Open for Business: meet the owners behind some of Birmingham’s newest retailers.

Over the past few months Birmingham has seen several new businesses open their doors all over the downtown area. A handful of those are eateries, but a few of them are one-of-a-kind retailers offering only the finest of goods, services, and clothing. The Local got the chance to sit down with a few of the owners and hear a little about the driving force behind these new ventures.

smallboxco

The first is Small Box Co. started by local entrepreneur and architect, Eric Tasker. Located at Railroad Park, the space is unique in its very nature. Eric created a retail space out of a shipping container in an effort to house local startups. The idea is for Small Box to act as a springboard for retail startups in the Birmingham area, allowing new entrepreneurs to test out markets, locations and products before moving into a brick and mortar location. First to fill the box is Rainy Day Studios, a retail collective of southern artists.

Eric was kind enough to answer a few of our questions over some Red Cat coffee.

Q: Describe your business in a single mantra:

A: Small boxes for big ideas.

Q: Why this current venture?

A:I wanted to create a space to help people achieve their vision. Small Box works as a building block for new retailers to gain customers, build their lines, and work towards acquiring a brick and mortar location in the future. Downtown is growing and as it is growing more retailers need to be brought downtown, Small Box helps these retailers gain the necessary sales and market leads in order to gain enough financing to eventually move into a brick and mortar.

Q: Any more boxes in the future?

A: I have the one for now; I’m hoping to open a few more located all over town, in effort to allow tenants to test their markets in different districts and neighborhoods.

Q: Favorite downtown activity?

A: I have two kids and my wife and I love to take them biking on the Rotary Trail.

Follow Small Box Co. on Instagram: @smallboxco, as well as current tennat: @rainydaybham.

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Mountainside Photo Co.

Opened in September 2016, Winslet and Rhys located in Avondale is a one-of-a-kind mercantile shop that was created out of two women’s dreams to provide Birmingham with a store of high quality, handmade goods. Both women spent much of their lives traveling around the world where they grew to appreciate the beauty in simplicity. That lifestyle resonates throughout Winslet and Rhys. The store has an exquisite line of household goods, women and children’s clothing and an array of locally hand crafted letterpress prints.

Between checking out customers and stamping letters, Brittany Baker the “Winslet” of the duo answered a few questions for us.

Q: What is the story behind the store name?

A: General Stores back in the day were generally names after the owner’s surname, and if it was a woman, her maiden name. We loved the idea of using our maiden names as the store name. ‘Winslet’ is me and ‘Rhys comes from Mallory’s maiden name Rice.

Q: Inspiration for the store?

A: Both Mallory and I moved to Birmingham and saw a need for a store curated for woman, so we designed a store we would want to walk into and shop!

Q: Favorite items in the store right now?

A: Yield Design Co.’s French Press, Hackwith Sweater in Peach and the House Candle.

Q: Most amazing place you have traveled?

A: Fez, Morocco. It’s Morocco’s hidden secret.

Q: Best part about being located in Avondale?

A: The neighbors (MAKEbhms.) It’s like having a little family all for each other!

 Follow Winslet & Rhys on Instagram: @winsletandrhys. Visit their website: http://www.winsletandrhys.com/

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artefactsupply

Artefact Supply was created out of one man’s void to find a local brick and mortar store where he could buy well crafted men’s apparel. Brandon Hays, a lawyer at Second Row Law, has a passion for any and all well crafted products. He made it his “passion project” to create the essential men’s apparel shop in downtown Birmingham. Artefact Supply is committed to supplying men with quality timeless apparel and goods, such as denims, chinos, sweaters and button downs.

While opening the store, Brandon Hays took sometime to answer a few of our questions.

Q: Where are you from?

A: I was born and raised in Birmingham. I graduated from Vestavia High School and attended the University of Alabama for my undergraduate. Later I graduated from  Cumberland School of Law and opened up Second Row Law firm with a few of my colleagues.

Q: Where did you draw inspiration from for your store?

