Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 3, 2006

company transforms former store

By Angie Long

Yet another empty building in Greenville has been given new life. Broker Debbie Martin has moved her realty business from uptown to the old Tom Thumb building at 846 Fort Dale Road.

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The former convenience store has been completely transformed into an attractive suite of offices, complete with a comfortable lobby area, a spacious conference room, a fully equipped kitchen, private restrooms and plenty of storage areas.

It's great to have so much &#8220elbow room,” Martin said.

&#8220We only had about 500 square feet of space at Commerce Plaza uptown, and we long ago outgrew that location.”

Debbie Martin Realty, Inc. now has more than quadruple the space – 2,600 square feet – in its new location.

The business owner had originally planned to build a new office in a vacant lot in uptown Greenville.

When her husband Earl, of Martin-Campbell Construction Company, couldn't fit the construction of the new office space into his busy schedule, Martin found another option.

&#8220When this place (the Tom Thumb building) was listed with us and I came to see it, I knew it would be perfect for our needs,” she said.

It could also be perfect for others in the community.

The large conference room, which features a serving bar, will be available the public for rental on a daily basis, Martin said.

&#8220We have it set up so people can enter and exit from a separate entrance, and catering will be available. It could be a great alternative spot for business people or organizations to use for meetings, workshops or meals.”

The rehab of the 37-year-old building started in April, with Martin and her team of Realtors, Diane Spann, Elise Womack and Susan Rhodes, able to move in by mid-June.

The new location offers plenty of front door parking for customers and a rear parking area for the staff.

&#8220We have the best of both worlds here – we are convenient to downtown and very accessible to I-65 traffic, too,” Martin said. Rhodes said the foot traffic into the office has &#8220tripled” since the move to the new location.

&#8220We are a lot easier to find these days. People see the sign out front and they are coming in to us.”

With easier access and a high-profile location, Martin is also geared for growth in the business, which she has owned since 1998.

&#8220We have two extra offices just waiting for new additions to the Debbie Martin Realty family,” she said.

Martin and her staff invite the public to stop in and take a tour of their new &#8220digs.”

&#8220One more thing I really love about this place. We now have one less empty building in Greenville, and that's a positive thing,” she said with a smile.