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Popular Southwest Detroit department store reopens nearly four years after devastating fire

Popular Southwest Detroit department store reopens nearly four years after devastating fire
Popular Southwest Detroit department store reopens nearly four years after devastating fire 02:32

(CBS DETROIT) - The owners of a family-owned department store in Southwest Detroit are happy to be back open after a devastating fire forced them to close nearly four years ago.

"It's been a long journey."

From Nice Price to worst nightmare, co-owner Ahmad Al-Hasan says watching the business his father built burn down in 2019 still shakes him to his core.

"In 1998 we opened here in Southwest (Detroit). I was 13," Al-Hasan says. "On Sunday, April 9th 2019, we got a phone call that there was smoke everywhere. So by the time we got here was about 35 minutes after. It was too late."

And just when Al-Hasan thought things could not get any worse, it did.

"Twenty-four hours later the fire marshal said we have to demo the building. That was the second bad news I got," Al-Hasan says.

The store, which is filled and fully furnished from wall-to-wall with home goods, kitchenware, toys, gifts, clothing and more, has become a staple along Vernor Highway.

So much so, it left Al-Hasan almost in tears when the store held its grand reopening over the weekend.

"On Saturday, I was very emotional. We were grateful the city, the mayor, everybody joined the celebration. The local mosques," Al- Hasan says.

However, Al-Hssan says his story began far before the fire, it started back home in Jordan where it all began.

"This is 1994. This is our largest store in Jordan. This is my father and this is me. This is a grand opening of a store almost 30 years ago," Al-Hasan said as he pointed to a picture posted in his office.

 In 1997, Al-Hassan went from stocking the shelves back home to moving to a new one.

"A couple of my siblings were already coming here for college so my dad decided everybody is moving from Jordan to Sterling Heights," Al-Hasan says.

Then a year later in 1998, Nice Price was born.

"My dad said we are going to put tables and open, no shelves. We are just going to open and and let it ride and we did," Al-Hassan said laughingly.

In 2015, nearly 20 years later, it was time for Al-Hasan to take over the family business.

"I left my job and came back to give my dad a retirement," he said.

But little did Al-Hasan know that four years later, he would be faced with having to build from the ground up just like his father did 25 years ago.

"For me 2019, I was 35 years old. It was a big shock. To my family Nice Price was not a business, it was not my job, it is where we did everything," he said.

 But with a lot of patience and little to no sleep, "Talk about a kid on a Christmas eve-night. That was me on Friday night."

Al-Hasan finally reopened the very store that helped mold him into a man his father can be proud of.

"In a traditional Arabic saying, 'The store step of the front door means a lot whether it's your house or business and this front door meant a lot to us. This was where it all started," Al-Hasan said.

Since the fire in 2019, Nice Price has expanded to four stores in-and-around the Detroit area including in Dearborn and Hamtramck.

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