Uncertainty eases for Gatlinburg businesses still standing after wildfires

Photo: WKRN

GATLINBURG, Tenn. (WKRN) – Any economy depends on people spending money, but for businesses in Gatlinburg, there was much uncertainty after the devastating wildfires nearly six months ago.

News 2 spoke with a couple businesses that had to close their doors immediately after the fire, but say they’re looking forward to getting back on track for the summer season.

“The mountains are not going anywhere,” said Dan Booth.

And neither is Booth, who owns the Hayloft in Gatlinburg.

PHOTOS: Wildfires in East Tennessee

Photo: WKRN

“We have people who come in and say, ‘We thought it all burned’ and we tell them, ‘No, look’ and we have to sow them where the fire was,” he said.

For Shannon Faulkner and Joey Pulley it’s business as usual at Cooter’s, but they were uncertain how business would be affected after the fires ripped through Gatlinburg, closing the city.

“Gatlinburg took a pretty big hit after the fires,” Faulkner said. “A lot of people weren’t sure what was left.”

Once Gatlinburg reopened for business, owners said it was initially slow. But now, six months later, things are shaping up.

Photo: WKRN

“Business is picking up quite a bit. There in the beginning it was a little slow, but like today you had to wait on me to do this interview and business has been very good,” Booth said.

Pulley added, “Business has been slow, but it has slowly started to pick up. We are looking forward to a very busy 2017 season.”

The message to tourists is clear – the fires did cause destruction, but Gatlinburg is rebuilding one day at a time.

“Word has gotten out and word has gotten around that Gatlinburg is still here. It is as fun as it ever was and people are and people are coming back,” Faulkner said.

Neither of the businesses News 2 spoke to suffered major damage from the fire. More than 2,500 structures were destroyed in the fire.

Click here for complete coverage of the Sevier County wildfires.