The remnants of a Tignish landmark that was destroyed by fire nine days earlier were being trucked away on Tuesday to make room for a new store.
Meanwhile, Eugene’s General Store operator, Carter Morrissey, and two of his staff were selling coffee from the tailgate of his Chevy Silverado.
The business’s drive-thru, in a building next to the store, had continued to operate following the fire but, for safety reasons, it was closed Tuesday while a crew from Northern Enterprises tore down what was left of the general store and started to haul the debris away.
The damage from the Oct. 6 fire was so extensive that the provincial fire marshall's office has ruled its cause as undetermined.
While Morrisey is intent on rebuilding “sooner rather than later,” he said Tuesday his priority is to get a makeshift store up and running in the drive-thru building. He expects to have it stocked with basic goods and ready to open in two weeks. Tenant, Neil Handrahan, volunteered to give up his accounting space in the building so that Morrissey would have space for a temporary store.
It’s yet another example of the business and community support he has received since taking over Eugene’s General Store in February 2018 and since the fire.
As Morrissey and two of his staff members were serving coffee, Shirley Harper walked across the street from her business, Shirley’s Café, and offered them space in her parking lot, if they needed it.
Harper had worked at Eugene’s General Store for 23 years prior to opening her own business. “It is a big landmark lost,” she reflected. She sympathized with Morrissey. “For him, just starting out, it’s a hard, old thing to take.”
Ann Marie Gallant was leaning against a storefront across Church Street from the burned-out remains of Eugene’s General Store, taking photos and videos of the demolition. She said she had been into the store daily while it operated. “I will miss going in to talk to the girls.”
Walking past the demolition, Willard Mokler said Eugene’s had become part of his routine. He’d go in for coffee or lottery tickets but, most of all, to socialize. Now, he said, “you have to bypass this place.”
Mokler is pleased Morrissey already has plans to rebuild.
Further up Church Street at the Silverado, coffee sales are brisk.
Morrissey said he had planned to operate the coffee stand by himself, but two of his workers from the store, Keisha McCallum and Brittany Doyle, offered to help him out. It’s good that he had the help as he was spending much of his time going back and forth between the truck and the drive-thru building refilling portable coffee dispensers. He was hoping to have the drive-thru reopened on Wednesday (today).
“It’s good to be back at it. We were kind of going crazy without work,” McCallum said. Doyle added it was nice to reconnect with customers.
Morrissey said he will be finalizing design plans for a new store once the makeshift store is operational. He said he plans to have office and storage space upstairs to allow for a different layout.
“Nice and open and bigger. We’ll do the best we can.”