Ben’s Five and Dime set to reopen Oct. 1

Allison Ullmann - Staff

Jan Pattee pulled a Christmas tree out of a box and started fluffing the branches. Across the store, an employee unrolled bolts of fabric while yet another employee put items away on the shelves.

“What we decided is that Oct. 1 we’re going to open, ready or not,” Jay Pattee said as he looked around the store. “It’ll probably be not because there will be parts of the store where there may still be a few empty shelves. But we will just keep working at it even after we’re open.”

Jay said the process to bring the store back after it closed March 21 from a fire was a long one. The fire, which originated in the rear addition of the building owned by Bacon Jewelers, caused significant smoke damage to Ben’s Five and Dime.

The first part of the process, Jay said, was to take out everything that was smoke damaged. That included all of the store’s inventory, the entire ceiling and the insulation above the ceiling.

The next part included cleaning behind the pegboards and putting them back on the walls. They also had to paint the store in two stages. The first stage, Jay said, was to paint the walls using KILZ paint to remediate the smoke smell. The next was to add color over the white KILZ paint.

Jay added that all of the fixtures had to be removed from the store, cleaned and brought back in again. That brought the Pattees to a point where they were ready to bring merchandise in.

The pair also run Ben’s Five and Dime in Panora. Jay said they spotted items from the Panora store to bring back to the Perry store to help gauge how much space was needed. They also had to order new items to help fill the store.

“The whole store eventually will be completely full of merchandise and it’s well on the way,” Jay said.

Jan made a point to say the store wouldn’t be where it is now without community support. She wanted to thank all of the community members who have spent volunteer time helping in the store.

A group of Perry High School students were recently seen helping to move fixtures during Volunteer Day on Wednesday, Sept. 12.

“Countless community volunteers have come and help us. And the bottom line is we could not have done it, especially in this amount of time, without that help,” Jay said.

Jay and Jan lost track of just how many people came into the store and volunteered their time cleaning and moving merchandise.

“We just want to make sure that everybody who helped knows that we thoroughly appreciate their help,” Jay said.

Jan added that it also wouldn’t have been possible without employees from both the Perry and Panora stores.

Jay and Jan encourage the community to come into the store when it opens on Oct. 1 to see what they have for sale.

“In addition to the things that we always had, we have some really cool, new stuff,” Jan said.

Jay said people will also see a similar mix of items in the departments that were there before the fire. Some of those departments may not be as big, he said, as they did eliminate the basement shopping area.

They also eliminated a counter down the middle of the store and took what they saved in inches to add to the aisles.

“So we have wider aisles and there is no more basement. Everyone can find what they want right upstairs without doing stairs,” Jay said.

As the store opens on Oct. 1, Jan said items will still be missing. She asks that customers continue to be patient and they will do their best to get everything in.