Sunday, November 1, 2020

Main Street Matters

Y'all know I love to travel. I like to visit places that are unique. I like to eat in one of a kind cafes and eateries, see things that are different, listen to different accents and learn new things. I want to see beautiful small communities with vibrant city centers and see how other people live. Getting off the interstates and traveling the backroads, avoiding strip malls and big box chains are ideas that appeal to me. 

If these are the kinds of places I want to visit, why on earth would I wish anything different for my home town? I don't! When I close my eyes and envision a Scottsboro five, ten, twenty years into the future, what do I see? More bypasses and big box chains? No! I see our square dotted with darling cafes and cute shops and exciting event spaces. I see people coming from out of town to visit stores that they can't find anywhere else. I see these locally owned shops and restaurants spilling into the streets surrounding the square, because there are so many of them we can't fit them all onto just four sides of a square. I see more events and bigger, too, because people want to come to our beautiful little town filled with plants and flowers and murals and art. 

One thing that being part of Main Street Alabama has taught me is that a lively economy doesn't just spring from nothing. You have to have something to offer. Do businesses want to come to a town that is depressed and depressing? Do they want to relocate to a town that has nothing to give back? Do their employees want to live somewhere that is ugly and dirty and not loved? No! The changes don't start with the ones who come here. They start with us. And it starts from the inside out. First we change our way of thinking. We become part of the solution, rather than the problem. Then we start with the heart of our town, in our case, our square. We start by cleaning up and sprucing up. We add landscaping and hang flower baskets. 

We paint murals and use many local talents so that each mural is unique. We host events, not just to give our people something to do, but to bring in others, so that they can see what we have to offer. We grow a symbiotic relationship with our business owners. Our events help bring in new customers and, in turn, they stay open for events, they put a little more sparkle into their storefronts, and they become a little more involved, a little more encouraged to try something new. 

To give credit where credit is due, one person really got things going in Scottsboro. Seven years ago, Richard Matthews took it upon himself to singlehandedly give our beloved Variety Bake Shop a facelift. That one act had more impact than any of us could have imagined. I really believe every single good thing that has happened on our square since, was an indirect result of his willingness to give back to his community.

Payne's Soda Fountain has been a big supporter of Main Street and, in turn, we realize just how important this venerable old business is to our town. They stay open for all of our events, stay open later on some nights and they give it their all. Recently, for Halloween on the Square, every employee dressed '50s style and the energy they gave off was contagious. As a result, the place was bustling and people were waiting in lines to get seated. It was gratifying to see.

One new store owner, Adam Stiles of Back Porch Pickin' took it upon himself to add corn stalks to our light poles. He just did it! Nobody had to ask him. He offered. And our town looked amazing for Halloween on the Square, all because one person cared enough to roll up his sleeves and do something he could do. 

Diane Widgeon, the owner of another new store, Sassy Nana, put beautiful flower pots outside her shop and she keeps them watered, too. They look great!

Recently, Magnolia House has started staying open at night. How exciting that was to all of us hoping for a bustling night life in our district. We applaud Magnolia House for stepping out and hope they are just the first of many businesses who will be giving people a reason to enjoy our downtown after five. 

Since the heart of our town is our historic Courthouse and our City Hall flanks one of our side streets, we will always be a downtown where county and city business takes place. Our attorneys took care of the buildings when all the businesses fled in the 80s and 90s. We are grateful for their help and support and we support them. It makes sense for them to want to be near the courthouse where they conduct a lot of business. But, for the other buildings on the square, which are limited, we wish for retail and restaurants. We want businesses that will make people want to walk around the square and shop, sit outside and enjoy music piped from the clock tower and our wifi and read a book or share a meal. We want to show people that we love our town and why they should love it too. 

So, what can you do? I don't know. What CAN you do? What skills do you have? What kind of resources do you have that could help make Downtown Scottsboro better in some way? Only you can answer that question, but we would more than welcome your help in any way your heart and your gifts lead you. Perhaps you know of a great shop or diner that would be a wonderful fit for our town. Call them and have them call us. We are actively on the lookout for new businesses and will be happy to meet with them. Our City Council appreciates our current businesses and will always support them, but they are also enthusiastic about helping new businesses come to our town. They are eagerly working to help Scottsboro be a place that is welcoming to new businesses.

Downtown Scottsboro would love for you to join us in helping to make Scottsboro the best little town in north Alabama. Contact us and let us know how you would like to help.

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Do The Charleston, Chicks!


Want a great get-away for your girls? Look no further than Charleston, South Carolina, the Holy City in the Palmetto state. Charleston has a little bit of everything for you and all your girlfriends to enjoy. Let's check the Three Friends and a Fork girls' get-away checklist to see how Charleston stacks up.

