," said David Carter. "For some of them, we are their grocery store, for others we're their bank, and for others we're their meeting place. We're one big family for our customers here."