On Monday Feb 10th we got a phone call no business owner ever wants to get. At 7:15am 911 dispatch called to let us know our business was on fire. The Elizabethton Fire Department was amazing and put the fire out very quickly preventing a total loss. The fire was started outside the back door to our production facility with evidence to suggest arson. Possible suspects have been identified by the police department and this is still under investigation. Thankfully our retail store front (immediately next door) was unaffected and remains open.
The fire started at the rear door, completely burned the overhang, entered the electrical room, and entered the rear of the building, burning out the doors and damaging the roof. Fortunately the rest of the shop has primarily smoke and water damage. However, it is enough overall damage to warrant a structural engineer, electrician, investigator, and a contractor to assess and appraise damages.
Preliminary estimates to get the building back up and running are staggering… especially with loss/damage to the electrical system for the entire building. The building is insured, but at this point all we know is that our candle production is a little slower than normal until the building is repaired enough to pass inspection for structural and electrical integrity.
The Next Steps
Many of our wonderful friends, facebook followers, and customers have asked how they can help as we try to recover from this event. While insurance may be able to repair structural damage, product damage, etc., they do not cover the loss we incur when our production is at a standstill. We are looking at an unknown amount of time before our production space will be repaired and fully operational again. We are asking for help to get us back up and running making our candles. We will need capital to cover losses and potentially short term rent of another space to keep the candle business operational while we rebuild. Please keep us in your prayers as we work through this. We truly appreciate all of your support and encouragement. God has a purpose in every event in our lives, and we are trusting Him to “work all things together for good.” We will keep you updated via facebook and this page of updates as they occur. In the mean time if you would like, or are able to donate, you can do so here:
March 2020 Update
So, the demolition process has started. We learned that soot is corrosive when it comes in contact with electrical wiring. Most of our paneling was on the rear of the building, so the entire electric system has to be replaced. So far we have one working plug. (yay!)
We received a smoke cleaning bill of $16,000. But we thought to ourselves, would it be better to clean, insulate, and encapsulate…or just clean? We will be adding plastic, insulation, and metal sheeting to the roof and walls of the building. The “room on wheels” in this photo was our candle cooling room. We will add new insulation to it once the cleaning has been done.
Continue to pray for us as we make hard decisions and try to stretch every dime to make this project possible.
April 2020 Update
April had the potential to be a slow month, but we decided to keep busy and make progress on the building. The entire inside is now encapsulated, insulated, and has new steel on the walls and ceiling. Electrical plugs and LED lighting has been installed. We are now working on organizing everything so we can double the size of the retail space of our store at 208 W. Elk Ave.
But as nice as the inside looks, the outside still needs to be repaired. The rear of the building had a storage area that was badly damaged by the smoke and fire. It has now been demolished, but we decided to find a creative use for the concrete block that was torn down.
In the retail building, the middle room has had water issues under the floor so we decided to concrete it. This is the room we have a question about (see survey below). Since all production, shipping and receiving will be moved to the “fire” building, what would you like to see us do with this additional square footage in the retail building?
All of the demolition has been done. There is a new AC unit for the production building. New doors and roof transition are next. This little trailer has been a trooper. We were unable to get a building permit, so this is about as far as this building rehab project can go. We will be talking to the city and continuing to see what will be allowed in the future. There has been talk of changing the zoning for this area, development of businesses so they face the Tweetsie Trail in addition to the main road, etc. We are blessed that production still fits in this building even with the loss of square footage.
In the meantime, our little retail store next door has undergone a huge facelift. Pressure washing, new mortar, and a vintage german shmear to add a little character to the building no one ever knew was here. We have been adding a lot of new products to our store – honey, grass fed meats, honey sodas, historic teas, black mountain chocolate (samples available), beef jerky, silk skirts, baby items, jewelry, razors, and much more.
Glow Herbals, which started selling their products in our store in December, gave us notice on July 4th that they were moving to a downtown location, and by July 10th were completely moved out. We will continue offering different herbs and teas in store so that customers can visit whichever location is more convenient for them.
In the back of our retail store, we have been busy working on getting a certified TDA kitchen up and running. Our current goal is to make this kitchen available to anyone who needs a legal, affordable way to produce their food products for wholesale or retail. When the COVID Media Pandemic hit the last time, farmers markets were shut down leaving farmers without an outlet for their produce. We hope this kitchen will be a way for farmers, bakers, cooks, etc. to turn their raw materials into shelf stable products that can be sold anywhere. Never again do we want to have a scenario where our local farmers who work so hard have a complete crop loss just because they do not have an outlet to sell their harvest.
So we have been hard at work trying to remodel the retail building after the fire. Many of you may have seen signs out front indicating grass fed meats, grass fed milk, ice cream, etc. Most of these products are made possible because of the feedback you gave us on what to do with the middle room of 208 W. Elk. Lots of healthy snacks, to go meals, and even bread is made fresh weekly from a special heritage whole wheat flour.
We will keep a list of amazing people here who have considerably helped us overcome large obstacles in case you ever have a similar situation in the Tri-Cities.
Amazing Insurance Provider: Farm Bureau Insurance of Tennessee
Amazing Survey Specialist: McCoy Land Survey
Great Electrician: Kinetic Electric
Affordable and Quality Sheet Metal: Classic Metals