A: On a trip to Austin, TX where I stumbled across a men’s store names STAG. Artefact Supply is really a passion project of mine, I’ve always been passionate about well crafted store’s and there wasn’t one available on this side of the mountain, so I opened one.

Q: How did you choose the brands you would include?

A: I searched for brands who were unique and cultured, but also had a good price point. Just to name a few: Life After Denim, 3Sixteen, Billykirk and Red Wing Heritage.

Q: Why 2nd Avenue?

A: 2nd Avenue is the heartbeat of downtown right now. Dining, bars, and retail are filling the area. A great place to gain foot traffic.

Q: Favorite place to be in Downtown Birmingham?

A: At Urban Standard drinking coffee and eating cupcakes or catching a concert at Iron City or WorkPlay.

Follow Artefact Supply on Instagram: @artefactsupply. Visit their website: http://www.artefactsupply.com/

Birmingham blogger Jessica Stroud on creativity and communication in an online world

As Birmingham continues to be a city of exciting new things popping up everywhere, people are staying engaged through the art of blogging. Here, local writers are able to share ideas, thoughts, and opinions on anything from new restaurants to wardrobes to match the season. Jessica Stroud started her own blog, “Daily Brunch,” and has been featured on The Birmingham Bloggers website multiple times. You can tell right away in her posts her love for the city of Birmingham and how to communicate that through writing.

southerndailybrunch.com//Jessica Stroud
southerndailybrunch.com//Jessica Stroud

Q: What was your reasoning for starting your own blog site, specifically about the Birmingham area:

There are two main reasons I started blogging:

  1. To enhance my creativity. Let’s get things straight, I am by no means creative in an artistic sense. I cannot play an instrument, paint a picture, or do any sort of d.i.y. crafts. What I can do is explain myself through writing. I figured if I started posting I’d have to come up with new ways to explain myself, and also create new material through trial and error. Managing and writing a blog has been a personal challenge that I have thoroughly enjoyed. It has helped me find new ways to think about things and challenge my brain.
  1. Express myself better. At first I felt funny asking my husband to take pictures of my outfits (see Instagram husband on YouTube for accurate review of our relationship) or write like I was talking to a friend on the blog, but now I feel more inspired and I’m just like “WHO CARES?! Come take this picture of me while I pose looking off into the distance.” This has been an extremely inspiring year for me. I have felt more like a woman in charge than I ever have! I feel my insecurities melting away. Thank you older age and wise mind! I feel like Birmingham has grown so much since I’ve been out of college, I love that there are always new places to see and new restaurants to try, it is the perfect city to expand your mind and get creative.

Q: What has the reaction to your blog been like?

When starting anything there will always be trial and error. Depending on the post and content it holds there will always be fluctuation in how many people click on the post and how many views it gets. I find that my outfit posts and recipes get more attention than any other post. People like to see pictures and something they can scroll through fast while waiting in line somewhere or browsing before they go to bed.

Q: Are there certain areas of interest that you feel most passionate about focusing your blog on?  

ARE THERE?! I want my blog to be about supporting women and encouraging them to follow their dreams. I want my blog to empower women and have those women empower women. I love it when girls are nice to each other for no reason, putting aside all the insecurities and jealousy, and just be raw with one another. That is what I am most passionate about and hope my blog displays that with every post.

Q: Why do you think blogging has become so popular for cities like Birmingham?

I have been blogging for almost three years and I am still a baby at it. I think the way readers and followers like to get their information is by seeing others display it or try it out and blogging does that. I also think people like to follow bloggers who are interesting and give them entertainment.

Q: How do you think the skill of blogging can help young college journalists?

It is a great way to explore yourself and writing styles that you may want to adopt or try on. It also challenges you and keeps you accountable, especially if you have followers who expect you to post!

Q: How have you seen the blogging community grow in Birmingham?

The Birmingham blogging scene is still growing and it’s fantastic. Ther

e are communities such as Birmingham Bloggers and Home Grown Bloggers that have gatherings and conferences that allow bloggers from all over the south come and learn techniques and ways to grow your blog. It is a great way to learn and meet people that can support you!  

