BY HANNAH LESTER
The Gallery at Railroad is recovering.
As Maffia’s next door neighbor, The Gallery, has had over a month now to deal with the damage from the downtown Opelika fire.
Maffia’s burned down on July 21, leaving no remains to the business that only reopened earlier this year.
Southern Crossing, Maffia’s other next door neighbor, also had to close due to severe water and smoke damage.
The Gallery experienced less damage than Southern Crossing but has still been closed the last month.
“I’ve said all along, it could be so much worse,” said Debbie Purves, owner of The Gallery. “It’s going to be a long process but in the end, I’ll have a beautiful building to go back to.”
Purves commended the Opelika and Auburn fire departments for the work they did — no other structures burned on June 21.
Purves said that she only lives about six blocks from the shop. The morning after the fire, she was given a heads-up to go check on her business, having been told that Maffia’s suffered a fire.
“This is like about 6:30, 6:15,” she said. “I went down thinking it was just going to be like a kitchen fire and going to make sure that the back door was locked and … I was just like ‘oh my gosh.’”
Purves said that The Gallery suffered no structural damage and only minor water damage. Smoke damage was the main culprit, she said.
Following renovations, Purves has high hopes to be open again by Christmas. However, until then, The Gallery will hopefully operate out of 8th and Rail starting in September.
“[The people from 8th and Rail] have been wonderful for me,” she said. “[They] have just gone overboard being nice and helpful.”
The Gallery will reopen soon and in the meantime, Purves is just waiting on the cleaning crew and is ready to organize the racks. She will prepare displays, etc.
“We’ll be putting it on social media when we start to, when we figure out a date for opening,” she said.
The 8th and Rail owners are not the only supportive community members; Opelika has rallied around The Gallery.
“We live in the most wonderful community on this earth,” she said. “It’s easy to take it for granted when in those wonderful times when you don’t have anything going on that is a shocker in your life, but when that does happen, you’re just thankful.”
Purves said that after 42 years in business, she will take the opportunity to update a bit while doing the renovations.
“I’ll use this as an opportunity for a refreshing of the store,” she said. “ … We’ll be back brighter and better than ever … Don’t let our temporary absence let you forget about us. Southern Crossing and The Gallery are working as hard as we can to get back and get open to have our presence back downtown.”