Nearby businesses after fire: Downtown sticks together

By Kelly McCarthy

April 30, 2014 Updated May 1, 2014 at 10:06 AM EST

Binghamton, N.Y. (WBNG Binghamton) Many downtown business owners have built their businesses alongside the Ellis Brothers and said their relationships are more like family rather than competitors.

The Ellis Brothers Furniture store is one of the oldest businesses in downtown Binghamton, opening in the early 1900s.

"I came downtown to find that it was Ellis Brothers Furniture on fire, one of Binghamton's oldest institutions," said Michael Libous of Michael Libous Salon.

Over the years, the Ellis family has made life-long friendships in other businesses along the downtown corridor.

"It is a very tight business community," said Bruce Boyea, CEO of Security Mutual, "And that's what makes Binghamton special- people do care."

Owners of businesses, like Sall-Stearns and Michael Libous Salon, said they often get clients from the the Ellis Brothers and refer their clients over to the furniture store. They compare the downtown business relationship to more like a neighborhood.

"A fire can destroy a building but you gotta be careful; you don't want to destroy somebody's spirit or their heart," said Ron Sall, owner of Sall-Stearns.

Many of the businesses agree the fire could have happened in any one of the old historic buildings downtown.

"If i know the Ellis'...," Libous said, "As fast as they can that store will be reopened as if nothing happened."

What Libous and other business owners predicted is in fact true; the fire on Wednesday did not wipe out the Ellis Brothers business.

According to the Ellis family, the main building will be open Thursday for regular business hours.

Charles Ellis said the family has every intention of rebuilding "where it stands."

Ellis said the Water Street building, which housed the contemporary store, is very sentimental to the family. Ellis Brothers founder Moussad Ellis bought the building as a gift for his son Thomas when he returned from service in World War II. It originally opened as Thomas Furniture Mart.