Link to Jessica’s blog: http://www.southerndailybrunch.com

 

Bright Idea: The Story of O’Henry’s Coffee

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“I couldn’t find a truly great cup of coffee in Birmingham.” These words, spoken by Dr. Henry Bright of Birmingham, launched him into a coffee obsession that resulted in the birth of O’Henry’s Coffee in 1993.

At the start of his coffee craze, Bright was working as a successful orthodontist in the Birmingham area. Bright became interested in coffee after recognizing a need for a place where people could meet and enjoy one another’s company.

Bright’s passion carried him across the country, as he studied different techniques and roasting processes in order to be successful in the industry. Bright was fascinated with the chemistry of coffee, beyond the taste, and wanted to control all steps of the process, starting with the coffee bean.

He bought an espresso machine for his home and after learning how to roast, source, and blend coffee, Bright opened the original O’Henry’s in Homewood with a “little red roaster” in the front window.

Today, out of Bright’s vision, O’Henry’s has expanded to four different locations around Birmingham, Brookwood, Highland Park, Region Tower, and the original Homewood location. Business Insider named O’Henry’s Alabama’s Best Coffeehouse in 2014, proving it is a growing success story.

The story began when Bright saw a need for a gathering place and wanted to do something about it. He envisioned a coffeehouse as a place where cross sections of society could meet and feel comfortable.

Bright understood the dynamics necessary to produce a sense of hospitality, comfort, and home in a coffeehouse. O’Henry’s conveys this mood through warm colors and a welcoming environment.  “We love to hear people say meet me at O’Henry’s,” said current owner, Randy Adamy. O’Henry’s strives to make people feel comfortable in coming and staying.

O’Henry’s was a hit from day one. This business venture involved a great deal of risk, as Bright sold his coffee for $1.50 in 1993, when you could get coffee elsewhere for a quarter. Yet, people saw a difference and appreciated Bright’s innovative idea. Bright was revolutionary in bringing specialized coffee to the people of Birmingham.

“Dr. Bright was the type of guy that would make sure he succeeded, he would do whatever it took,” said Adamy. O’Henry’s introduced the trend of artisan roast, setting the standard for what is expected out of a quality cup of coffee.

Jenn Russ, employee of five years, described Bright as humble, soft-spoken, friendly, and a man who loves coffee and getting to know people. In the coffeehouse industry, “It is all about the relationships and Dr. Bright knew that,” said Adamy.

O’Henry’s employees make an effort to learn people’s needs, beyond a cup of coffee, whether it is the need to be heard or to slow down. “That is the most important thing we do, we just happen to be selling coffee,” said Adamy.

When Bright was looking to sell the company in 1999, he met Adamy through a mutual friend. Adamy said Bright wanted someone to keep the standards high, committed to producing something that would enhance the community. For Bright, it was never about money, and to Adamy, “profitability is something that happens when you do something right.”

Under Adamy’s ownership, O’Henry’s has just expanded on the precedent set by Bright. With four O’Henry’s across Birmingham and the roasting business booming, the franchise has managed to remain true to its “mom and pop” origin.

Russ appreciates the small-business aspects of the company and the traditional roots, which have sustained O’Henry’s and allowed it to flourish. “I like what it was founded on,” shared Russ. She described the reward of watching the coffee culture evolve and morph, while O’Henry’s hasn’t changed.

Bright, who will turn 81 this year, is still a vigorous and sharp businessman and consultant of O’Henry’s. There are regulars today who still come in and talk about him. One example is a group of men that have been coming every week since the opening in 1993. They call themselves the “has beens” and have a reserved table where they meet each Thursday morning at 9 a.m. “They are like antiques, we have to dust them off, they are part of the atmosphere,” said Adamy.

Regular costumer, Zach Eaves keeps coming back for “the atmosphere, seating options, and Southern Pecan Crème Coffee.” Everyone has their reason for coming back, and for many it is more than just coffee. The “notebox” on the mantle of every O’Henry’s serves as a testament to the memories made there, filled with notes on scrap paper and tokens of gratitude from loyal guests. Adamy believes regulars come back for “the same reason we all look forward to Christmas- tradition, comfort, family, friends.”

