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Irvington rallies around downtown business after a fire, and then pandemic forced it to stay closed

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – On Saturday morning, Lisa Bennett had a line of customers waiting to shop inside the store she has owned for 10 years.

It was a welcome reminder that Black Sheep Gifts in downtown Irvington is open for business after a fire in neighboring Black Acre Brewing Company forced the gift store to close last December.

“The fact it took us until August is a shock to me,” said Bennett.

The fire happened on the Saturday morning before Christmas.

‘”A friend had called me and said, ‘I’m not sure if I need to tell you this, but Black Sheep is on fire,'” added Bennett.

Unaware of how much damage smoke can cause, Bennett and her husband arrived to the scene and both thought they would be back open in a few hours.

Bennett says while that didn’t happen, her customers still showed up to shop in the dark to show their support. The store also has a pop-up store down the street for the holidays so Bennett was able to ring up customers from there.

“At first I thought we were going to open in a couple hours, then I thought maybe tomorrow, and then it was more like hopefully the first of the year, said Bennett.

But that didn’t happen either. COVID-19 hit Indianapolis, shutting down the city.

“Everything was delayed more. We couldn’t get workers and we didn’t know how long this was going to all last,” Bennett added.

Customers say the fire and then the pandemic only made Lisa’s love for her store and the community stronger.

“She would do Facebook lives from the pop-up store to sell, she made home deliveries, and she did it all with a smile,” said Lisa’s sister Tracey Collier.

If you ask Lisa, the store survived because Irvingtonians showed up. The night of the fire, at her pop-up store that kept money coming in, and on her Facebook lives.

“When you have a store and someone in the neighborhood that gives back so much personally and financially, how can you not support that,” said Dawn Briggs who has been shopping at Black Sheep Gifts since they opened.

Bennett says she gets teary eyed thinking about all the community support because without them, she would not be here.

‘Here’ is fresh paint on the walls, new merchandise on the shelves, and the next generation of local shoppers.

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