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Chester County Press

After the flood II: Marche grand reopening held on Nov. 1

11/12/2019 01:39PM ● By Richard Gaw

By Richard L. Gaw

Staff Writer

As morning turned into afternoon and with the big evening ahead looming in the near distance, Deanna Johnson of Marche in Kennett Square prepared for the official reopening of her State Street store on Nov. 1.

A table in the rear of the store was neatly arranged with wine for the large crowd that was anticipated to arrive in a few hours, and Johnson welcomed the arrival of trays of vegan appetizers from Altruist Foods. Beyonce blared on the store’s sound system, and the home ideas and lifestyle boutique was festively dotted with reminders that the holidays will soon be arriving, and everything – every piece of clothing, every home design accessory and every trinket – seemed perfectly in place.

The splendor of perfection was in far contrast to the events of Aug. 5, when Johnson received a phone call from store manager Robin Doordan that a flood was occurring in the front of the store. Moments later, Johnson arrived at Marche to find Doordan using a bucket to lap up the water that was seeping through light fixtures above and, using towels that she had borrowed from a neighbor, Johnson began to sop up the water that was cascading down the store walls, then quickly ran next door to Currie Salon to inform them of the flood. It just so happened that a plumber was doing routine work at Currie, and when he inspected the damage at Marche, he traced the flood to a sink in the apartment that is located directly above the store.

Within moments of the flood, Nicole Contro-Pieri, the co-owner of Flood Support – a Kennett Square-based damage restoration business – had arrived at the store with her husband, and work quickly began to clean up the mess. The cause of the flood was traced to a blockage in a two-and-a-half-inch pipe that feeds into the main valve. Because it was blocked, the pipe rerouted the water back to the main drain, forcing it to the nearest and easiest point of removal in this case, an apartment sink.

For the next several weeks, the store was closed, as dehumidifiers worked overtime, walls and ceilings were repaired, and planks of the wood flooring were removed and replaced. The store finally reopened on Oct. 4.

In the words of Yogi Berra, the August flood at Marche was like “déjà vu all over again.”

On March 5, Johnson received a phone call from a Marche employee. There was water coming from the store’s bathroom floor and ceiling. Flood Support helped to mitigate the damage, but on March 20, additional pipes in the store’s basement began to fail that caused a second flood on March 22. The store lost tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of high-end merchandise, and while a portion of its value was covered by insurance, Marche was forced to close its doors for several months.

“I definitely felt like it was surreal, that this cannot be happening again,” Johnson said of the second flood. “Who knows what my business would be if I didn’t have to go through these troubles, but I have been inspired by those who are able to keep me afloat by working with my customers on design projects.

“So, rather than experience any down time, I was hustling to keep the business alive while the store was closed.”

Although Marche’s current lease on State Street expires next year, Johnson said that in a perfect world, she would like to remain in the business community of Kennett Square Borough.

“I really want to stay in this community because I chose to be in this community, and I want to remain in these two blocks, if I am able to,” she said. “I have a great team here, and great customers and local merchants who have always encouraged me to keep going.”

Johnson said that the Nov. 1 grand reopening was the fulfillment of a promise she made to her customers.

“This will be a celebration to my customers and the unity we have all built over the past three years,” she said. “As of now, I don’t know what’s going to happen with the future of Marche and where I will likely move the business, but I know that it will be exciting for me, because it is an opportunity to reinvent the business -- to take all of the information I have learned in the last three years and adjust.

“At this point, I have become the queen of adjusting.”

To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email [email protected].