- Cullman, Alabama

April 27, 2013

Cullman downtown businesses staying for the long haul

By Lauren Estes
The Cullman Times

— Like many others, David Briscoe, owner of Briscoe Shoe Repair, lost his business when tornados ripped across the south two years ago taking lives, stealing memories, and forcing many to make the decision to walk away, or rebuild from the ground up.

“The bottom line is, when it gets tough in Cullman, everyone in Cullman gets tougher,” Briscoe said, referring to the repercussions of April 27, 2011. “Cullman is different from any other place in the world. You hear about all the bad stuff that goes on, but you don’t realize when tough times come, people that you don’t even know will be there to lend a hand. In Cullman, it’s like everyone is kin, a big family working together, that’s what I love about Cullman, we’re tough in the tough times.”

Briscoe lost his seven-year business to the tornado disaster and fought to rebuild it. He said faith brought him through the tragedy.

“After the initial shock, we were able to find the positive, we knew it all happened for a reason,” Briscoe said. “We’re not to question why, but have faith in the Lord and grow from what happened. You just have to take it one day at a time; you can’t get depressed and give up, quitting is not my vocabulary, learn from the bad times, grow from them.”

Bill St. John, owner of St. John and Associates, also lost his business of 22-years, but said he believes in Cullman and is in it for the long haul. He decided to make the financial investment and rebuild in the same location, which re-opened in November of 2012.

“We definitely think Cullman has come back better than it was before,” St. John said. “We are proud to be a part of it. We think what the city did in enacting the design guidelines had a huge impact on the city in general.”

Briscoe and St. John both commented that their faith in this city had a lot to do with their decisions to rebuild.

“A lot of people were probably faced with the decision to either make a bigger investment or maybe walk away,” St. John said. “I think the majority of the downtown area has rebuilt and made their businesses better than they were because people decided they believed in what they were doing and believed in the City of Cullman.”

“Life is short, we’re never promised tomorrow,” Briscoe said. “ When you take a leap and drop a lot of money into something, that falls on your faith. You wonder whether the customers are going to be there, and you have to have your family’s support when you do something like this. All branches of the city worked well with us. This is where my business and my home is also, we wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. I’m in it for the long haul.”

Lauren Estes can be reached at or 256-734-2131, ext 270.