A year to the day after a fire destroyed the historic Abbott & Haliburton Home Building Centre in Port au Port West, Bill Abbott has his sights set on opening his new store.
The owner-operator said it has been an interesting year since the fire on April 3, 2017, from working with his insurance company to straightening out permits with Service Newfoundland and Labrador.
Preparation of the site took lots of blasting rocks during an eight-week period to attain a level piece of ground.
“I’m a little behind where I wanted to be,” Abbott said. “There have been things that have been out of our hands, from permits to inspections.”
Abbott said their goal is to be operating out of the new Home Building Centre in June of this year and, barring no unforeseen circumstances, that hope is still there.
He expects to see a lot of progress in the next few weeks if he can get an electrical inspection done and approved.
The new warehouse is 99 per cent complete, but the store has quite a bit of work left. The difference between the new facility and the one that burnt is that this one is all on one level, whereas the old store had three levels.
Abbott said a lot of people have been asking about it, and their plan is to have a giftware section in the building, as The Upper Level was popular in the old building.
Even right after the fire the business stayed opened and any staff members who wanted to continue working were kept on. Several have moved on, but 12 of them continue to work for the business. It’s expected that when the business is open, they will go back to 16 employees and likely more seasonally.
When the fire occurred the business was 132 years old, and Abbott said they are looking forward to it continuing for many more years, especially with a modern facility.
“Customers have been very understanding and I haven’t heard any complaints from staff,” he said.
In the interim, they’ve been operating out of three buildings located on the opposite side of the road, two trailers for offices and a heated shipping container for products that could freeze.