By Hannah Lester
Southern Crossing is learning how to move forward.
The business owners, Mike and Valerie Smith, held a live video update last week to share with patrons and community members the future of Southern Crossing following the Maffia’s fire.
Southern Crossing will be moving into a new space in downtown Opelika in October.
“We both first want to say a huge thank you to all of you who have shown all of your love and support,” Valerie said. “We have really felt it. The messages, the text messages, just everybody calling and checking on us in every way they can, and loving us, the prayers, the well wishes — we just cannot thank you enough. And it’s been a rollercoaster but we’re definitely all good, and we definitely see where God is leading us in all of this.”
The Maffia’s fire did not cause burning in any other structure, but firefighters had to fight the fire through Southern Crossing, causing severe water damage. There was also smoke damage and live mold, Valerie said.
Because of the damages, the business lost both use of the building and everything within it, she added.
“There’s not enough that we can say good about the Opelika Fire Department,” Valerie said. “They are the true heroes in all of this. The fact that we only lost one structure in that fire is just amazing. It’s a miracle. It’s nothing more or less. So the kindness and compassion that the Opelika Fire Department showed us that day, I will never forget.”
Southern Crossing will move into a building on South 8th Street in downtown Opelika in October next to Zazu’s Gastropub. The building is part of Opelika Main Street’s business incubator program.
“Opelika Main Street has been gracious enough to offer us a chance to be the first retail incubator space in this gorgeous new building that they are remodeling,” Valerie said.
The building is located where Heritage Gifts & Gourmet used to operate.
“We are really excited to welcome y’all back into downtown in an in-person store,” said Ken Ward, president of Opelika Main Street. “… [The business incubator] is a really unique project here in downtown Opelika. The property will be a retail space for retail incubators or businesses that have experienced losses or things like that that need a space here in our downtown.”
Southern Crossing will have online sales between now and October, which will require registration, Mike said. There will also be a website and app coming, Valerie said.
“It’s so nice to be out here and knowing that we’re talking to our customers, and we really cannot wait to see you all face-to-face very soon,” Valerie said. “… Our goal is to get back and see our customers’ faces and interact with them.”
Valerie said that the shop won’t be open every day of the week, but more information on days and hours will come soon.
“We’re ordering back our favorite brands, our reps are wonderful, working diligently with us on that,” she said.
Valerie said that she and Mike do hope to be back in their original space eventually.
“It’s going to take a while, so we just didn’t want to go dormant for a year, if it takes that long, or more,” she said. “So we wanted to be able to do what we love to do, and serve the people we love and the community that we love and that has embraced us. And we’re just so grateful for all things downtown Opelika, and Opelika Fire Department and Opelika Main Street.
“Just, without everybody’s generosity, and kindness and compassion, we don’t know what we’d be doing now.”