Savvy Birmingham shoppers in search of the perfect gift head “over the mountain” to the cozy suburb of Homewood. Their destination? Eighteenth Street South, a wide, old-fashioned boulevard with an abundance of locally owned boutiques and restaurants. It’s a place where shopkeepers greet customers by name and sell hard-to-find gems, such as vintage barware and wood-pulp sheets. The avenue, which stretches less than a mile, has been attracting customers since the late 1920s, when leaders of the newly formed Homewood decided their town needed its own shopping district. Eighteenth Street South soon emerged as its main street—a role it continues to play nearly a century later. Finding the boulevard is easy: It’s just down the hill from Vulcan, the towering iron statue and symbol of Birmingham commanding the crest of Red Mountain. In other words, one local treasure helps guide the way to another.
Second homes are first priority at this camp and cottage outfitter, which keeps lake and beach retreats in tip-top, rustic-chic shape. Local woodshops build most of the furniture, including the popular swinging beds. Staff designers can help spruce up a home anywhere in the Southeast. seibelscottage.com
Salute the Yellowhammer State at this shop that sells everything from cheese straws to oil paintings—all of it cooked, crafted, or created in Alabama. Pick up a state-shaped coaster cut from carpeting or a T-shirt emblazoned with “Est. 1819,” celebrating the year Alabama joined the union. And don’t miss the Earthborn Pottery dinnerware, which graces the tables at Hot and Hot Fish Club, a popular Birmingham restaurant. alabamagoods.com
With farm-raised vegetables, fresh Gulf seafood, and a James Beard–nominated chef, this lunch spot is not your typical meat-and-three. You’ll find classics such as fried catfish, chicken pot pie, macaroni and cheese, and fried green tomatoes, along with new twists like Parmesan grit cakes. For dessert, tuck into the Girl Scout Tagalongs chocolate peanut butter torte. johnnyshomewood.com
a.k.a. Girl Stuff
This sassy store offers moderately priced, but decidedly fun, apparel and gifts. Owner Dee Tipps usually keeps a pitcher of cranberry margaritas at the ready for customers and delights in sharing recent finds, from plush pajama pants with a cellphone pocket to faux fur bags. facebook.com/akagirlstuff
White Flowers Gallery
Step inside this enchanting shop and enter a dream world of blossoms, candles, and clothing, almost all of it white (hence the store’s name). You won’t even find a scuff on the floor; it’s repainted every Saturday night. Leave your coffee outside before perusing the merchandise, which includes christening gowns, silk blouses, and botanical-themed shirts. whiteflowers.com
Travel back in time at this mid-century modern gallery featuring vintage and replica furniture from the forties, fifties, and sixties. A knowledgeable staff can aid customers in navigating Lucite tables, Bentwood dressers, and Mad Men–style barware. Complete the throwback look with abstract art and wall-to-wall shag carpeting, available to order. shopsohoretro.com
Savage’s Bakery & Deli
This Birmingham institution has been indulging the city’s sweet tooth since 1939, with cinnamon roll meltaways, custom cakes, petits fours, and more. Stop in and pick up a smiley-face cookie—or a dozen. Covered in orange icing and featuring a chocolate mouth and eyes, the butter cookie is so popular, the bakery created round business cards in its image. shopsavagesbakery.com
Make bedtime a dream at this upscale home boutique selling everything from headboards to slippers. Shoppers swear by the Italian Legna sheets made from wood pulp (they feel like silk but breathe like cotton). And kids love the selection of stuffed animals, because few things say “sweet dreams” better than a plush Fuddlewuddle Elephant. threesheetslinen.com
This article appears in our Spring/Summer 2018 issue of Southbound.