GATLINBURG (WATE) – While so many homes and businesses burned in Gatlinburg during the wildfire, others that were not damaged still suffered as the town was closed for several days in a busy part of the pre-Christmas season.
In the days before Gatlinburg reopened, WATE 6 On Your Side visited a gallery and talked with an owner who said visitors were heeding the call to show their support.
But now, it’s more quiet than usual around the 8-mile loop near the arts and crafts community. Fewer tourists to Gatlinburg, means fewer customers.
Custom Creations by Beth owner Beth Pittser was told by a customer from Indiana that many believe Gatlinburg is “completely burned out.” Pittser says online orders have kept her business running.
Some business owners closed their shops after the fires because sales weren’t high enough during the holidays to stay open.
“The parking lots aren’t full,” said Pitttser. “The hustle and bustle is just not what it normally would be.”
The loop was barely touched by the fires, however, five business owners lost everything.
“We couldn’t get the car out, couldn’t get anything out,” said Linda Morrow. “The cabin was already on fire and I got out with myself and ran.
Morrow lost many of her original works store on CDs. She had the works backed up on her computer, however, it was lost in the fire.
The Artists Attic, is Morrow’s sanctuary. She has around half of dozen customers each day. Last year, the total was double.
“Canceling reservations is the worst thing to do. If they want to help us, keep coming,” says Morrow.
The Gatlinburg community is using social media to remind tourists that stores are open and need business.
Store owners are hopeful that there will be more business during the spring.