By Anna Grace Moore
Photos by Kelsea Schafer
Perusing through Alabama Goods, a connoisseur of collectibles will find herself circling tables more than once, looking up, down and from side-to-side as there are more goods than first appear when met with the naked eye.
Alabama Goods is home to up to 300 Alabama vendors, with all of the goods made right here in the Yellowhammer state. Founders and owners Sherry Hartley and Beth Staula are proud to not only bridge the gap between craft makers and collectors, but they are also proud that their store boosts Alabama’s economy, puts food on Alabama artists’ tables and is a signature spot for tourists, looking for a signature token of Alabama culture.
Sherry and Beth, the dynamic duo, first met in a chamber of commerce meeting when Sherry had just sold her business and Beth was looking to sell hers. After forming a friendship, they realized there was a void for places to buy unique gifts, especially those made locally.
“We both love the state of Alabama,” Sherry says. “We recognized a void we felt like we could fill. Since then, what we have come to love about this company is we get to know our vendors as opposed to going to market.”
The pair focused their efforts on corporate gifting and launched Alabama Goods’ website in 2007. Having weathered the 2008 recession and coming out strong, Sherry and Beth erected their first brick and mortar store in Homewood in 2010 and have since doubled their space in 2013.
Alabama Goods expanded to Huntsville in 2020 and plans to open their third location in the Stadium Trace Village shopping center of Hoover in late 2023. The Inc. 5,000 list of fastest growing businesses named Alabama Goods as a top contender for businesses in the Southeast, too.
One unique aspect about the vendors both online and instore is that no matter how many, Sherry and Beth have a personal relationship with each of them.
“We know our vendors personally,” Beth says. “We know their stories, their products, their families. That personal relationship is everything. We know that we’re important to them.”
It is hard to imagine that Sherry and Beth built their inventory and did not start out with hundreds of options. Beth says she and Sherry hustled, attending every art show, craft fair and artist market they could every single weekend for the first few years to garner a wide variety.
Walking through the store, customers will find paintings, candles, pottery, jewelry, leatherwork, T-shirts, food items, gift baskets, drinkware and more. There is always something for everyone.
“We feel like we’re ambassadors of the state because the things you find here really represent the charm and the essence of the state,” Sherry says.
If one points to any item in store, Sherry, who oversees the day-to-day in-house operations, can tell you who the item is made by and why it would make a great gift. One of her favorite items, she says, is Earthborn Pottery by Tena Payne.
“[Earthborn] supplies the bowls and plates and dinnerware to high-end resorts and restaurants throughout the United States,” Sherry says. “We feel blessed to have them in store.
However, pottery is not the only item customers can look forward to. Alabama Goods is home to a variety of jewelry makers’ work including Sarah Cavender Jewelry.
“Another vendor we really love is Sarah Cavender of Oxford, Alabama,” Sherry says. “She makes incredible jewelry. Very artistic, hands-on, high end. Her jewelry is found in places like Paris, New York and San Francisco.”
Artists such as Thomas Andrew, Pam Truitt, Lauren Foshee, Jane Lazenly, Wendy Allison, Amanda Klein, Rickie Higgins and more have beautiful masterpieces adorning the walls of the Homewood location.
Everywhere one looks, she will find precious rarities, perfect as gifts for even the most selective customers.
What one will also enjoy is the plethora of gift baskets, filled with locally-made popcorn, jams, chocolates and more. These baskets are by far the most popular corporate gift the duo sells online and instore, too.
“Every year in the summer, we redesign the gift baskets,” Beth says. “The newest yummy things are my favorite items.”
During the pandemic, Sherry says Alabama Goods’ corporate gift basket sales skyrocketed, and while the stores were closed for some time, customers shopped more online than ever before. Even vendors adapted to life during the pandemic.
One artist began sewing masks for customers before masks were readily available. Another switched from soap making to making hand sanitizer for those in need.
Although 2020 was a difficult year, the stores saw record-high profits and recently celebrated their best sales year ever in 2022.
“This area in particular is such a nice community,” Beth says. “People support the downtown area. Most of the businesses here are unique, locally-owned places, so it really fits the nature of what we do. It’s a walkable, family-oriented community. It’s a great place to have a business.”
Sherry shares the same sentiment, talking about the community’s support.
In 2021, the Homewood Chamber of Commerce nominated Alabama Goods for the Alabama Retail Association’s Retailer of the Year award, and Alabama Goods won first place in its category.
“Homewood Life” also awarded Alabama Goods as Homewood’s best gift shop, best specialty store and best customer service in the magazine’s annual Homewood’s Best contest earlier this year.
“It made us feel so good that our customers see that in us,” Sherry says of Alabama Goods’ recent wins. “Thank you for taking the time and effort to [vote].”
Beth says not only do these recent wins mean so much to them, but they also mean a lot to the vendors, too.
“We appreciate [customers] coming into the store because where they spend their money matters,” Beth says. “Sending locally matters. They matter. By coming into the store, they matter to hundreds of Alabama families.”
Beth says about 90 percent of the money the business spends stays in Alabama. Truly, every purchase packs the power to provide for local craft makers.
As vendors may come and go, Sherry says Alabama Goods will always serve to bridge the gap between local artisans and those looking for the perfect gift. For a taste of Alabama, one need only to shop at Alabama Goods.
Visit Alabama Goods’ Homewood location at 2933 18th Street South. The store is open Monday-Saturday from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Customers can also shop online at alabamagoods.com.
“Wow, all things Alabama! What’s more to say. All sorts of items featuring local artists, artisans and authors.”
“I was in town for a business trip and needed to get some souvenirs to bring back home. This place has it all! Locally-made goods, as well as handcrafted goods and art! It’s in a great location surrounded by other small businesses and cafes. The people who work here are amazing and ready to answer all your questions and give you recommendations.”
“Everyone at the Homewood store was extremely friendly and helpful. We were searching for the perfect gift to ship, and they directed us to the website. We were able to get some great gifts, write a gift note and free shipping! Love the selection and service!”
Several Alabama Vendors
|Anne Moore Jewelry|
|Coast and Cotton|
|McEwen and Sons|
|Piper and Leaf Tea|
|Simply Lit Firepots|
|Tucker Pecan Company|
|Wheel Turned Pottery|