LOCALS showed their excitement for the return of “the heart of the village” at the reopening of the Douglas Village Shopping Centre.
The shopping centre reopened this morning after a 14-month long closure, with a number of essential businesses greeting customers for the first time since the fire in August 2019.
Tesco was the first store to open at 8 am, closely followed by Marks and Spencer other retailers and services deemed as essential.
Speaking on the reopening, Dave Long, Marks & Spencer Douglas Store Manager expressed his excitement.
“It feels fantastic to be reopening the store after 14 months. All of the staff are excited and thrilled to be coming back to Douglas.
“A lot of the staff have been here since day one, almost 11 years and we’re so grateful to be once again serving our community here in Douglas," he said.
“We are thrilled to reopen our store at Douglas Shopping Centre today,” added Dermot Hever, Store Manager, Tesco Douglas.
"I must commend and thank our colleagues who were temporarily re-deployed to our sister stores in Cork, and I know they’re all delighted to be back in the Douglas store serving the customers they know so well."
Julie Campell and her son Flynn McCarthy and her sister Christine Keohane at the reopening of Douglas Village Shopping Centre.
Michael O’Connor from Pharmacy First Plus said that he is glad to back at the shopping centre, following a temporary relocation.
“It was like we never closed,” he said.
“People were filling in and queued up as normal and I suppose everyone is used to the new restrictions and keeping their distance, so people are mindful of that, but it was just brilliant.”
“It’s great to be back… it’s the heart of the village,” he added.
Patrick Bresnan of Bresnan's Family Butchers described the atmosphere as “electric".
"It was absolutely brilliant to have people back in the centre again and there was a real buzz around the place," he said.
“We’re running on pure adrenaline at this stage. It's been a long 14 and a half months and the last six or seven weeks of rebuilding and getting the shop ready has been a struggle, but it's well worth it.
“We're looking forward now to a very productive November, December- and into a bright 2021," added Mr Bresnan.
Retail expert Terry Coleman who worked with the traders following the fire in August said that there was a “sense of relief” amid the reopening.
“The initial upset, anger, sadness that happened originally when the whole place went on fire, it did slowly start to turn in the last few weeks when they realized that the date of the 12 November was going to be achieved,” he said.
“There was a sense of anticipation and they were more than happy to be reopening.”
“We’re just delighted to get back in. It’s been a long 14 months for all of the traders in the centre and we’re delighted that we can greet all of our regular customers again," added Douglas Village Shopping Centre Manager, Bartosz Mieszala.