Some Ideas for Shopping Local, Shopping Small for the Holidays

‘Tis the season to start thinking about holiday gift-giving. Only this year, it comes with a unique pandemic-infused twist.

To help make the annual holiday shopping experience more of a joyous occasion and less of a chore, Lowe Mill Arts & Entertainment is hosting its fourth annual “Yule Y’all,” from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Dec. 5. Enjoy one of the most popular outdoor-centric holiday market and spirit sampling events of the season. There will be a tantalizing assortment of maker art, holiday creations, food, and music, along with a spirited chaser. This year’s event will also fully embrace the social distancing mindset and mask protocol.

The lighting of the iconic Lowe Mill water tower will take place at 5 p.m.

With more than 150 working studios and seven galleries, there’s something for everyone at Lowe Mill. From Cigar box guitars to sculpture and all points in between. What’s more, it’s all created by local artisans and/or owned by local entrepreneurs. Support Your Community: Shop Local!

Lowe Mill Arts and Entertainment

2211 Seminole Drive

Hours: Wednesday-Thursday, noon-6 p.m.; Friday, noon-8 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

(Note: Individual vendors and artists’ hours may vary)

(256) 533-0399

Lowemill.art

Facebook: Lowe Mill Arts

 

Wondering where to begin? Here’s a handful of clever gift ideas, designed to jumpstart even the stubbornest of holiday shopper’s block. If crowds are a concern, many of the businesses listed also have an online retail presence. Listed below are a few of the many talented artisans, makers, and entrepreneurs in Huntsville/Madison. Beginning at Lowe Mill.

CHOCOLATE’S THE WORD

For those stumped on what to buy, it’s hard to go wrong with the gift of chocolate. This isn’t any ordinary chocolate, mind you. Owners Caitlin Lyon and Michelle Novosel have built a mini empire based on their elaborate, unique, and most importantly, delicious confections. In addition to chocolates, there are mini-cakes, ice cream, and chocolate and coffee beverages. Coming soon, just in time for the holidays: Pizzelle’s fabulous Drinking Chocolate ornaments. Willy Wonka beams proudly over their well-run enterprise.

Pizzelle’s

Railroad Room 4A

Hours: Wednesday-Saturday, noon-4 p.m.

(256) 513-9745

Pizzellesconfections.com

Facebook: Pizzelle’s Confections

 

THERE’S A SONG FOR THAT

Everyone loves the gift of music. And vinyl has made a comeback in a big way. Vertical House has a plethora of 33-1/3 titles, from the well-known to the most obscure. As a fixture at Lowe Mill since 2007, Vertical House is your go-to for all genres of music. Their newest location has more square footage, which means more CDs, cassettes, 8-tracks, and of course, more VINYL. If something you want isn’t in stock, owner Andy Vaughn can order it for you.

 

Vertical House Records

Railroad Room 9

Hours: Wednesday – Friday, noon– 6 p.m.; Saturday, noon–5 p.m.

(256)  658-2976

verticalhouse@gmail.com

theverticalhouse.com

Facebook: Vertical House Records

 

JEWELRY IS A GAL’S BEST FRIEND

It can also be a guy’s best buddy, right? Connie Ulrich’s jewelry is a fusion of natural materials and skillfully worked metals and precious stones. Her studio presents an attractive selection of hand-crafted jewelry, rings, bracelets, necklaces, and earrings. There’s even a workshop for making your own ring! Along with the amazing assortment of jewelry, Ulrich also has a fine selection of small paintings available for sale.

Connie Ulrich

Studio 121

Hours: Friday, noon-6 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; and by appointment only

(256) 536-4653

Connieulrich.com

Facebook: Connie Ulrich Studio

 

WELCOME TO FABULOUS HUNTSVEGAS

Cheers to the Rocket City! If you’re seeking unique, head to Green Pea Press. Green Pea Press has a wide assortment of t-shirts, mugs, coasters, koozies, earrings, and stickers. They also have an assortment of frame worthy screen print art. For those who would appreciate an “experience” kind of gift, Green Pea Pressoffers printing workshops and classes. Gift certificates are also available from $25-up.

Green Pea Press

Studio 150

Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

(256) 533-0399

Greenpeapress.com

Facebook: Green Pea Press

In addition to its Lowe Mill studio, Green Pea Press has a location on Governors Drive:

Green Pea Press

2720 Governors Drive

Hours: Monday-Friday: 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

(256) 924-0451

 

IT RESIN-ATES!

