GRAVENHURST - The first of four main street businesses lost to fires in 2011 is back in permanent surroundings in the heart of downtown.
BACK TO THE HEART..
Gravenhurst IDA Pharmacy co-owners Steven Vandermolen and Katie Keates opened their new, permanent location on Brock Street Feb. 11, in the former Giant Tiger location. They represent the first of four businesses lost to fire in 2011 to return to the main commercial core, having spent the last year working out of smaller surroundings at the south end of town.
Photo by Neil Etienne
The Gravenhurst IDA Pharmacy opened its doors on Brock Street Monday, Feb. 11, just a few doors down and across the street from where the former IDA crumbled to the ground in later 2011. Business co-owners Katie Keates and Steve Vandermolen have spent the last year running their pharmacy out of the Fabricare Plaza while the former Giant Tiger location was being renovated on Brock and on Monday the partners welcomed customers and staff into their new permanent location.
“I like a vibrant downtown and it was very important to us we get right back to the centre of town again,” Vandermolen said. “We love Gravenhurst; we’re vested here and couldn’t be happier to be in the new location.”
Keates said there’s been lots of excited chatter and curious people peeking in the windows of the former Giant Tiger location the past couple of weeks while stock was being loaded on shelves and the final interior tweaks took place.
“Everyone, the staff, the customers, have been so supportive during our transition and we can’t thank them enough for that,” Keates said. “The other location (in the Fabricare Plaza) was good for the time being, but it was a bit too small for what we needed and this new location is so bright and spacious; we’ve got plenty of elbow room now and lots of parking.”
The former Giant Tiger building, long vacant, has been severed into two sections at this point. The pharmacy takes up half of the total 10,000 square-foot building and plans are to section off the remaining 5,000 square feet into two or three more commercial locations.
“We’re really thrilled with how the building turned out; it looks great and I think will help bring more traffic to the main four corners of the main street,” Keates said.
The business partners are also doing their part to reinvigorate the downtown core with the lot where their business burned down. A new structure foundation is already in place and the walls are quickly taking shape on the corner lot at Muskoka Road and Brock.
Keates said there will be space for two, ground-floor offices, an office and two wheelchair accessible apartments upstairs, accessed by an elevator she’s having installed.
If all goes as planned, Keates said the building construction should be complete and ready for tenants by some point in May.
“Gravenhurst is such a great town and we’re so happy to be back at the heart of it,” Keates added.
The pharmacy is celebrating a soft opening this week, but will tentatively hold an official ribbon cutting and opening ceremony on April 5.