In a culture filled with Wal-Marts and free shipping, people who enjoy supporting small businesses may have a hard time spotting them among all the familiar logos and super sales. However, 18th Street in Homewood is far from the usual.
18th Street has been around for more than 100 years. It’s a street known for its small businesses and out-of-the-ordinary merchandise.
But what really makes 18th Street so special is its ability to thrive in this age of consumerism that emphasizes quantity over quality.
Business owners on 18th Street give a lot of credit to the community. Linda Strickland, the owner of Ambiance, a store that displays a wide variety of unique home décor and fashion, says that Homewood customers and their concern for the city’s economy make the difference.
“We’re fortunate to be in Homewood because Homewood is an area that has a very dedicated shopping base,” Strickland says. “They prefer to shop in a local store. They’re not looking to save a dollar by buying the products online.”
That sense of community unites not only shoppers, but also store owners.
“Every business strives for their own unique footprint,” says Allen Bailey, manager of Seasons to Celebrate. “Nobody tries to copy what anybody else is doing. And everyone tries to offer their customer value for what they’re purchasing.”
Although offering that value while still turning a profit can be a challenge for small business owners, the shop owners of 18th Street feel that because of the Homewood community, they are up to the challenge.
“We can’t compete with the big retailers because we can’t offer the deep discounts that they can,” Bailey says. “However, people in Homewood want to support the community and they will come to 18th Street to do that.”
Photos by Kaitlin Bitz