After more than three tenacious years of doing business from tents and small buildings, Country Junction finally has a permanent home again.
And owner Jim Everett has nearly reached his "Emerald City."
The newly-constructed Country Junction store, located along Route 209 in Forest Inn, Towamensing Township, is open for business.
Officials say the store isn't fully stocked yet and that the opening is basically so that the merchandise on hand can be put under roof.
A grand opening is planned for May.
The original Country Junction, which was acclaimed the "World's Largest General Store," was leveled by fire on Oct. 3, 2006.
Groundbreaking for the new store was held last July 3. At that event, Everett led a march of family members, employees, and friends down a "yellow brick road," from the gates of the petting zoo to the location where the new store was to be constructed.
The yellow brick road was symbolic of the road Dorothy traveled in the classic movie, "The Wizard of Oz," to reach the Emerald City where she would meet the wizard.
The new store was constructed on the site of the former store.
Bob Everett, warehouse manager, said it feels good having a permanent location again.
An occupancy permit was obtained.
"We got everything done so we could open it," he said. "Right now it's less than half full of stuff. We're getting new merchandise every day.
"We're pretty much open for everybody to get a sneak peak," he said, proudly assessing, "It looks pretty good."
After the devastating fire that October morning, Jim Everett kept the store functioning by moving all operations to a large all-weather tent and various other structures. The fire was a multimillion dollar loss.
The owner said at the groundbreaking last July that he anticipated the opening of the new store to be by April 1, so the opening is well in advance of that projection.
The building which burned was a 170,000-square-foot structure.
The new site has about 50,000 square feet, but has been constructed so that it could be expanded in the future.
Despite the overwhelming loss the fire caused, Everett continued hosting its widely acclaimed-annual "Pumpkin Patch" each October, which features rides, Halloween themes including characters, and, of course, pumpkins.
It also has maintained its petting zoo, which has a variety of animals, and a playground for small children.
Everett said at the groundbreaking that a farmer's market is planned for weekends and a playground will be centered around the Pirate Ship.