On Sept. 12, Smith’s Variety Store, a local business owned by two Samford alumni, celebrated its 70 anniversary with a special in-store event after a difficult summer adapting to new COVID-19 guidelines.
Amy and Brad Simpson became the owners of Smith’s Variety in February and had only owned the business for two weeks before the state COVID-19 mandate required the storefront to close.
“We could do curbside, so we just adapted to that,” Amy Simpson said. “We would pull things up to the front if people wanted to shop. They would come to the door, and we would run items back and forth from the door. We were open curbside only, for quite some time.”
In addition to curbside pickup, Smith’s Variety Store also offered free delivery. Simpson noted that certain items had an increase in sale numbers because of the pandemic. For example, birthday balloons.
“We saw a lot of balloons sell. A lot of people are doing drive-by birthday parties, so we’ve sold more poster boards, markers, car paint and that kind of stuff,” Simpson said.
The busiest time of the year for Smith’s Variety Shop is the Easter season. While the storefront was closed for COVID-19, they had a lot of success custom assembling Easter baskets.
“It’s hard to go online to Amazon and pick up a bunch of random gifts and put it in a basket,” Simpson explained. “You can’t really do that. Whereas, we would take the time to go pull items off of the shelf for people, and send pictures of items, and build the baskets that way.”
Ultimately, Simpson credits the store’s survival during these unprecedented times to the support of the loyal community around them.
“We have generations of families that have shopped with us and those families have been very loyal to us which has been really special. We’ve been blessed as far as having a local clientele that has been really good to support us, even during these tough times,” Simpson said.
Smith’s Variety Store is located only 12 minutes from Samford’s campus at 45 Church St. More information can be found on the companies Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/SmithsVariety/.