IT'S business as usual for a row of shops in the Crow Wood area of Widnes, which have reopened after being forced to close in the wake of a firebomb attack.
The block of shops on Warrington Road are up and running after the occupiers spent months making arrangements to claim on their insurance where possible and get re-pair jobs done.
The traders were forced to close overnight when a petrol bomb was thrown into a flat above the shops. The blaze ripped through the upper floor and the shops below caught fire. One shopkeeper described how the flat above fell through the ceiling into her shop below.
The traders said water jets used by firefighters caused further damage to the buildings and their condition was made even worse when they were left open to the elements for several months.
Shopkeeper Sam Hewitt said five businesses - a florist, a vet's, a news-agent, a sunbed salon and chemist's - are now open to the public once again.
And the shopkeepers are looking forward to their customer base growing.
She said: 'For about a year there were not even any roofs on the shops and the rain caused even more damage.
'We all had to make separate arrangements for the repairs and there were a few problems as our insurance claims were going through. I had to pay for my building myself.
'But I am relieved that the customers are now coming back, albeit slowly.
'Before the fire we were a big video store with customers coming from quite far away but we need to let people know we are now open again.
'My trade is picking up slowly at the moment so it is a bit worrying but it is good to be back in business after the bombing, which meant the shops couldn't be used for about a year.'
Another shopkeeper said: 'Some of the shopkeepers have paid themselves to do up their premises, others have claimed on their insurance.
'It is really good to be trading again and the customers are coming back. These shops are at the heart of the community and I think people will welcome us back.'