"WE are still very much open for business" vows Joe McKeown, owner of the popular Ballymena Laundry and Dry Cleaning Service which was sadly devastated by an overnight fire last Wednesday, August 27.
The longstanding firm, located at Gilmore Street, was gutted by the blaze, which Joe suspects may be due to a fault with a newly purchased tumble dryer.
Assessors were due to visit the premises on Friday to determine the cause of the fire.
Speaking to the Ballymena Guardian, Joe said: "The incident occurred on Wednesday night. I had locked up for the evening and just happened to be driving by when I saw two fire appliances outside the shop.
"I stopped and asked what the matter was and they told me the shop was on fire.
"I provided access for them and if I hadn't have come along at that point, the fire service would have had to have gained access by whatever means possible.
"It is just one of these unfortunate things. In my 15 years of business, nothing like this has ever happened to me.
"The shop is quite badly damaged. There is a lot of smoke damage and everything needs replaced, including appliances and flooring.
"I am disappointed, the staff are disappointed and our customers are disappointed.
"However, I would assure all customers that their orders will be fulfilled and we are still very much open for business.
"We have acquired temporary equipment and Gerald Duffy from Galgorm Dry Cleaners has come on board and his help has been invaluable. We try to help each other out in times of need and he has proved a very dear friend through this.
"I would like to say a big thank you to all my staff who have worked around the clock to get things up and running again.
"There has been a lot of hard work put in to get the shop to where it is at this point and that is down to the staff.
"It will be a slow process and there is a long road ahead but I am quite a positive person and we will get through this the best we can.
"I want to offer my thanks to the Fire Service, my staff, friends, family and customers for all the support they have given to the business.
"We are absolutely open for business at Gilmore Street and we look forward to welcoming existing and new customers and providing the best service possible."