Businesses plot next move after fire

Published 5:00 am Thursday, May 31, 2007

A week after Brookhaven’s worst fire since September of 2001,owners of businesses gutted in the blaze are struggling to figureout what their options are.

Posey Place owner Jan Bullock said the loss of her businessstill has her emotional.

“It was a real kick in the gut to watch our dreams go up insmoke like that,” she said. “We’ve had this business for 10 years.I envisioned our children and grandchildren having thisbusiness.”

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Bullock said she plans to resurrect the wholesale baby businessshe had in the back of Posey Place to help get the cash flowstarted back up. She added that some area businesses had offered tosell the scented candles and soaps Posey Place is famous for.

“It’ll be the quickest way back to earning a living,” she said.”What we got back from our insurance won’t allow us to rebuildcompletely.”

Wayne Richardson, owner of Tri-County Financial Loans, said thefire had slowed him down, but it hadn’t stopped him. He said he isrelocating in the next two weeks to a building at 117 South SecondSt.

“It will be business as usual as soon as I get my officefurniture in here. All they’ll have to do is drive two blocksover,” said Richardson. “All my customer records are backed up oncomputer disks.”

Meanwhile, Edward Holmes, owner of Brookhaven Electronics, isn’tsure exactly what his future looks like. While his business didn’ttake on as much structural damage as some of the others, he saidhis merchandise was a total loss.

“I’m chilling out for a few days getting my head clear,” hesaid. “I’m trying to go back into the TV repair business, but Idon’t know what’s going to happen because I don’t own thebuilding.”

Holmes said it was an insurance issue for him as well.

“I didn’t have any insurance, and (building owner) Mr. (Charles)Lofton said he didn’t have any either. Insurance is so high forsmall businesses,” he said. “I said I couldn’t afford it, but now Isee I could have afforded it compared to this.”

Firefighters said while the downtown fire was a momentous event,it is not the worst in recent memory.

In September of 2001, a strip mall on Highway 51 burned, sendingfour people for various levels of treatment for burns and smokeinhalation. Two buildings were destroyed as a result of thefire.

Following last week’s fire, Richardson said he was grateful forall the love and support he’d received from his clients.

“You really realize how many friends you have after somethinglike this,” he said. “I was living in that place also, but I’mdoing all right, thanks to the Lord’s help. Just keep me in yourthoughts and prayers.”

Bullock said she’s received words of encouragement from all overthe country.

“Several shops have called, in particular Expressions andSisters In Design, offering to carry our soaps and candles,” shesaid. “And we’ve got customers calling from all over the country,willing to do whatever they can to help. And I can’t say enoughabout the fire department, the police department, and the cityofficials who have helped us as well.”