Decades-Old Family Owned Store Burns Down - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

02/26/05

Decades-Old Family Owned Store Burns Down

A 42-year-old family-owned business went up in flames Saturday.

An early morning blaze destroyed the main building of Compton's Appliance Store in Gulfport.

Residents who live nearby reported the fire just after 4 a.m. this morning after spotting smoke and flames coming from the building.

"About 5 o'clock, the Gulfport PD called me and told me my building was on fire, so I rushed down here to see what you see. Total blaze. Everything was a total loss," said Chuck Compton whose family owns Compton's Appliance Store.

The family name etched on the wall is about the only thing that wasn't destroyed or damaged by a fire at Compton's Appliance Store.

Chuck's father opened the popular Gulfport store back in 1963.

21 years later, his sons took over, moving the business to Pass Road, only to watch it all go up in flames Saturday morning.

"You work 21 years to build something up and it goes away in flames...it's heartbreaking," Compton said.

Hundreds of electrical appliances and household goods in the store were destroyed, as well as important business records and contact information.

Some store merchandise stored alongside the building was spared, as were neighboring businesses.

"We weren't able to save this particular building, but we knew that if we could save the two warehouses on either side, which one of the warehouses was full of stock, belonging to Comptons, and it would have just been three times, four times, a hundred worse if they'd have lost all those appliances," said Gulfport Fire Chief Pat Sullivan.

The Comptons and store employees will be spending much of the weekend moving untouched goods and appliances to this location they own just east of the destroyed building.

The Comptons say the business should be opened within the next few days.

"We already ran a phone line from this building to that building, so we'll be ready for business on Monday," Compton said.

Despite this tragedy, the Comptons are refusing to give up.

They say strong family ties will help them rebuild and restore their shattered business.

No word yet on what caused the fire.

Compton's Appliance Store has about 70 employees.

The store is set to re-open at its new site Monday morning at 6 a.m.

The Comptons are planning to level the fire-damaged building and operate permanently out of its new location.

By: Toni Miles

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