KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT)- Some of the rebuilding in Gatlinburg includes areas that weren’t touched by the flames, but are feeling the effects of the fires. The Arts and Crafts Community is hoping visitors don’t forget about them.
“It’s really a neat place to come really relaxing,” said Lori Steele who owns a shop called Farmhouse Mercantile in the community.
“We would have a couple hundred people wandering through here during the season every day. We were down to the rest of the December we would see maybe a dozen people,” said Steele.
“We do need people to know the Arts and Crafts are here. A lot of these places have been here for 80 years they’ve been doing these things their entire lives,” she said.
Sparky Newmeier has been blowing glass and making creations for almost three decades.
“I’m still learning after 24 years,” he said he and his wife run the shop that has been there for about 6 years. We had 150 telephone calls after the fire just people making sure Marsha and I were okay.” Even though the flames didn’t reach this community. They’re feeling the impact of the damage left behind. “Please come, please come. Everything will be rebuilt.”
“What really hurt out here was the time of the year the fires came. Obviously right in the middle of the holiday season,” said Steele. Some business owners have downsized to a smaller space. A few even closed their doors. Most of them are finding new ways to advertise. “I’m big on social media. A lot of the other shops are getting into that. We got to get the Tweets out we got to get the posts out.
As they continue to paint, craft and stock their shelves they’ll continue to wait for their loyal visitors to come back. They’re hoping sooner than later. “You built it they’ll come, we’ll rebuild it and they’ll come,” said Newmeier.
“We want our visitors to come back for Spring Break and on through the next year,” said Steele.
The Arts and Crafts Community is an 8 mile loop. It was started in 1937.
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