After a little boy walked out with a single macaron, he dashed back for more before making it to the car. Moments like that have solidified that Crystal Lovelady had made the correct choice in bringing her favorite California macaron shop back home to Birmingham.
“Vestavia Hills is a great community that supports both its small and large businesses,” said Crystal Lovelady, owner of ‘Lette Macarons in Vestavia Hills. “It is a great place to own a business. People travel from all over the Birmingham area to try the product, and that is really exciting.”
Communities like Vestavia Hills rally around their small businesses like ‘Lette Macarons. This allows those businesses to flourish, and in turn, the businesses often pour back into their communities as a way of thanking them for the support.
Paulette Koumetz founded the original ‘Lette Macarons in Beverly Hills, California just over 12 years ago. A Paris native, Koumetz was drawn to open her own macaron shop when she could not find any macarons with that authentic French taste like those made by her grandmother in France.
Crystal Lovelady and her husband, Alabama natives, could not get enough ‘Lette macarons while living in California. It was their quality that drew them in.
“If you love a certain flavor there, you will go back and get it again and it will taste just like the one you fell in love with,” Lovelady said.
When the couple moved from Beverly Hills to Vestavia Hills, they found themselves in a similar situation to the one that brought Koumetz to open her first bakery.
“There isn’t anything like it in the Birmingham area or Alabama even. We tried macarons from different bakeries here and even in Georgia and nothing quite tasted like the true authentic macaron like ‘Lette does,” Lovelady said.
‘Lette Macarons opened its Vestavia Hills location on July 24, 2018, and the small business has felt supported by the community since its opening.
What is it about Vestavia Hills that makes it the perfect home for these small businesses?
“For us, I have to say it is that lot of people in the area are well versed in travel. We have customers who have been to Paris before, or even every year, who come in and say that our coffee macarons are the best they have ever had,” said Lovelady.
“Vestavia Hills is not the kind of community that will have lots of the big box stores like Lowes and Home Depot, and I don’t know that we want to be,” said Karen Odle, president of the Vestavia Hills Chamber of Commerce. “You are able to have such specialty varied product when you have boutique retailers like ‘Lette and the many others in our community.”
As school has started, the after-school hours bring parents with their children to get those tasty after-school treats. This is just one of the ways you see small Vestavia businesses receiving support from the community.
“Kids love them; They are something different and fun,” said Mary Virginia, a ‘Lette employee. “They love the colors, especially since we arrange them in a rainbow. Macarons are a perfect treat on your way home after school.”
With an elementary school just up the street, parents will often drive by on their way home from school, and some children will walk to ‘Lette when school lets out.
It’s fitting that the after-school crowd is so supportive of ‘Lette. Odle explained what draws in businesses to the area, saying “Our demographic is very supportive of local businesses because they are so tied in with supporting our education system.”
For Vestavia Hills residents, it is rewarding to invest in small businesses and observe them returning the favor of investing in the community.
“I would prefer to shop local and support small businesses,” said Meredith Telfair, a Vestavia Hills resident. “I feel like the quality is better, and I am not just supporting some big corporation.”