Caroline Bradford began her love affair with antiques sometime during a childhood spent looking through her grandmother’s attic. “I’ve always loved old things,” the Birmingham native and mother of three said.
It was that pleasure for the old-fashion that lead her to start Mulberry Heights Antiques. The small business sits along Canterbury Road in Mountain Brook Village. Cars and foot traffic are frequent as they pass by. The elegant store is one of many in the area and attracts visitors from all over the region.
Nearly eleven years has passed since Bradford first started her antiques store. What began as a childhood fascination with decorating lead her 18 years ago to start an interior design business with a friend. From there eventually became what is now Mulberry Heights. Bradford found having her own business outside of her home much easier and enjoyable.
“The fact that when you’re helping personal clients it’s so time consuming and you can’t leave it it’s always something you’re thinking about I just know that I’d rather have a retail shop and still sell and work with beautiful things.” The store first opened in a small house in Cahaba Heights, not originally in Mountain Brook. Bradford says that after a while they discovered that Cahaba was at the time, “Off the beaten path.” Only then when the store was moved to Mountain Brook did her business begin to pick up and sell more.
And its that same environment that she sees as so important to the benefit of Mulberry Heights. “Mountain Brook is just a true destination place,” she says. Her business holds many of the things one would always find in an elegant antique shop but is known famously for its hand-painted Mulberry China found all throughout the store.
While having the store in Mountain Brook has been wonderful for business there was in Mulberry Heights a concern that being in an area such as Mountain Brook might be as Bradford puts it “intimidating.” “It’s getting better. Definitely several years ago that was a real thing we had to try to get over.” The concern of a fancy antiques store intimidating potential customers has not been a problem for Bradford’s business.
She believes very strongly that Mountain Brook has worked hard to be more inviting and overcome an old money stigma. “When you get personal with the businesses I think that really helps and makes other people see that this is just like anywhere else.”
And that personal touch has translated into a successful operation that appeals to all kinds of customers, especially through advertising. Bradford credits the company’s website along with their Facebook page as helping to branch out and reach more people.
Walking through the store one can find a rich variety of items all shipped from overseas. Many come from France where Bradford and her husband have visited often.
Customers who visit the store find it to be quiet and inviting. And while most are normally from the Mountain Brook area, some occasionally defy such a mold. One recent buyer included a former producer for the program “7th Heaven.” A sign that Mulberry Heights, like its antiques, can stay a part of Mountain Brook, while reaching beyond it.