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Rising from the ashes: What's next for The Lolly Bug?

Popular Little Hartley business The Lolly Bug was destroyed by fire last week.

It was said to be caused by a lightning strike, and its owners and a community of dedicated customers are still reeling from the shock loss.

But not deterred, its owners say the Lolly Bug - which celebrated 15 years in December - will live again.

FAMILY STICKS TOGETHER: Owners Sharon Tofler (right) with daughter Chloe and grandchildren Mikayla, Brodie and Dakota. Picture: CIARA BASTOW

FAMILY STICKS TOGETHER: Owners Sharon Tofler (right) with daughter Chloe and grandchildren Mikayla, Brodie and Dakota. Picture: CIARA BASTOW

At about 11.15pm on Friday, January 7, the NSW Rural Fire Service was notified of the fire at the store on the Great Western Highway in Little Hartley.

Two trucks from Hartley RFS, one from South Bowenfels RFS and one from both Lithgow and Mount Victoria Fire and Rescue NSW quickly arrived on scene to find a well developed fire within the shop which took firefighters until the early hours of the next morning to get under control.

Lolly Bug owner Sharon Tofler said it's been a tough start to 2022 but that the 'overwhelming' support of the community has buoyed her spirits.

"People have been amazing, we're just overwhelmed with the love and support," Sharon said.

"We always knew we were well known and that - people love coming in here and whatnot but it's just been incredible. Really incredible. It's made it that little bit easier just having all that community support.

DEVASTATED: The gutted interior of the store. Photo: THE LOLLY BUG FACEBOOK PAGE

DEVASTATED: The gutted interior of the store. Photo: THE LOLLY BUG FACEBOOK PAGE

"They've been offering everything from computers to landscaping to coming in and helping clean up. Every second person wants to set up a GoFundMe, which - we don't need to do that. But yeah, it's been incredible."

While it was simply bad luck that caused the lightning strike. Sharon said it was a stroke of good fortune that saved them from losing even more stock that was on its way.

"I'm just so glad that - if it was this coming Friday there would have been at least an extra $80,000 in stock [lost] because we were just restocking with confidence after the COVID lock downs for the school holidays, which is such a busy time for us," Sharon said.

"I've been able to put most of those on hold, some of them are still on the way so we're going to have to find somewhere to store that and hopefully be up and running again before it all goes out of date."

It's still early days but Sharon said she doesn't see the Lolly Bug reopening its premises until at least the end of the year.

"I'm lucky in that my husband and two sons are both builders," Sharon said.

DEVASTATED: Fire gutted the popular Lolly Bug shop on the Great Western Highway. Photo: THE LOLLY BUG FACEBOOK PAGE

DEVASTATED: Fire gutted the popular Lolly Bug shop on the Great Western Highway. Photo: THE LOLLY BUG FACEBOOK PAGE

"It's a family business, my daughter, and I run it. So yeah, because it's family, it's probably going to make it that little bit easier. I've got one other staff member, she's been with us for ten years, hopefully we'll be able to keep her on.

"But it just depends, we're waiting to see what the insurance - how much we're covered with loss of income and, and that sort of thing."

For the time being, The Lolly Bug may live on online. Already established during COVID lockdowns, Sharon and her team are hoping to make up the difference while the site is demolished and rebuilt.

"We only just got through the COVID lockdowns where we basically had six months of no income," Sharon said.

"We're hoping to get permission from Council to pack lollies at home."

This story From the ashes: What's next for The Lolly Bug? first appeared on Lithgow Mercury.