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Downtown businesses react to bridge closing

SELMA — Some will conduct business as usual. Others consider closing for the evening.

All downtown businesses await the impact or lack of from closing the Edmund Pettus Bridge Friday from 6:30 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. for the gospel and praise celebration as part of the voting rights weekend celebration.

“It’s going to hurt business,” said Diane Smitherman, owner of the Restaurant at Grumbles Alley.

She will consider closing the restaurant because she expects a low dinner crowd.

“Closing the bridge affects traffic downtown, whether they are coming from the other side of town or not; it doesn’t matter. If the bridge is closed, people are going to perceive it as a traffic issue and they won’t come to town.”

The closing also overlaps with the  Art Walk at the Frame Shoppe and the Art Guild, scheduled for 5 p.m. until 8 p.m.

“I don’t think it’s going to have a huge impact on us,” said Steve Grossman, owner of the Frame Shoppe. “It’s unfortunate it’s been chosen for the one night we have a night activity. I guess anyone from the other side of the bridge who is concerned about it should come at 5 p.m.”

The Shoe Palace will also be open for the Art Walk and open until 8 p.m.

“I’ll be outside with a table of refreshments,” said Dorita West, owner.

Other businesses are not as worried about the bridge closing.

“Even though the bridge is technically closing, there are plenty of other ways to get here,” said Gavin Moon, general manager at the St. James Hotel. “I don’t think it’s going to have a massive impact on us.”

The hotel will offer dinner from 5:30 until 9 p.m. and will host a family reunion.

Tim Williamson, part owner of Carter Drug Company, is not concerned about the closing because most pharmacy deliveries are on the downtown side of the bridge.

“We don’t do many deliveries over the bridge, so it won’t affect us, especially that late in the evening,” Williamson said. “It’s not a busy time for us.”

Carter Drug will remain open until 8 p.m.

Richard’s Café will still be open for the Friday night buffet from 5 p.m. until 9 p.m.

“We’re going to be open, as usual,” said Orpha Clark, manager. “Maybe we can get some of those people to come over and do karaoke and eat after that.”

Businesses, which normally close before 6:30 p.m., are not concerned about Friday’s event. Shops, such as Butler-Traux Jewelers, Truax & Co., Selma Welcome Center, and Washington Street Market, will close at regularly scheduled hours.

On Time Fashion owner Zuheir Dabit will wait until Friday evening to see if he will extend his hours or close at 6:30 p.m.

“We’ll play it by ear,” Dabit said. “If we get busy, of course we’re not going to close, but if there’s a lot of traffic, we’ll definitely be here until 7:30 p.m. If we’re busy, we won’t close.”