Athens business reopens five months after fire - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Athens business reopens five months after fire

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A business in downtown Athens is opening its doors to shoppers again five months after the building was destroyed by the massive fire.

READ MORE | UPDATE: Several businesses affected by massive fire in downtown Athens

Greeting customers, helping shoppers and wrapping gifts are all part of owning a business.  They are tasks Patti Greek, owner of Greeks Bearing Gifts, is happy to take on once again.

"It's very exciting to look around and say, ‘Oh my gosh! Yes! This is new and this is exciting!’” said Greek, “but on the other hand, I learned so much."

She learned a lot from renovations. At her store, everything from the storefront to the merchandise is brand new.

"It’s a very long process in one way, but a very short process in the other,” said Greek.

She didn’t plan to renovate but had to. In July 2017, a fire that blazed through downtown Athens caused Greek to close her doors.

READ MORE | One month later: Downtown Athens rebuilding after devastating fire

Closing her business for five months was scary, especially during the holiday season. Greek said the money the store brings in during Christmas time, holds them over during the first part of the new year. She was determined to open in time for holiday shopping.

"I was hoping that people would save a little bit of money for us when we opened,” said Greek, “It, [renovations,] kept getting a little bit later and a little bit later than we thought, and I kept thinking oh gosh let's hope those people didn't shop someplace else."

Even if her customers shopped at other stores, they are still coming back to Greeks Bearing Gifts, too. Her returning customers and their reactions help Greek know she did the right thing reopening.

"I was able to go down a different road, introduce myself to new companies and bring those here,” said Greek. “And people have been very receptive."

Smoke and water damage affected roughly six businesses in Athens after the fire. The Athens Chamber of Commerce ended up having to relocate. Officials plan to start renovating at the beginning of next year. The building where the fire started was torn down. The owners have also started the rebuilding process.

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