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Ontario antiques shop announces permanent closure after summer fire

Firefighters say crews were on scene on Longwoods Road for over five hours on Tuesday. Strathroy-Caradoc Fire Department

The BrickYard Antiques and Restaurant in Mount Brydges, Ont., near London, will be closing permanently.

The owner of the landmark commercial building on Longwoods Road suggested that damage from a June 6 fire was too great to recover from.

“I have already started over numerous times with COVID and with all the shutdowns. It’s just been really hard,” Diane Whitney says.

“I just don’t have it in me to do it all over again. I would literally be starting over from scratch. Everything would need to be redone — absolutely everything inside.”

The fire resulted in the loss of an entire building or about a third of the store and smoke damage in surrounding buildings was severe, Whitney says.

“From the road, everything (looks) OK. So a lot of people don’t understand when they drive by the extent of the damage, as the rest of the building also filled with smoke. And the second section, which had about 23 to 25 vendors in it, they also basically lost all of their things as well.”

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A Facebook post announcing the news had more than 100 comments by noon Monday, with many sharing fond memories of the antiques shop and expressing condolences over its closure.

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Whitney says that after five years in business, it’s the sense of community that she is most grateful for and will miss the most.

“It’s hard just because I know what the place meant for everybody. It was definitely a gathering place,” she says.

“We made sure that everybody felt seen when they came in. And I love talking to everybody. Our staff was great, our vendors were great. We had more than 90 vendors that were working together in the store to make it what it was, and it was really about the experience of the place.”

Those vendors have known for a few weeks prior to the public announcement that the antiques store would be closing permanently.

Whitney says it’s “not an easy time to be in business,” but “it’s been a really great experience overall that I would not change for anything in the world. Not everything is within our control and I am excited about what will come next.”

She did not share any specific plans but says what comes next for her is simply recovering “from all of this.”

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The fire broke out around 8:30 a.m. on June 6. At the time, the Strathroy-Caradoc Fire Department pegged damage at $250,000 but noted that “the exceptional response of the suppression crew managed to contain the fire in one building.”

Three months later, Whitney believes the true impact of the damage is closer to $500,000.

“The estimate I would say was low. I think especially for all of the items that were lost as well as the cost to rebuild would be easily double what was estimated.”

Click to play video: 'Fire at historic antique shop and restaurant outside of London, Ont.'
Fire at historic antique shop and restaurant outside of London, Ont.

Video from a bystander submitted to Global News showed heavy smoke coming from the building and growing flames.

No injuries were reported and the cause of the fire remains unknown.

When asked for any updates on the cause and about whether the initial damage estimate of $250,000 still stood, Maddy Alcaidinho with the Strathroy-Caradoc Fire Department said Monday that “we do not have any further information.”

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