After the fire, business returns for the Dirtbean in Marlinton

As Marlinton prepares for the annual Christmas parade, one business owner is particularly aware of what a difference one year can bring.

Kristy Lanier, owner of the Dirtbean coffee shop, took a moment from her busy life as a shop owner to reflect on the past year spent recovering and re-opening from the devastating fire in downtown Marlinton in November of 2013.

Lanier owned and lived in the building where her former shop was located and lost almost everything in the fire. She woke up to her apartment filled with smoke and only had time to escape with her car keys and to run back into the building to rescue her dog.

She re-opened Dirtbean on Sept. 25, the 10-year anniversary of the business after substantial renovations to the building on 3rd Avenue, beside the Pocahontas Opera House.

“So yeah there’s a lot that’s been very positive that’s come out of it. People have helped and been great, and I like the new space a lot, as far as, but still you know, I can’t, you know all of November, I think there was a bit of a delayed reaction. I tried not to think about it too much, and there’s people on the anniversary of the fire kind of wanting to talk or say things to me and I couldn’t.

“I actually, coincidently, I didn’t schedule myself off that day on purpose, but it happened to fall on a Monday, and I usually take Mondays off, so I just kind of hid out and did my own thing and accidently referred to it as my birthday when I was talking to myself that day.

“I was like, ‘well I don’t have to go to work, it is my birthday, I can do whatever I want.’ And I realized, ‘wait it’s not my birthday, it’s the anniversary of the fire,’ but I thought that was kind of a funny thought, a funny coincidence. Because it’s been good and bad …

“I’ve had an interesting time this month, kind of flashback to that night, getting out and realizing how close I was to not getting out. And everything I’ve had to do to re-open. I’m still dealing with some insurance struggles, loose ends that haven’t been wrapped up.

“So, it’s not easy, November, when I think about or just little things will remind me. This time last year, I think I was actually involved, they were tearing down my building, New Year’s Eve. I was over there sifting through rubble. So yeah, I have my moments. But I think there’s definitely a lot of good that’s come out of it too,” Lanier said.

At several times throughout the past year she thought she wouldn’t be able to re-open.

“That was the hardest part was can I afford to re-open and if the landlord here hadn’t stepped up and worked with me on some things, I don’t know that I would have been able to re-open,” Lanier said.

“It required me to do an awful lot of renovations and stuff, but since I kind of like doing that kind of stuff and have a fondness for old buildings anyway, it made the most sense. So it all came together but I wasn’t real sure if it was going to happen or not,” she said.

The Christmas parade starts at 7 p.m. at Marlinton Elementary School and ends at the mini-park on First Avenue. Santa Clause will ride through the parade and then visit with kids at the gazebo on Main Street. The Convention and Visitors Bureau will host an open house at their office on Main Street from 6 to 8 p.m., and the Pocahontas County Opera House will sponsor its annual Holiday Craft Show on Friday from 4 to 9 p.m. and on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Story By

Kelly Taber

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