GENESEO – Main Street’s once crippled businesses have bounced back stronger than ever in the aftermath of the devastating fire that destroyed Kelly’s Saloon on July 29.
Since the fire, both Touch of Grayce and Honey Girl Gourmet have worked round the clock to take advantage of the damage and losses to rebuild their shops better than ever, and have both opened for business in time for parents’ weekend at SUNY Geneseo.
“Between the fire and Main Street construction, I think Main Street was compromised,” said Grayce McLaughlin, who has been owner and operator of Touch of Grayce for over 20 years. “But we’re all ready to get back to business.”
Grayce’s basement, containing hundreds of items of merchandise, was filled with water as firefighters doused Kelly’s with 500,000 gallons of water, successfully containing the blaze to the Kelly’s building. Due to great personal sacrifices and unwavering dedication to her store, Grayce has replaced her stock and even ordered some new products as business continues ever upward.
“After the fire, we had a lot of water in the basement, and there was some water damage towards the front, but the biggest thing has been the smell,” said McLaughlin. “We lost a lot of merchandise to smoke damage, everything soft or plush, paper, cards, books, baby things, women’s accessories, our chocolates, anything edible. We kept cleaning. The walls were washed. The floors were mopped. We had the place repainted by professional painters with oil-based paint and we’re really happy with our new paint job. And now we replaced everything and do have a few products we never had before. There’s a line of t-shirts, new tea towels, new Haitian art, new fair trade bags, new books, new journals, and new coloring books.”
McLaughlin added that the people at her store and the community were at the core of her successful recovery.
“The community was really supportive, people have been really thoughtful and kind,” said McLaughlin. “Now the students are here, the local people have come together, and we’re ready to get back to business.”
Touch of Grayce is located at 65 Main Street, and Honey Girl Gourmet has reopened 61 Main Street after completely renovating the space.