Downtown was bustling–then COVID-19

Today’s guest columnist is Sue Johnson.

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Ten years ago this September my husband, Jimmy, and I moved downtown to live and to start a new venture.

We bought an historic old building that we completely restored to hold our loft and our small business, Dog Days of Birmingham.

Downtown was very quiet then, there were some “pioneer people” living in the Loft District, Railroad park was still pushing around dirt, there were very few people walking around on Sundays, there was no grocery store and few restaurants.

SO much has changed…Birmingham is bustling…

…WAS bustling until COVID-19 hit us.

Now, things have changed again.

This is the first time Dog Days has not had a dog hanging out on the roof in 10 years.

Downtown is quiet again… BUT not near as quiet!

The workforce is working remotely, but there are A LOT more people that live downtown now in the Loft District, The Pizitz, the Thomas Jefferson Towers, The Phoenix Lofts.

Downtown is alive with people living and thriving and sheltering in place.

People are having dinner on their rooftops and waving to their neighbors.  People are walking their dogs and walking to the grocery store to get supplies, to the park and exercising on the Rotary Trail.   People are going to pick up food from some of the restaurants offering curbside service and receiving food deliveries.

There is music being played from windows and lights being hung for good cheer.

I am SO very thankful for the helpers in our community:  I serve on the CAP – Community Action Partnership Board of Directors, and our function is to keep the Downtown area Clean and SAFE.

Downtown is quieter and certainly SAFE!  The CAP ambassadors are patrolling night and day to make sure downtown remains safe…thank you CAP!

If you see a CAP ambassador in Light BLUE…honk your horn or, if walking, give them a wave and a big THANK YOU!!!

I am thankful to our Mayor, the City Council, Police Chief Patrick Smith, UAB, United Way, The Community Foundation, the grocery stores and pharmacies, all of the nonprofits, the people helping to get food to those who need it and to those helping our children get the technology they will need to continue their schooling at home.

We have so many needs in our community and so many talents rising to the occasion.

When Jimmy and I closed Dog Days some of our customers purchased boarding and daycare packages not knowing WHEN they would be able to use them. Jimmy and I were brought to tears and feel such a humble sense of gratitude. Dog Days is a small business and we are praying for everyone who has a small business who sees the years of sweat and grind being threatened.

In closing… Jimmy and I are looking forward to the time the pups run back into Dog Days with wagging tails, to the time downtown fills back up with the sounds of the hustle and bustle of people coming back to work– the sounds of people greeting each other on the streets, and the sounds of OUR City doing what it does so well–coming back!

To those of you out there helping others–Jimmy and I send you a virtual hug.

Stay strong and don’t forget to stock up on dog food!!!

Sue Johnson and her husband, Jimmy are co-owners of Dog Days of Birmingham. She serves on the City Action Partnership Board and is CEO Big Brothers Big Sisters. Please check out BBBS’ social media for online mentoring to help children and families stay connected and for vital resources.

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David Sher is Co-Founder of AmSher Compassionate Collections.  He’s past Chairman of the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce (BBA), Operation New Birmingham (REV Birmingham), and the City Action Partnership (CAP).

Invite David to speak for free to your group about how we can have a more prosperous metro Birmingham.

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4 thoughts on “Downtown was bustling–then COVID-19”

  1. Sue, you are a jewel! Thanks for sharing your story. I am looking forward to the day that Dog Days reopens!

  2. How well you have counted the many blessing that have helped downtown come back to life and improve. The inspiration that people like you can give will make it even better. Thanks for this.

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