Up-and-coming resin artist Kenzie Johnston (aka KenziB) will first delight you with her personality, then with her eye-catching and creative assortment of colorful geode-like designs and preserved flowers in resin. The flowers are always bright and fresh; Johnston picks up a new batch daily.

KenziB

Studio 301

Hours: Wednesday-Saturday, noon-6 p.m.

(601) 481-5707

kenzi.boo.art@gmail.com

kenzib.com

Instagram: kenziejohnstonart

 

WHISKEY A GO-GO

One man, One whiskey. NASA engineer Jeff Irons has a natural gift for distilling only the best. Love, patience, and commitment are evident in the final product. And for those reasons, Irons One has continued to grow exponentially in popularity. Irons One is a small batch, handcrafted whiskey. “The only way I know how to make the best whiskey is to be totally involved in every step of the process,” says Irons. “I can only do that if I stay small enough in size to manage each step.” Be sure to check online and sign up to the Irons One e-mail list for product updates and availability.

Irons One Whiskey

Studio 2061

Hours: Wednesday-Saturday, noon-6 p.m.

(256) 536-0100

ironsonewhiskey@gmail.com

Ironsone.com

Although Lowe Mill provides one of the most uniquely creative shopper’s paradise, here are a few more places to consider.

 

BEER IS THE WORD

If you’re looking for exceptional craft beer, look no further than Das Stahl Bierhaus. With 32 beers on tap, you can have some now, then take some home in a 32- or 64-ounce glass growler.

One of the big hits at Das Stahl this season are the Advent beer calendars. The calendars come pre-assembled and filled with a jolly assortment of holiday brewskis. The Advent box can also be purchased and filled with a selection of personal favorites. Not sure what beers to buy? For $15 more, one of the crew at Das Stahl can fill up that calendar with a selection that’s guaranteed to delight. In addition to draft beer, Das Stahl Bierhaus sells a wide assortment of canned and bottled beers, decorative steins, branded glassware, and t-shirts. Still undecided? There’s always the gift card option.

Das Stahl Bierhaus

7914 Memorial Pkwy SW, B2 (Village Center)

Hours: Monday-Wednesday, noon-8 p.m.; Thursday, noon-9 p.m.

Friday & Saturday 10 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sunday, 2-8 p.m.

(256) 858-1495

dsb-hsv.com

Facebook: DSBHSV

 

SWEET HOME ALABAMA

When looking for the perfect gift, check out Alabama Goods. Along with assorted gift baskets, Alabama Goods boasts one of the largest selections of Alabama-made pottery. In fact, everything in the store is created by artisans here in our sweet home Alabama! Owners Sherry Hartley and Beth Staula search far and wide throughout the state for just the right art, jewelry, pottery, crafts, and food items.

Alabama Goods

2722 Carl T. Jones Drive, Valley Bend Shopping Center

Hours: Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; Sunday, noon-5 p.m.

(256) 270-7439

alabamagoods.com

Facebook: Alabama Goods Huntsville

 

WINE NOT?

Uncorked is in the heart of Providence Main and owner Saranne Riccio’s secret to her success lies in her simple philosophy, “Wine doesn’t have to be intimidating.” Along with a variety of wines to suit any budget, there are tasty tidbits, such as Mama’s cheese straws, Arabella’s dilled onions, candied jalapenos, and pepper jelly; Belle Chevre goat cheeses, and Pizzelle’s chocolates. Add these delightful goodies with a great bottle of wine to your next gift basket.

Uncorked Wine Shop & Tasting Room

485 Providence Main St

Hours: Tuesday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-7 p.m.; Friday, noon-8 p.m.; Saturday, noon-7 p.m.

Closed Sundays and Mondays

(256) 970-4717

Facebook: Uncorked Wine Shop Tasting Room

 

And don we now, our seasonal apparel. If you’re looking for a variety of ladies and kid’s clothing, along with assorted accessories and swag, Redbird Boutique is the place to go. Co-joined with University Pickers, Redbird features over 60 local designers and there’s a wide variety of items to choose from. Bird is the word, shop local!

Redbird Boutique and Gifts at University Pickers

3024 University Drive

Hours: Monday – Friday, 10 a.m.–6 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m.–6 p.m.; Sunday, noon–5 p.m.

(256) 536-5738

Redbirdhsv.com

Facebook: Redbird Boutique and Gifts

Listed below are two of the many local designers with merchandise available at Redbird Boutique.

