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Millies Drapery & Decorating hopes to reopen at old location, nearly a year after fire
Family business has operated since 1968
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Keith Edwards sews pieces of fabric Wednesday afternoon for a client's ottoman at Millie’s Drapery & Decorating. After fire destroyed the longtime Gainesville business in August 2016, the team moved to a temporary location across from Publix on Thompson Bridge Road. In August the team will move back to their original Cleveland Highway site in a new building.

Working in tight spaces for the past year, Millie’s Drapery & Decorating hopes to be back at its old location off Cleveland Highway by mid-July.

The business has operated at 1223 Thompson Bridge Road since Aug. 9, when an overnight accidental fire — thought to be electrical in nature — consumed the old building.

“We’re coming back, and we’ll be better in the end,” office manager Chris Kinsey said during a tour of the new building Wednesday.

“People lose their homes every day to fire, and they don’t have a bed to go home to. We still have a bed to go home to at night. So, we feel like God’s really blessed us.”

Millie’s was able to quickly find its temporary location, an old pool supply business across from the Publix-anchored shopping center, and reopen mere weeks after the fire.

“It’s a very visible location,” said Kinsey, son of co-owners John and June Kinsey.

“Even though it’s a lot smaller than what we’re used to — we’ve been on top of each other for the last nine months — to be visible was the biggest thing.”

He said the business has thrived in its temporary spot.

“Our first quarter this year was the busiest first quarter we’ve had in several years,” Kinsey said.

Still, memories of the fire linger.

“By the time we got up here, (the building) was pretty much fully engulfed,” Kinsey said. “We’re just thankful it was in the middle of the night, not while people were here. Nobody was hurt; no firefighters were hurt.”

At the time of the fire, John Kinsey felt certain about the business’ future at its location at 1732 Cleveland Highway, south of Clarks Bridge Road.

“We’ll start again,” he told The Times.

Millie’s has been a family business since 1968, started by Chris Kinsey’s great-aunt Mildred. His parents bought it in 1980.

The Cleveland Highway location has been the home of the business since it moved from Thompson Bridge Road in 1998, John Kinsey has said.

After the fire, he said the business would be in touch with customers who had orders.

“We will take care of them,” he said.

Chris Kinsey said that was high priority, along with taking care of employees.

Chattahoochee Group of Clermont was the contractor on the rebuild, he said.

A grand reopening is planned for Aug. 9 — one year to the day after the fire.

“We just want to say thank you to the community for sticking with us through this and just show off our new, pretty building we’ve been blessed with,” Chris Kinsey said.

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