There is humility about Bright and the O’Henry’s story. “If you were to say to Dr. Bright, ‘You are too humble,’ he probably wouldn’t say anything,” shared Adamy. Bright started something unique and so it remains, coffee and community since 1993.

Faces of Birmingham

Birmingham lays claim to some trendy coffee shops, and Octane Coffee is no exception. Have you ever wondered exactly who the people are behind the counter serving this delightful coffee? They have intriguing stories to tell, and barista/mixologist Trenton Bell, has one of the finest.

Bell graduated from Samford’s Beeson Divinity School back in May of this year. “I felt a sense of calling to go [to seminary]; I felt internally that it was the right next step for me after college,” said Bell. He received his Master’s in Divinity and now awaits the Lord’s next step for his life.

Throughout his life, Bell has always had two main loves: Jesus and music. He felt the Lord calling him to combine those passions for the Kingdom of God and thus, the band Multis Project was born. Multis is Latin for many, and Bell chose this name because the purpose of Multis Project is to promote diversity within music.

Multis Project was somewhat born out of necessity. Bell and his friend, Louie Free, were driving back from a conference they had been leading worship at and were in line for another gig, but there was one problem, the next conference wanted the two guys to bring a band with them. “We put together a group of folks, and tried to put together as much of a diverse team as possible,” Bell said. “We have some hip-hop, gospel, folk and pop all mixed in together. We want to push the envelope and reach out to and unify diverse groups of people.” The band has been doing just that ever since their first performance back in January.

Bell constantly faces the battle of balancing being a full time barista and trying to continue to pursue his passion for making music. However, he does not really worry about it too much. “I trust that we [Multis Project] will go where we need to be at the proper time. We have patience in trusting the Lord, but we are persistently pursuing opportunities,” he said.

So if you need a delicious Carmelatto, or want to book a cutting edge band, look no farther than Octane’s very own, Trenton Bell.

The Local’s Fall Jams

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The degrees are dropping and pumpkin spice everything fills the air. It’s time for a new playlist to accompany all your fall favorites and The Local has the perfect one for you! Enjoy the classics as well as a mix of new soothing tunes. It will be sure to keep your feet tapping.

 

 

Green Eggs in the ‘Ham: Gyro Edition

Birmingham is a city filled with history, culture, and food. While we’re not complaining that new restaurants open around town all the time, it’s hard to choose where to eat when there are countless options right in front of you. But don’t worry! The Local is here to help you find the most authentic and trendiest spots to grab a bite the next time you’re looking to eat out.

gyro
Original Gyro, Glory Bound Gyro Co.

Greek food in the South can be hard to come by, but Glory Bound Gyro Co. brings its Mediterranean twist right to Birmingham. Owners, Will Taylor and Chris McDonald, found inspiration for this Mediterranean-style restaurant while traveling in Greece. It’s been a hit since they opened the first Glory Bound in Hattiesburg, Mississippi in 2009.  

Glory Bound opened in downtown Birmingham during the summer of 2015 right along the new Rotary Trail corridor. The blend between Mediterranean dishes and American concepts create familiar recipes, and the open, light atmosphere draws customers in.

“Our uniqueness in this kind of business really sets us apart,” said manager Parker Smith.

So what should you get? If you are new to the gyro game, then the Original Gyro is for you. The lamb and beef filled tortilla is topped with lettuce, onions, and tzatziki sauce.  The meat and sauce pair well together as you get a blend of both sweet and savory flavors, creating a simplistic taste that will leave you wanting more.

If you’re adventurous with your food, the award-winning Pepperjack Gyro is sure to call your name. Topped with bacon, pepper jack cheese, and comeback sauce, this gyro will surely never disappoint.

Have you found a restaurant that you think we should try? Email us at hdiamond@samford.edu.

