Businesses Come Back To Live After Fire Last Year

Valentine's Day is keeping the shops in One Magnolia Place busy. But shop owners in this downtown Bay St. Louis mall say they weren't sure they'd ever see customers again.

"We got a phone call at about a quarter to six, and they said that the building was on fire," store owner Lynda Cook said.

The damage caused by the fire and smoke closed the stores, and owners didn't know when they would be able to re-open.

"All of us lost everything, we lost everything to smoke," Cook said.

She says she was surprised that they were back open Dec. 8, just about four weeks later. The remodeling was done quickly but not fast enough for Christmas shoppers.

"We had a good sale through the three weeks that we had," Cook said. "But we missed four weeks, and you don't recoup that."

Because of the extensive damage caused by the fire, everything had to be replaced - new walls and paint, new floors, even new merchandise. But with the fire behind them, shop owners say some good came from the tragedy. According Jean Ann Trifffily of Fashion Express, customers were ready when they reopened their doors.

"I had folks coming in here, 'We were waiting for ya'll to open. We want to give you our business because we know that there was a loss involved.'"

With many new dedicated customers and with beautiful new surroundings, owners expect business to be better than ever before.