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'It’s kind of surreal:' Bisbee businesses reopen after more than a month of being closed

Posted at 3:40 PM, Apr 10, 2024

BISBEE, Ariz. (KGUN) — There's a different energy on Main Street in Bisbee. People are excited and re-energized now that the community is moving forward and more businesses are opening their doors after the Valentine's Day Fire.

After seven weeks, Amber Avery-Pierce is finally welcoming customers back to her store, Bisbee Soap & Sundry.

“On March 28, there were people standing at our front door that we weren’t expecting, and we saw people walking by," she said. "We realized they suddenly opened the sidewalk. It was a nice surprise.”

Bisbee Soap & Sundry was closed due to safety concerns of the stability of the walls across the street. The five destroyed two buildings across from Avery-Pierce's store. The City of Bisbee hired contractors to remove the loose brick on the second story of the building and add braces to the damaged walls. The work was done so part of the street and sidewalk could be opened.

“It feels good," Avery-Pierce said. "It’s a huge relief."

She and her employees relied on their online store and a table in a neighbor's alley to keep them operational during the closure.

"We made it through being closed, but it was kind of touch-and-go for a while," Avery-Pierce said. "(Opening the doors) means we can get back to normal.”

Avery-Pierce says the community helped keep them afloat during their toughest time, something Angelina Mendoza, from Classic Rock Couture, says is helping them now that they have opened their doors, too.

“Even the day after we closed people were asking when we would open again," Mendoza said. "So we were hoping for a little bit of excitement, which we got.”

She says they had some water damage that had to be repaired before they could open. Mendoza and Avery-Pierce agree that opening the street, even partially, brings a sense of normalcy back to the city.

“I've lived here pretty much my entire life and I’ve never not had the main street," Mendoza said. "We’re glad everything is opened back up and that everyone can make a profit again.”

The business owners that were closed to the public were tested during the last two months, but they are grateful to see customers again. Avery-Pierce says hey have decided to change part of their business model to give back to the community because of the generosity they received. Their first effort: a donation option on their website that will go to the Bisbee Fire Department.

Work is still being done on the back of the damaged building, causing Commerce Street to remain closed.

Alexis Ramanjulu is a reporter in Cochise County for KGUN 9. She began her journalism career reporting for the Herald/Review in Sierra Vista, which she also calls home. Share your story ideas with Alexis by emailing or by connecting on Facebook.