Reed Books

Almost everyone has that one person who is most difficult to cross off his or her Christmas shopping list. However Jim Reed, owner of Reed Books, has a pretty simple Christmas wish.

“Find something that makes you smile and bring me that thing and your smile and that’s my present,” Reed said about receiving presents from his children.

Reed opened his shop, Reed Books: The Museum of Fond Memories, in order to get “away from the corporate world and the things that people do to each other in the corporate world.”

His shop is full of thousands of items he finds in a variety of places, each with a different story. He has purchased items at yard sales and customers have brought in stuff to sell.

“My favorite part is what people bring in here — not the things they bring but the stories they bring,” Reed said.
Reed’s items appeal to a large variety of hobbies and interests. He has brand new books and novels that are more than 500 years old for purchase. Reed has books on every topic you can imagine, perfect for the bookworm on your Christmas shopping list.

If you have a movie enthusiast on your shopping list, Reed has hundreds of theatre posters and publicity photos from films, comic books for the super hero fan and records for the music lover.

Reed Books has it all. The price range of items is anywhere from 50 cents to $9,000.

“There is no way to tell what something is actually worth because everything has an intrinsic value, and everything is worth a million dollars to me,” Reed said.

When you look around though, you cannot help but notice each of the many Santa’s adorned in various spots around the shop.

“Every day is Christmas here,” Reed said. “It is a secular thing with me. It has nothing to do with religion. It can depend on what society you’re in, but it’s a time when people are nice to each other. That’s what I like about Christmas; it’s that feeling that I had when I was a kid.”

You will surely find the most unique gifts this holiday season at Jim Reed’s Books. You will come away with a few items crossed off your list and an amazing experience in his shop as well.

“This is a place where I want you to feel like you have sanctuary from the world, even if for a couple of minutes. Come in here, you’re safe. That’s what I’d like it to be. That’s an ideal shop to me,” Reed said.

Check out Reed Books: The Museum of Fond Memories on 2021 3rd Ave N Birmingham, Alabama 35203.

by Madison Miles

Old and magnificent: The Alabama Theatre

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The Alabama Theatre may be old, but it is not forgotten.

Concerts, movies, dance competitions, weddings and film festivals take over the theatre from January to December, bringing people – young and old – together under the ornate domed ceiling in downtown Birmingham.

Built in 1927 by Paramount Studios, the same year that “talking pictures” debuted, the historic and beloved landmark became a public place where locals enjoyed nights of vaudeville and movies. In the 1930s, children took over the theatre on Saturdays for The Mickey Mouse Club meetings, which soon evolved into the largest club in the world.

When downtown Birmingham struggled to stay afloat during the economic recession of the 1980s, the once-booming theatre also suffered.

“When downtown was experiencing quite a bit of vacancy, the property owners just really thought that the theatre wasn’t going to produce any profit. They were going to make it a parking lot,” said Brant Beene, executive director of the Alabama Theatre and director of Birmingham Landmarks, Inc.

Thankfully one of the oldest and most unique instruments, the “Mighty Wurlitzer” pipe organ, had enough loyal advocates who simply refused to witness the destruction of “Big Bertha.”

“This group of people realized that in order to save the organ, they would have to save the whole theatre,” Beene said. “They put together a campaign and got the newspaper involved and all kinds of people.”

The nonprofit organization, Birmingham Landmarks, was formed in 1987 to purchase the building and save the “Mighty Wurlitzer” and the Alabama. Cecil Whitmire, who passed away in 2010, founded Birmingham Landmarks. Whitmire, his wife Linda and Birmingham attorney Danny Evans lead the nonprofit over the next ten years to restore the theatre. “They spent a lot of money and time bringing the Alabama back to life,” Beene said.

By 1998, the Alabama, cleaned and refinished under the supervision of Whitmire and dedicated volunteers, was more than back in business.

Currently the month of December is one of the busiest for the Alabama. The Holiday Film Series draws crowds to the 2,200 seats. “White Christmas,” “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “A Christmas Story” are just a few of the classics to grace the theatre year after year.

“For the last four or five years we’ve had quite a bit of sold-out houses. Every now and then we get a few angry calls when we don’t show a favorite classic Christmas movie,” Beene said with a smile, “But we do our best and try to add shows so everyone can experience their favorite at the Alabama.”

Oil paintings and gilded furnishings, granite, marble, mirrors and hundreds of elaborate light fixtures adorn the unforgettable interior of the theatre.

“I’ve been working at the Alabama for about six years now, but I find something new on the walls, in the details, just everywhere, all of the time,” said theatre employee Tommie Folker, who makes sure the lighting throughout the theatre is in perfect condition.

Beene said one of his favorite parts about his job is witnessing younger generations come to the theatre for the first time, either as a visitor or a performer, and then come back years later for concerts, movies and weddings.

“It’s really neat to see people come back from 50 or 60 years ago, because things haven’t really changed inside that much,” Beene said. “People really get to step back in time and remember their first visit at the magnificent Alabama.”

 

By Rebekah Robinson