Ready to sell again

For more than three months, Ready to Wear Again consignment store owner Mischelle Guthrie had a motto: "Out of the ashes, the Phoenix rises."

And rise it did. Next door.

Since the beginning of the year, the consignment store, specializing in vintage clothing and accessories, has been open for business next to the gutted remains of its original location of 37 years.

On Sept . 20 of last year, Mrs. Guthrie was on her way home after working at the store on a Saturday afternoon when she got a call from the alarm company.

"I was in my car with my dogs, and they called and said my fire alarm was going off," she recalled. "I told them it couldn't be, that I had just left there. I didn't believe it, until I got back and the smoke was black and billowing," she said.

The fire quickly consumed the store, located in a small shopping center off Central Avenue, and although fire fighters put out the blaze in a few minutes, the damage was done.

"We had just finished our Halloween decorations. We lost everything because of the soot, and then it rained so we weren't able to save anything," she said. "For a month, I couldn't come up here and not cry, I had lots of personal things here."

Even though she was not responsible for sellers' items, she says she was still under-insured.

"It has been an absolute nightmare. It took a long time to reopen, but I've always thought I was tenacious, and my employees stuck with me," she said.

She says business has been slow to come back around.

"It's still not where it was and we're advertising which is something we've never had to do before. But for the most part, my customers have been loyal and understanding," Mrs. Guthrie said, who has owned the store since December 2007.

"You just have to plug on and forge ahead," she said.