Local Coffee Shops Transformed into Popular Fictional Diner

To celebrate the 16th anniversary of the first episode of Gilmore Girls, Birmingham coffee shops partnered with Netflix on October 6 and converted into the hit show’s own coffee shop, Luke’s Diner.  Lucy’s Coffee and Tea, Crestwood Coffee Co. and The Abbey were three of the 200 cafes around the country that participated in the pop up.

The pop-ups were open from 7 a.m. to noon, and the first 200 guest received free coffee. The shops included décor from the show, such as Luke’s signs, aprons, backward caps, and coffee cups covered in Gilmore Girls quotes. Even the staff at the shops wore Luke’s Diner branded aprons and T-shirts. Netflix also announced a new season which is to premiere around Thanksgiving time.  

Lucy’s, a coffee shop located on University Blvd, was thrilled to be one of the Netflix-sponsored coffee shops. Early on, the line wrapped around the block as Gilmore Girls fans excitingly waited for their free cup of coffee. The coffee shops said that social media was a big factor in whether or not a café was chosen to host a Luke’s diner pop-up.

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Coffee sleeves were adorned with Luke’s logo
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A line of fans awaiting their coffee
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Employees dressed up as characters for the occasion

  

Binge-Worthy Halloween Movies

Fall is here and along with it comes the Halloween season. In addition to leaves on the ground and the return of oversized sweaters, the change in season also means the updating of Netflix’s library, everything from horror to old childhood favorites. So no matter where you stand on the pumpkin spice flavor debate, here is a list of movies and tv shows on Netflix to watch this season to get you in the spirit.

Practical Magic:
This rom-com stars Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman and follows two witches/sisters who are stuck with a curse against all the men in their lives. Not quite heart-racing, give-you-nightmares material, but a fun movie with a great soundtrack nonetheless.

Scream 2:
The 1997 sequel to the classic slasher film follows the infamous “Ghostface” as he ravages a small town. While not as classic as the first, if you want a film that will keep you on your toes, this is it.

Scary Movie 2 & 3:
The Scary Movie franchise is not what you would expect. These movies take popular horror films and parody them by mashing up the plot lines and making them ridiculous. Some jokes may fall flat, but if you are looking for something more lighthearted, look no further.

Corpse Bride:
Tim Burton’s creation follows a groom who must search for a way back to his fiancée after he accidentally becomes the husband of a corpse bride in the underworld. This movies is exactly what you would expect from a Tim Burton film and follows in the footsteps of his wildly popular Nightmare Before Christmas.

American Horror Story:
This tv show is unique because it presents a new storyline every season. From a haunted house to a witch coven to an insane asylum, each season presents new twists and turns. If you don’t have time for the whole show, most agree that the 2nd season, titled Asylum, is a can’t miss.

Welcome to The Local

Mission Statement:  The Local provides contemporary coverage and insight on a historical city from a youthful perspective. We foster a culture that challenges young people to engage in the growth around them. The Local captures powerful moments that reflect the vibrant character of the Magic City.

This mission statement provides focus that aligns our team as we work to create The Local. It embodies our desire collectively, and as individual journalists. Each member of our team offers unique talents and perspectives that enable us to see deeper and discover untapped writing potential.

Birmingham is beaming with vibrant character that has found its place in history. The Local is inspired by the city of Birmingham and the way it is constantly reinventing itself. Birmingham is ever evolving alongside the inhabitants of this city. The Local is inspired by these people’s stories, their goals and defeats, and how they converge to shape this diverse culture.

We believe that stories matter because people matter.  These stories are just glimpses we have captured and now want to share with you, the reader.  Our goal is to capture the human experience in a way that the reader can connect with deeply as we aim to bring moments to life through vivid colors, details and striking stories.

The re-launch of our website thelocalbham.com is an overflow of our growing vision for the magazine.  In this continuing narrative, we hope to paint a picture on this online canvas.  Continue to follow our progress and growth here.  All that we ask of you, the reader, is that you experiment, engage and allow yourself to be enchanted by the “Magic City.”