Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Opinion | Shopping with small businesses is rewarding in more ways than one

CW / Abby Cope
Ernest and Hadley Booksellers is one of many local businesses students can support over the summer.

With warmer air, later sunsets and much emptier streets, it’s obvious throughout Tuscaloosa that it’s summertime. 

Tuscaloosa is a major tourist attraction during football season, with local restaurants seeing lines out the door and boutiques flooding with fans looking to fill their time. But just because the season ends doesn’t mean shop doors close. 

Many local businesses rely on local customers and students to keep their sales going. As noted in interviews by Culture Editor Ava Morthland, many businesses in Tuscaloosa depend on bringing in high sales during football season to keep their businesses alive during the summer months.  

Though many students go home during summer, The University of Alabama still has students registered for on-campus courses during the summer terms.

Tuscaloosa is filled with stores and shops that have been here and only here for years, yet we as students still often opt to shop online or at chain retail locations. Though the convenience and reliability of these options is attractive, it isn’t sustainable for our fellow community members. 

Living in a college town is an opportunity to meet people from all different parts of the world with different outlooks and insights. With only four years spent in Tuscaloosa, why waste them going places we can find anywhere? 

Ernest and Hadley Booksellers is a prime example of this. Established in December 2016, Ernest and Hadley has been supplying Tuscaloosa with books and a sense of community for almost nine years now. 

Located at 1928 Seventh Street, the bookstore is a hidden gem of Tuscaloosa. Co-owner Avery Leopard gave me some backstory on their family business.

“Before we even had the location, my mom was always working on the business,” Leopard said. 

Leopard’s parents were on a trip in Paris when her mother took a picture of her father standing under an ‘Ernest and Hadley’ sign, referring to Ernest Hemingway and his wife. Leopard’s mother quickly told her husband that she had decided to make that the name of her store.

“To which my dad said, ‘What store?’” Leopard said. “My mom will get lots of ideas and forget to tell us. When they got back my mom told me about her idea.”

Owners Eatsy and Ian were able to keep the sign, which now is proudly on display at the store as a reminder of their happy place.”

Leopard understands the importance of supporting the local community. He holds in-person and virtual book clubs, with many readings focused on works of local and west Alabama natives. The bookstore even has an entire section dedicated to books written by local authors. 

Leopard has many favorite memories with the store, almost all being with her family. “It’s been truly wonderful getting to work with family; that was the whole reason I came back here to Tuscaloosa.” 

Community members have been very supportive of the store, and without them, Leopard said  the store wouldn’t still be open.

Like Ernest and Hadley, Crux Climbing is a small business run by people with a big heart. First opening its doors in February 2021, Crux Climbing is a rock climbing gym run by Jackson Scott. 

“Owning and running a business has changed me drastically,” Scott said. “I’m not one to be overly talkative and outgoing; I tend to be an introvert. It helps me be able to talk to people with ease, everyone is so friendly. It’s helped me be more social. In the beginning, I definitely struggled, but I’ve been able to meet everyone that comes and share with them my passion for climbing.”

Scott said he has found great support in the climbing community, more real support than can be found in just a harness. 

“A lot of people don’t know what to expect with climbing,” Scott said. “You’re getting a good workout in, but it’s like a mental puzzle as well. And you’re not competing with people. Everyone’s lifting you up, trying to help you achieve. That’s my favorite part.”

Small businesses are the backbone of a local community. The people who run them are full of life and lessons and are just waiting to share with those who walk through their doors.  Tuscaloosa is filled with these hard-working people who passionately serve community members with their own special talents and interests. 

Though it can be easier to shop from a store you’re already familiar with, it can be far more rewarding to shop small.

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