After 34 years, Sofy Copy in Magnolia Plaza shut its doors for the last time on Tuesday.
Woini Solomon, the heart and soul behind the operation, leaves feeling loved by Auburn residents.
“This place was more than a store,” Solomon said. “It was a place of fellowship and friendship. I couldn’t have asked for a better place to be.”
In 1987, Solomon was pregnant and looking for work. Her husband, Hossana, was a graduate student at Auburn, and one day, impatient with the lack of copy services, he envisioned a hub for all things paper.
“Being a student, he got so frustrated,” she said. “So he said, ‘Maybe we can do a copy place. There’s only one in town, and it’s not good.’”
Sofy Copy was one of the original tenants of Magnolia Plaza when it opened in 1987. The owner made a room in the nook of the building just for the Solomon family.
“It all started when my first child was born; she was only 4 months,” Solomon said. Her name is Sofy.
Without hesitation, the husband-and-wife duo named the store after her. Their next child, also a girl, is named Helen.
“Our children grew here,” she said. “The community knew my kids after school. They would play right outside my shop in the building.”
From imaginary games to jumping rope, Magnolia Plaza became the daughters’ playroom.
“Even for me, it’s my home,” Solomon said. “This is where I live. People came to me because I’m here from morning until night.”
The relationships Solomon built with her student customers turned into long-lasting bonds. She was their lifeline through the many years of midterms and final projects.
“They used to call me a lifesaver,” she said with a laugh. “There were no computers, so we stayed open until midnight.”
Sofy Copy had a big, wooden table in the middle of the room. Architecture, industrial design and art students would sit there for hours working on projects. After a few years, the table gained countless scars from students’ X-Acto knives and creativity. Solomon still has this piece of furniture today as a keepsake.
Auburn students became her adopted kids, and she invited them to family dinners with her signature Ethiopian-style cuisine.
Solomon also said she printed many manuscripts for authors, one being Lt. Gen. Hal Moore, whose book “We Were Soldiers Once… And Young” chronicled the formation of the Army’s 7th Cavalry Regiment and an early, key battle in the Vietnam War. It was eventually turned into a movie starring Mel Gibson.
“He became our loyal customer,” Solomon said. “We’ve printed his book before it was published so many times.”
Behind the Glass owner Donna Young explained the joy the Solomon family brought to downtown Auburn.
“They’re part of the downtown family, and Woini has always been so sweet and helpful,” Young said. “She loved music and her kids. They always had their children’s drawings up on the wall.”
Solomon said it’s just time for her to begin a new chapter in life.
“I’m going to miss it, but it’s about time,” she said. “The Auburn community has been wonderful to me, to my family and to my children.”
Now, Solomon’s daughters have flown the coop, and she’s ready to see what life has in store for her.
“It’s time to close because of computers, COVID … and a few things that have come with older age. I’m going to miss my student customers, the professors and so many wonderful community people,” she said. “We’ll see what the future brings.”