HANCOCK COUNTY — Three businesses in a plaza just east of downtown Greenfield burned after Mueller Auto Body Shop caught fire Nov. 10. With the new year approaching, the Daily Reporter caught up with the owners of those shops to talk about their plans.
Tangles Hair Salon
The five employees of Tangles Hair Salon fought like mad to keep their business open after losing their building at the corner of Apple and Main streets, said owner Mandi McFarland.
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Anxious to find a place to set up shop, the women had considered several options. They decided they would keep serving their clients, even if it meant setting up a few salon chairs inside of a trailer behind the original building.
“We had a few crazy-woman moments,” McFarland said.
Three of Tangles’ employees found jobs elsewhere, McFarland said. But she and her co-owner, Shawn Miller, found a new stroke of luck, she said. Downtown Greenfield property owners Justin and Jessica Green reached out to the women and offered them a temporary work space on North Street.
Jessica Green was happy to help them get back on their feet as they dealt with the fallout from the fire, Miller said. The Eddie Lawrence Men’s Store, 19 W. North St., had a rarely used kitchen in the back of their building.
They made the humble space work in a pinch.
McFarland and Miller, with the help of their husbands, installed two salon chairs and transformed the tiny nook into a suitable mini salon in three days, McFarland said. Their little corner downtown is a temporary solution until they figure out how to move forward, she said.
The next step largely depends on what rebuilding efforts Mueller owners Michael and Deborah Pfeiffer take to rebuild, Miller said. Mueller was located to the east of the plaza, also owned by the Pfeiffers.
Until Mueller’s fate is determined, it is unclear what action their business will take, McFarland said.
In the meantime, Tangles welcomes new clientele.
Shelaine Gilmer wants to assure her customers that PopIndy, with its soda shop-style sweet treats, is still around.
PopIndy maintains its online store at popindy.com. While the selection is scaled down because of limited storage capacity, the store continues selling customers’ favorite sweets, soda pop and gift baskets, Gilmer said.
The old-fashioned soda fountain and candy shop opened in Greenfield just a year ago. But the nostalgic corner store has enjoyed considerable community support, Gilmer said.
After the fire, Gilmer and her four employees received a flood of supportive emails and Facebook messages. The workers knew of a handful of regular customers, but they hadn’t grasped to what extent the public was mourning the loss of PopIndy.
Day after day, parents told Gilmer of how much their children missed the store.
“The realization hit us that it’s important for the town to have a place like this,” she said.
Like Tangles, PopIndy waits to see what action the Pfeiffers take before determining where to build the new location. But Gilmer has hopes for significant expansion come January.
Gilmer wants to make PopIndy bigger and better, complete with an ice cream bar, tons of seating and party rooms, she said.
She hopes to build a new and improved soda fountain; amid the community’s support of her business endeavors, she can’t imagine doing anything less.
“We’re 100 percent dedicated to Greenfield,” Gilmer said. “There’s no option here. We can’t just quit; we have to rebuild.”
Frank Mecklenburg still has a lot of thinking to do.
Like his friends at Tangles and PopIndy, his Burdock Boutiques — a specialty flea market in which each booth is curated to be its own vendor, offering vintage, up-cycled, recycled, antique and handmade goods — was damaged by the fire that started in Mueller Auto Body.
Though the flames from the auto shop never reached Mecklenburg’s store, the smoke and the water from the fire department’s hoses did a number on the place. The back storage room of the shop was mostly destroyed and the roof suffered heavy damage.
Roughly 40 days have passed, and he’s still processing it all, Mecklenburg said.
He hasn’t decided what do. He hasn’t officially shuttered the shop’s doors; but he hasn’t decided whether to reopen either.
Mecklenburg and his wife decided they’d take the holidays to just focus on their family, to not let the fire ruin their spirits. Once the New Year rings in, they’ll think a bit harder about what to do next, he said.
Mecklenburg’s end of the Riley Park Plaza is currently under repair. He and his roughly 30 vendors were able to safely enter the shop and collect their belongings soon after the fire.
Everyone is doing well, Mecklenburg said of his merchants, and they’ll all go on selling their wares as they did before Burdock Boutique opened last year.
They’ll come out on the other side of this just fine, he said.
“We’re still processing all of it,” Mecklenburg said. “We had a small family-run store, and we loved it.
“We certainly don’t want to see it go away. But in a few months we might feel differently.”