Businessman Credits Success After Fire To Faith, Friends

One South Mississippi business owner says faith and help from the community has allowed him to continue his animal feed business.

The T&N Feed Store in Latimer went up in flames back in March. The building burned to the ground, leaving the 16-year-old family business without a home. The family has temporarily set up shop in an old convenience store.

Stocking and restocking bags of animal food is part of the daily routine at T&N Feed. And it's a tight squeeze. The old convenience store just wasn't built to handle the large, bulky items Ed Tyner sells.

"As you can see, we have four containers outside to put things in and we still have to run back and forth to stock. But at least we've got a place to put it." Tyner said. "If we had not gotten this place, we'd have probably lost our business."

When the fire demolished the old T&N Feed Store, Tyner and his family looked to the nearby vacant convenience store for hope, not knowing what to expect.

"It didn't look like it would hold as much as it does."

But the Tyners moved in anyway.

"A lot of our customers came and helped us clean up the outside and the inside and worked really hard at it."

T&N Feed reopened a week after the blaze.

"Staying in the same general area and people being able to see us from the road has helped tremendously. We've gotten probably 80 percent of our customers back."

They've also managed to attract new clientele.

"We've had people coming in looking for snacks, looking for gas, all kinds of things. They walk in the door, look around and say,'Oops, I thought you were a convenience store or a service station.'"

If nothing else, this is a family business that doesn't know how to fail.

"It takes a lot of faith to keep going. If you don't have hope, you don't have anything."

Tyner says work on the new T&N Feed will begin in a few weeks at the old location. They hope to have a grand opening by December.

Tyner says firefighters still don't know what caused the March blaze.