MONTCALM TOWNSHIP — A longtime local Greenville business that continues to make comeback after comeback has officially opened its doors again after recovering from a devastating fire nearly one year ago.
There were no ribbons to cut, no flashing lights and little evidence of any kind that a grand-reopening was occurring at Nelson’s Speed Shop at 4566 N. Greenville Road, north of Greenville Saturday afternoon.
That is, unless you count the dozens of customers that flooded the new building just moments after the doors opened for the first time at 9 a.m.
For owner Jack Nelson, it was a nostalgic feeling — business as usual.
“It’s a great feeling, all of the public has been very excited and has wanted us to rebuild, which has been a good feeling,” he said. “To finally be able to open the doors, have customers come in and have units in the showroom. It’s been a long overdue grind for all of us and the people showing up today makes it nice.”
On June 22, about 75 firefighters from 11 fire departments responded to Nelson’s Speed Shop just north of Greenville at 1:30 a.m. in response to a fire that had consumed the rear portion of the building.
By sunrise, the entire building was a complete loss.
The fire was not deemed suspicious in nature by Montcalm Township Fire Chief Cliff Dickinson, however, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF) was called in to investigate the fire because of a Sept. 17, 2001, fire that was set around 1:40 a.m., destroying the previous Nelson’s Speed Shop at the same location.
“It’s still undetermined,” Nelson said of the cause of the fire. “I talked to the (ATF) agency one week ago and they are still working on it diligently. They still have some leads that they are checking out, but at this point in time they are still classifying it as an undetermined fire.”
Nelson said he is just appreciative of all of his customers and employees, who he considers family, who have been so supportive throughout the rebuilding process.
“We want to thank everyone that has supported us throughout this last year,” he said. “Over the years your customers become your friends and it’s really nice to see everyone welcome us back.”
According to Nelson, the new facility is significantly smaller than the previous building. Nelson said he wanted to create a warmer feeling for his customers when they enter his business.
“The most obvious thing is this is a smaller store, probably less than half of what it was before,” he said. “But the key thing that we wanted to bring back into this store was a cozier, warmer feeling. We wanted to bring in the northern-wood type feeling that you find here in Michigan.”
Nelson said wood from cedar trees was used to frame in the interior of the building and wooded sculptures were placed throughout the store to create the new atmosphere.
According to Nelson, the new store also features extra security and additional measures have been taken to avoid another fire.
“I can’t go into much detail, but we’ve upped the security more and there’s been preventative measures taken to avoid another fire in the future.”
Customers such as Larry and Linda Christensen of Sheridan, who purchased a John Deere lawnmower Saturday morning, were glad to see Nelson’s Speed Shop once again open for business.
“I’ve been buying John Deere lawnmowers here for years,” Larry Christensen said. “The new store is very nice. It’s great for the business, and the community, to be open again.”
“I really like the entrance to the store,” Linda Christensen said. “It’s a very nice new building.”
As for what lies ahead in the future for the business, Nelson said he’s hoping things just continue to go as normally as they can.
“We hope this new establishment continues for everybody,” he said “We’re bouncing back, we’ve got a few bumps yet and still have some things that need to be ironed out, but for the most part I think we’ll be back up to speed soon.”