Shopping? ✔️

Yes! Head to King Street for some of the best bargains around. There was a cute little hat shop where Julie and Alli found perfect toppers. We made a mad haul at Shoes on King and they even shipped some of our shoes home for us so we didn't have to fit them in our already overpacked car. The Old Whaling Company on Broad Street had all kinds of yummy smelling creams and soaps and candles.There is a city ordinance for mask wearing, so don't forget your masks!



Dining?  ✔️

Yes, yes, yes! There were so many amazing options, it was hard to choose. We finally settled on









MILLER'S ALL DAY (Try the pink unicorn grits, the sea salt chocolate chip cookie sprinkled with benne seeds, the brown coconut pie and, definitely get your picture made in the photo booth!),         






CAPTAIN WOODY'S in Old Town Bluffton (This was the perfect, laid-back spot for dinner after our tour of Daufuskie.), 





THE GLASS ONION (Owned and cheffed by an Auburn graduate!)

CALLIES HOT LITTLE BISCUIT (Watch the centers of your cinnamon stickies folks! Some people cannot be trusted!)


They were all amazing, but we were really partial to our breakfast/brunch at Eli's Table where the low country Benedict, yogurt and berries and avocado egg sandwich were big hits, 


and our dinner at The Glass Onion. Try the fried chicken, shrimp and grits and most definitely the French fries!




History? ✔️                     

Absolutely! Charleston was founded in 1670, so it is older than the country itself. 


The oldest house in Charleston is a cute little Bermudian limestone building built between 1694 and 1712. We didn't actually get a photo of the oldest pink house, we did, however, find another, absolutely perfect little pink house on Tradd St. 



The 13 houses on Rainbow's Row formed the commercial center of the town during the Colonial period. 



Slaves brought to America from the Rice Coast and known as Gullah, not only taught the colonists about rice cultivation, they also taught planter, George Lucas's 16 year old daughter, Eliza Pinkney, how to raise and use indigo for dyeing. Eliza, in turn, started a whole new commercial venture that completely changed agriculture in South Carolina.




The old Slave Mart, where enslaved people were bought and sold is now a museum and the City Market, where the people of Charleston still ply their wares, including traditional pine straw baskets woven on site by the Gullahs of Charleston, and stately old homes along the Battery are from Charleston's antebellum period. 







On April 12, 1861, Citadel cadets opened fire on the USS Star of the West as it entered Charleston harbor and the American Civil War began.


Scenery?  ✔️

Without a doubt! Charleston is full of beautiful architecture surrounded by palmettos, southern magnolias, ancient live oaks and southern lady ferns. Around every corner there is a beautiful building, home, church, street art or a lush garden tucked away in a courtyard. The horse drawn carriages only add to the ambiance.









Literature? ✔️

Many of our favorite writers set their books in Charleston and the surrounding low country. Mary Alice Monroe, Nancy Thayer, Kristin Hannah, Kristy Woodson Harvey, and Dorothea Benton Frank, just to name a few. But the one that drew us to take an extra little side trip was the low country's Prince of Scribes, Pat Conroy. This group of former teachers wanted to visit the island and school where Pat Conroy taught. It was, without a doubt, the highlight of our trip. 



Not only did we see the school, we saw original Gullah homes, often painted haint blue to keep bad spirits away,  



and the First Union African Baptist Church, the oldest building on the island, built in 1881 for use by freed slaves.


Side Trips? ✔️

Our trip to Daufuskie Island was so much more than we bargained for. With only 400+ residents, the island is incredibly back to nature. But, oh, those residents! What they lack in numbers, they more than make up for in amazing stories.There is Lancy Burns, the owner and creator of Silver Dew Pottery, who has sailed around the world five times. Lancy's grandfather was the assistant lightkeeper at the Bloody Point Lighthouse (literally a house with a light). He didn't drink, but for some reason decided to start making wine and Silver Dew Winery was born.




Then there is Chase Allen, who creates works of art out of iron scraps at his Iron Fish Art workshop. He operates his business on an honor system. Drop your check in his jar or if you forgot your check, just leave a note. He'll call you later for your credit card number. He sold a $900 mermaid while we wandered around his yard watching him work and admiring his art. 



We also took a side trip to John's Island to see the amazing Angel Oak which is estimated to be between 400 and 500 years old. It is massive and absolutely beautiful. 


Sullivan's Island was another little detour from Charleston we could not resist. We had all read Dorothea Benton Frank's, Sullivan's Island, so, of course we had to see it in person. It is truly lovely, with many gorgeous homes and beautiful trees dripping with Spanish moss. 


Something Unexpected? ✔️

Everywhere you look there are surprises to be found! 





We had drinks and rested from all the shopping at a cute little pub, called The Blind Tiger and all the candy you want could be found at Savannah's Candy Kitchen near the old city market.



We caught our water taxi to Daufuskie in Old Town Bluffton. What a cute place! We want to go back and see all the shops we missed. The water taxi, itself, was a ton of fun, as was the golf cart ride around Daufuskie.








There you go. Trip planned! What are you waiting for? You know you are already going to Carolina in you mind!