MORGAN COUNTY, Ala. (WAFF) - There are probably few people happier about Highway 231 reopening than the folks who work at Tee Time, it’s a local boutique right along the highway.
Taylor Maxwell has worked at the store for more than two years, but these last eight months have been unlike anything she’s experienced before.
“When it first came about we were thinking three years, two years, so we were thinking longterm, we were going to be shutdown for awhile," she said.
Luckily though, 231 was only closed down for a little less than eight months. A huge difference from what was originally anticipated. Now that it’s open, Maxwell said it’s like Christmas morning.
“I told all them I’ll just be driving back and forth just because I can, going from Huntsville to Arab for no rhyme or reason," she said. "I think it’s going to be crazy, I think people will be excited to just drive, just to go through it.”
But to get to this feeling, there were some hard days. Tea Time is located on the Arab side of the shutdown, but the storefront is after where people turned for the detour.
This meant Tea Time went from having 20,000 cars pass by it everyday to only a fraction of that. Maxwell said there was a lot of concern, but quitting on Tea Time was never much of a thought.
“We’re going to buckle down, we’re going to work more hours, we’re going to do more online sales, we’re going to do more Facebook lives," Maxwell said.
The employees at Tee Time got creative and started getting out in the community and handing out free t-shirts and goodie bags to anyone to try and make sure people didn’t forget about their store.
Now that they’re out of it, Maxwell said it’s a “weight” lifted off their shoulders, not only for the business but also for their lives.
The closure of Highway 231 made drives into Huntsville go from 10 minutes to 40 minutes. Maxwell said she’ll never take a short drive to a restaurant or the mall for granted again.
“We’ve just kind of stopped doing that stuff because it’s such an inconvenience,” she said. “My boyfriend drives the detour everyday and he has just dreaded going to work just because of the drive.”
But now with the new and improved Highway 231 back open, they can get back to their lives and back to business, just in time for their busiest season, too.
“We’ve started to decorate because we’re excited to get people in here, this is our Christmas season, we have Christmas open houses,” Maxwell said. “It’s our busiest, craziest time of the year, but it’s going to feel so much more like the season to have the mountain open and have people in here.”
Brandy Kiel is the owner of Tee Time, she said if it weren’t for the bridges opening ahead of schedule, they might’ve had to close for good.
The original date set for completion was December 2, which was still ahead of schedule for the original concerns of a year long time frame, but it would still mean they’re without a lot of their business during the holiday shopping season. Kiel said opening up in late September is perfect and will be the big boost they need for their storefront sales.