VALDOSTA, Ga. (WALB) - After a fire destroyed his family’s business, just days before Christmas in 2018, the owner of Valdosta Furniture and Mattress rebuilt and has reopened.
Ready to ring in 2021 with a fresh start.
“I get a phone call actually from a neighbor here over at local restaurant 306 North and she says ‘David, I’m not sure but I think your building may be on fire.’ And she’s like, ‘I’m not sure. It’s either you or it’s the church,’” said David Brooks, the owner.
About a minute later, he received a call from the 911 dispatch that his business was on fire.
“We were, maybe, a mile away. You can see the big cloud of smoke. At that point I said there is no way this is going to be good,” said Brooks.
As they got closer, he saw the flames.
Half of the building was engulfed in red and all Brooks could do was stand and watch, feeling hopeless.
He asked the firefighter if he could possibly help save the original building.
They did. Which is the location that stands now.
In 2001, they had purchased the buildings beside it and expanded the showroom.
Brooks said there was a ton of damage and nothing was salvageable.
“But of course, as time went on, then it really started to set in what we were facing. It was pretty monumental as far as the recovery and the rebuild and tearing it all that down that had to be done. It was tough,” said Brooks.
Furniture, sales records, electronics — everything was gone.
Up to this day, two years later, the cause is still unknown.
But Brooks said there are two theories. He said the fire department believes it started in the air conditioning handler as it could’ve overheated. The second theory, Brooks pointed out, is that some say they saw a figure around a stack of cardboard boxes and might have lit it. The air handler was near that area as well. But no one knows for sure.
“At that point, I really didn’t know 100% overall what was going to happen with all the space, but I did know 100% that I wanted to come back. It’s furniture. It’s what I’ve been doing for a long time and genuinely really what I love to do,” said Brooks.
The last two years he spent trying to rebuild the store and spending time with family — something that wouldn’t be possible while running a business.
But he is glad to be back.
Brooks said they were ready to open in March but the pandemic hit. Then, he had to prolong the reopening because of inventory and shipment delays for the showroom.
After a month of being open, Brooks said the community has been very supportive and everyone is glad to have the store back.
“Ultimately it can be tough. What I went through these last couple of years, (with) depressions. There was some sort of dark months in there that I sort of had to get through. And at some point, I did get through that and realized that it’s time to get on with it. If I’m going to have a business and a life, it’s time to get on with it. So, basically, I had to lift myself up, knowing that there was something good on the other side. Knowing that there is an end to the means basically,” said Brooks.
Today, they are back to the original building, where his dad started in 1978.
An official grand opening is expected in January.