OTTAWA -- After more than two-and-a-half years of waiting and rebuilding, The Heart of the Valley Gift Shop reopened its doors in Dunrobin on Friday for customers.

"It is the end of a very long journey," said Jodie Bowen, owner of The Heart of the Valley Gift Shop.

"And I am so grateful to my shop back, my staff back… and my stuff back!"

The gift shop operates inside a yurt right beside landmark The Heart and Soul Café on Dunrobin Road. The business has been part of the community for more than 30 years.

In September 2018, the shop was destroyed by the devastating tornadoes that hit Ottawa's west end. The café was heavily damaged and was able to reopen shortly after, but the gift shop could not be saved.

The shop moved into a temporary trailer on the property. But insurance delays and construction delays continued to set back rebuilding the yurt.

Then, the COVID-19 pandemic hit, delivering another devastating blow to plans to rebuild.

"It delayed it because we weren’t allowed to reopen,." says Bowen.

Finally, after months of waiting, Jodie’s son Matt, along with his team, was able to construct the yurt.

"It is nice to be back to close to where we were before the tornado hit, it is a big thing for my family," says Matt.

Employee Kathleen Murdie says she is happy to be back working.

"It has been part of my life for 20 years. It feels like home when I am here. It is a second home," said Murdie.

Customers took no time to come back. Deborah McCullogh came from Orléans.

"(I am) ecstatic! We have missed it in the last couple of years and my plan is to do Christmas shopping for my grandkids," said McCullogh.

Even though it took more than two years to get to this day, Bowen says her heart is finally full again.

"It is so awesome. So awesome!"