COVID-19 claims first retailer

Published 9:33 pm Wednesday, June 3, 2020

By Stephen Faleski

Staff Writer


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The first Smithfield business to close as a result of the economic downturn brought on by the COVID-19 virus made the announcement recently.

R.K. Redlin, owner of Laura & Lucy’s, confirmed to The Smithfield Times on Monday that the antiques store — which has been a staple of downtown Smithfield for 23 years — will not be reopening.

Redlin said he decided in April to close the store permanently given that a vaccine for the virus likely won’t be widely available for about a year based on current estimates, by which time, business in downtown Smithfield will likely again suffer when the Virginia Department of Transportation begins work on the Cypress Creek Bridge by Smithfield Station.

“At my age, I can’t wait for the virus to be gone and for that bridge to be rebuilt,” Redlin, 75, said.

According to VDOT spokeswoman Kelly Alvord, the current schedule for the Cypress Creek Bridge project shows construction beginning in early fall 2022, though residents may see construction-related work, such as the relocation of adjacent utilities, as early as 2021. The project, which will include replacing the first three spans of the bridge and various other repairs, is expected to take approximately two years with a long-term, single-lane closure in place during the majority of that time.

“Motorists will still be able to travel in both directions along the bridge via a temporary traffic signal that will alternate one-way traffic in the open lane,” Alvord said. “The goal is to ensure through traffic is maintained during the duration of the project, with potential full closures only if necessary for construction.”

Full closures, which would be needed in instances such as the final placement of a beam, will be scheduled for the periods of lightest impact to the community, she said.

“Selling exquisite junk on Main Street for the past 23 years has been a great ride,” Redlin said in a letter to the editor on Monday. “We would like to thank all of our customers for their loyalty and support over these many years.”

The store first opened in 1997 in the 300 block of Main Street and in 2009 moved to its current location across the street from the Smithfield Times office. It is named for Redlin’s first wife, Laura, and her dog, Lucy. Lucy died in 2009 and Laura, in 2013. Redlin’s current dog, Gracie, whom patrons may recall seeing in the store, is also getting up in age, now 14, he said.

Redlin is currently interviewing professional estate liquidators and anticipates holding an estate sale sometime in September to sell off the remaining merchandise in the store. Once the building is empty, he plans to hold an auction to sell it.

“If I get the number I’m looking for, I will sell it; if I don’t … I will probably rent it,” Redlin said.

Asked what he plans to do after getting out of the antiques business, Redlin, who is a former house flipper, said he may “dabble in real estate,” but for all intents and purposes, will be retired.