New Strip store focuses on locally produced goods

New+Strip+store+focuses+on+locally+produced+goods

Bianca Martin

Alabama Goods, one of the Strip’s newest additions, gives Tuscaloosa shoppers a venue to buy locally made food, jewelry, pottery and more. The store specializes in selling products made by vendors and artists from all around the state.

Owners Sherry Hartley and Beth Williams said the Alabama Goods stores are an expansion of their online business.

“We had an online store, alabamagoods.com, and did a lot of corporate goods too, like gift baskets,” Hartley said. “We kept finding individuals who made very unique, one-of-a-kind things. We traveled the state, going to art fairs, craft shows and stuff like that. Those items didn’t really lend themselves to being put on the website, but we wanted to promote them and promote those individuals who made those things. So we decided that if we could find the right location, then we would open up a retail store.”

When Hartley and Williams were first looking for a space, they decided Homewood, Ala., was a good location, and opened the debut store shortly after.

“That really allowed us to expand the vendors that we were working with and bring in a lot of new items,” Hartley said. “We now have between 250 and 300 vendors now all across the state.”

The owners then had the opportunity to open a second store in Tuscaloosa, after talking to local real estate agent Tracy Gatewood.

“I went to Birmingham and asked them to come to Tuscaloosa,” Gatewood said. “I went up there and sat down with them and told them that Tuscaloosa was a good fit for them and a good fit for their store.”

“We really liked what we saw,” Hartley said. “We really liked the demographics of Tuscaloosa. We came to the store, looked at it, and loved the location. It’s smaller than our Homewood store, but you cannot beat the location. So once again we decided ‘we better do this.’”

Many of their products are not only made in Alabama, but feature the state shape or a prominent symbol, to tie in the local element.

“Our best sellers [in the Homewood store] are food, gift baskets and pottery,” said Hartley. “We have a lot of different, unique pieces like Alabama-shaped wood cutting boards and pepper mills. Then we have a lot of what we call affordable art – paintings and such. We have a good bit of bath and body, jewelry; A lot of different items that are made in the state.”

Hartley said she and Williams feel good about how Alabama Goods has promoted the state’s talent and helped its economy.

“[Alabama Goods] strongly promotes the local economy,” Hartley said. “Our state needed something like this to help showcase the talent that we have in the state and it’s also a economic generator too. Not only are we locally owned, the items are made here. The economic benefits just continue to expand.”

Additionally, Gatewood said she believes Alabama Goods is a great addition to Tuscaloosa’s business scene.

“It shows a wide variety of merchandise from across Alabama. It shows some of the talent that we have in Alabama in what’s being manufactured,” Gatewood said. “Rather than merchandise being just solely around The University of Alabama and college-type merchandise, this is much broader. The store showcases products from all across the state that represent the state well.”

Alabama Goods is located on the Strip at 1400 A University Blvd, next to Surin of Thailand. For more information, visit alabamagoods.com.