After recovering from a fire at Kelly’s Saloon on July 29, stores Touch of Grayce and Honeygirl Gourmet officially reopened on Sept. 23 and Friday Sept. 25 respectively—in time for Autumnfest and Geneseo Family Weekend. The stores had very different histories at the time of the fire. Touch of Grayce had just celebrated its 20th anniversary in May while Honeygirl Gourmet just opened its doors. Both were closed for eight weeks before they could reopen.
“I’ve spent a lot of hours here in the last eight weeks, a lot more than when we were open,” Touch of Grayce owner Grayce McLaughlin said.
According to McLaughlin, her restoration focused on salvaging the space hurt by the flames and by the water, which flooded the basement when the fire was being put out. Touch of Grayce’s employees cleaned the entire store and disposed of all damaged merchandise as well as anything that smelled like smoke—including their carpeting.
“The women that I work with all did an amazing job with helping and cleaning, inventorying and just putting the store back together,” McLaughlin said.
Honeygirl Gourmet could not reopen in its original location, instead moving three doors over to an empty space on Main Street.
“I got a fresh start here,” Honeygirl Gourmet owner Alyssa Cope ’10 said. “It gave me the opportunity to start over.” Cope’s new location is almost twice the size of her original and her business remained on Main Street, which she said was “lucky because there aren’t many vacancies.”
The restoration of Touch of Grayce and Honeygirl Gourmet’s is hindered by the ongoing construction on Main Street. “All of Main Street felt not only the fire but the construction as well,” McLaughlin said.
Both Cope and McLaughlin have remained optimistic throughout the restoration and reopening process, however. “There’s positives in any situation in life if you look for them,” Cope said.
“You have to look at the positive when something like this happens,” McLaughlin reiterated.
While Cope moved to a larger store, McLaughlin used the reordering after the fire to expand the Touch of Grayce’s inventory. The store now offers new chocolates, housewares, soaps and kitchen utensils.
Looking forward, Cope hopes to further expand her inventory to include more local foods and she plans on creating custom “care packages” that parents can purchase for their children at Geneseo.
McLaughlin has plans to “slowly rebuild” after what happened and is planning an opening event in the near future.
Throughout both shops’ trials, Cope noted that “the community has been very supportive.”
“We had offers from numerous customers and friends to come in and help clean up,” McLaughlin said. “People were very generous in offering anything they could.”
Not only was the rest of the Geneseo community offering support, but McLaughlin and Cope also have a connection of their own.
“It’s really nice to be right next door to Grayce,” Cope said. Cope worked at Touch of Grayce for 16 years before opening her own business. “This was a sad thing, but we went through it together. It’s so nice to be able to wake up again and be able to go to work because I love my job and I love my store.”