GENESEO – Honey Girl Gourmet, Geneseo’s newest specialty and gift store, was just finishing its third month in business on July 29, 2015, when its building was tragically destroyed in the fire that also claimed Kelly’s Saloon.
But it takes more than a devastating fire to beat its founder and owner, Alyssa Cope, 32. Due to the incredible personal sacrifices and constant labor throughout August and September by herself and Blake Burnette with Contract Trade Services, she has completely renovated a new location at 61 Main Street and is now open for business.
“Immediately after the fire, the biggest thing was throwing out everything that was affected, and that was really hard,” said Cope. “But it was exciting to plan a new space. It’s been a whirlwind, but we got a lot done. We pretty much gutted this place. We raised the ceiling, replaced parts of the walls, and repainted.”
Cope said that her friends, family and community have come together to help her and made the quick turn around possible.
“My mom is really helpful for bouncing ideas off of,” added Cope. “Not everyone’s mom will tell them something is a bad idea. Plus she’s an interior designer. My friend Tevye Sherline is an artist and painter in Geneseo, and he was a huge help during demo and refurbishing existing structure that wasn’t going to be replaced. People have been very supportive and helpful.”
For example, artist Jan Abernethy’s untitled watercolor was delivered to the original Honey Girl shop for the Genesee Valley Nature Conservancy’s silent art auction during the Geneseo Merchants Association wine stroll on Aug. 7. The piece was lost along with the original store.
“We were going to be a stop on the wine stroll and hang the painting as part of the auction,” said Cope. “We liked it and were planning on buying it anyway, so after the fire, we paid the ‘buy it now’ price for it. When [Abernethy] found out about it, she made and donated an almost perfect replica for us.”
Cope has taken full advantage of the opportunity to move, and has added a 12-foot tasting table, a wider variety of cheeses due to expanded refrigerator space, and is planning to market new products soon.
“You try to see the silver linings, I’m really excited to do business out of here,” said Cope. “I’ve been able to add a few things like the tasting table and cheeses, and there’s more on the way like that. I like the huge windows because now I can do big window displays that just weren’t possible in my little shop before. I already splurged on this gold skeleton in the window.”