Located in quaint Crestline Village, Piggly Wiggly is part of a famous Southern restaurant chain. Serving the local community of Mountain Brook, this small store doesn't have the magnitude and selection of larger stores, but instead offers astounding customer service. You are constantly (but subtly) asked if you need assistance, and always offered help out to your car (even if you just have one bag!). I like to support PIggly Wiggly because you get the kind of smile and service that just isn't available at the larger chains. As they say, "Y'all come back to the Pig!"
For a real throwback to the days of Mayberry, try this barber shop located in Mt. Brook Village in a free-standing building in the parking lot of a strip center. Mr. Treadwell has been cutting hair long enough to currently be servicing the grandchildren of his former customers! It is truly a sensory experience as well, as the smells of all the lotions and tonics used wafts throughout the store. It is also one of the few stores of its type to still give razor cuts. If you've never experenced the production (i.e. hot towels, lotions, etc.) of having your stubble cut for you, it is well worth the minimal cost.
I love this hardware store in Mt. Brook Village which is one of the better browsing spots in the area. Unlike the larger chains, this store is small and crammed-packed with every possible item you could think of for your hardware needs (and many more for those you'll suddenly think of). The staff is helpful and friendly and can make suggestions for all sorts of problems. This hardware store has been in business for years and their devotion to customers and their needs shows. There is a large, ample parking lot.
Ted's Garage is a find in Downtown Birmingham. Owners Ted and Debby Thomas have converted an old warehouse into a large space where car specialist Ted houses and maintains antique cars, while Debby helps you throw the party, wedding, reunion or any other type of gathering you may be planning. I have been to several parties here, from large gatherings to smaller, more intimate ones, and all are made more delightful in this fun space. Car enthusiasts and non-car lovers alike will enjoy milling about and looking at all the car paraphernalia. For storing your beloved car, or having your beloved friends for cocktails, Ted's Garage is the place.
In the charming Crestline Village area of Birmingham lies this terrific pharmacy. Although there are several other drug stores nearby, I prefer this "neighborly" small store where customer service shines. All your basic drug store needs are here, but the specialty of the store is the friendly workers who fill your prescriptions while you wait (or send them directly to your home soonafter) and warmly chitchat with you in a way the automatons as Walgreen never can. The prices aren't necessarily as cheap as in a larger chain, but I prefer being treated like a human being rather than customer number 12,234. Harbin's is a throwback to the family-owned stores of the past.
The Summit is a fantastic outdoor shopping area located conveniently to Highways 280 and 459 in Birmingham, AL. Every trendy mall store one thinks of in a suburban mall is here, from The Gap to Banana Republic, from Abercrombie & Fitch to Barnes & Noble, from Bed, Bath & Beyond to to Pottery Barn, and on and on. There are lots of restaurants, including Cheesecake Factory, California Pizza Kitchen, Fleming's Steak House and PF Changs. There is a 16-plex movie theater featuring state of the art seating and movies. There are banks, a grocery store, even a nearby apartment complex. The Summit is located on two levels, and on both sides of the street. Although one could, with good tennis shoes, stroll the length of the complex, there is extremely ample parking everywhere. I much prefer this to the nearby larger, but not necessarily easier to navigate, indoor Riverchase Galleria.
I have been going to Forbes since I was a child (to their original downtown location) and still love to browse through this wonderful music store in Homewood, Alabama. Forbes showroom features pianos of all types, and you are welcome to sit down and try out a tune on any of them. Their sheet music selection is vast, and covers music of all types. From classical to rock and roll, from Broadway to Hollywood, the knowledgeable and friendly sales staff will help you find just the right piece for you and your students. There is easy parking on the side.
This charming bookstore in the heart of the lovely shopping village of Mt. Brook is the antithesis of the large Barnes & Noble type chain stores. This little store is a browsers delight, with lots of local authors represented as well. The staff is very knowledgable and there is a coffee shop on premises. The prices obviously aren't discounted as in the larger stores, but I love to support this type of store which sadly seems to be a thing of the past. There is ample parking in the adjacent lot.
I don't even drink but Le Chateau Wine & Spirits is still one of my favorite spots to drop in. According to others that have accompanied me, they have quite the selection of imported wines and other spirits. The prices are comparable to other liquor emporia. What I like about the store is the extremely friendly help. Whenever they check my lottery tickets to see if I'm the latest millionaire, they always have a cheery thing to say (and are ready to sell me another!). They offer a nice line of candies, chips and other munchies. There are cold sodas and other beverages, too. Newspapers, free weeklies and other reading material is available here as well. There is free parking, but lunchtime and dinnertime can be quite mobbed. There is a valet who does an excellent job of directing traffic in the tight space.
The Pantages Theater has been a mainstay of Hollywood for many years. The Academy Awards ceremony used to be held there in the past and you can feel the glamour of Hollywood just walking down the aisles. Now used for large touring Broadway shows, the theater was restored by the Disney company just prior to their long-running hit "THE LION KING" arrived. Having visited the theater before then many times and having always felt it was a beauty, I was stunned to see an ever more beautiful theater the restoration revealed. It is, however, a very deep house and if you have bad eyes, you may want to spring for the orchestra seats closer to the front. But there is no extra charge for walking around the lobby pre and post show to enjoy the Pantages as it might have been when your favorite stars of the past walked the same floor.