 

WHISK YOU WERE HERE

The brainchild of Jonathon Fowler, Fow Wow merchandise is iconic, quirky, and uniquely Huntsville. Many of the designs are sure to provoke a smile, or even a laugh. Fow Wow brand products are sold throughout Huntsville in retail establishments, such as Redbird Boutique and Huntsville Museum of Art. Merchandise can also be ordered online. Check their website or Facebook page for a complete selection of products.

Fow Wow Designs

fowwowdesigns.com

Facebook: Fow Wows

 

SOUTHWESTERN HEART CHIC

Summer Sklar, an El Paso native-Huntsville transplant, puts her heart and soul, along with beads and wire, into her captivating assortment of Mexican/Southwestern-meets funky chic jewelry. Sklar creates a beautiful selection of earrings, necklaces, bracelets, and wine charms. Each piece of Heart & Wire jewelry is one-of-a-kind and is available at Redbird Boutique or via online at the Heart & Wire website. Custom orders are also welcomed.

Heart & Wire

Heartandwire.com

Facebook: Heart and Wire

 

 

 

 

 

South Huntsville Companies Host Private Topping Out Ceremony

Freedom Real Estate and Capital, Invariant and Torch Technologies hosted a Topping Out ceremony for their multi-tenant facility in South Huntsville.

Due to COVID restrictions, the event was held privately Friday. In building construction, topping out is a builders’ rite traditionally held when the last beam is placed atop a structure during its construction. The completion date for the facility at 4040 Chris Drive is set for early next summer.

Joining Freedom CEO Bill Roark at the ceremony were Huntsville Madison County Chamber CEO Chip Cherry, Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle, Invariant Director of Advanced Technology John Montgomery, Torch Technologies Senior Director Brady Porter and Turner Construction’s Project Executive Brandon Tucker.  Turner raised the final beam atop the structure.

“Congratulations to our design and construction partners for keeping the project on schedule and moving forward safely during COVID,” said Freedom’s Director of Capital Projects Lee Holland.

The design is led by Arcspace Studio and construction is led by Turner Construction. The project has achieved 25,000 work hours to date with no lost time accidents or injuries.

The 4040 Chris Drive Development is 92,000 square feet and will feature a mix of office, research and development labs, light manufacturing, assembly, and integration space along with a high bay.

Governor Announces ‘Revive Plus’ $200M Small Business Grant Program

The state has launched Revive Plus, a $200 million grant program to support small businesses, non-profits and faith-based organizations in Alabama that have been impacted by COVID-19, Gov. Kay Ivey announced.

Revive Plus is the second wave of funding for these organizations with 50 or fewer employees and will award grants of up to $20,000 for expenses they have incurred due to operational interruptions caused by the pandemic and related business closures.

“As the state has rolled out over $1 billion of the CARES Act monies to the individuals and businesses affected by COVID-19, it became evident the group most overwhelmingly hurt during the pandemic were the small ‘mom and pop’ shops,” Ivey said. “A second round of assistance through Revive Plus will ensure that the small business owners who have borne the brunt of the downed economy can be made as whole as possible.

“As we head into the holiday season, my hope is that this will be welcome news for our businesses and help ease their burdens from what has been a very hard year.”

Entities may receive up to $20,000 to reimburse qualifying expenses if they have not received federal assistance for the corresponding item they are claiming with the state of Alabama.

The Revive Plus grant is in addition to any state of Alabama Coronavirus Relief Fund grant previously received, including the Revive Alabama Small Business, Non-Profit, Faith-Based, and Health Care Provider grants. There is no set cap on the number of entities that may be awarded a Revive Plus Grant.

Information and applications are available at the Coronavirus Relief Fund website – https://crf.alabama.gov/. The application period is noon Nov. 23 through noon Dec. 4. Grants will be awarded to qualifying applicants on a first-come, first-served basis until the funds are exhausted.

“The Revive Plus program is much needed in our small business economy,” Senate General Fund Chairman Greg Albritton (R-Atmore) said. “I commend Governor Ivey for taking this action, recapturing unspent dollars and using a proven program to bring economic relief to our small business owners.”

Alabama received approximately $1.9 billion of CARES Act funding to respond to and mitigate the coronavirus pandemic. Alabama Act 2020-199 initially designated up to $300 million of the Coronavirus Relief Fund for individuals, businesses, non-profit and faith-based organizations directly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. After the initial $100 million for small business that was reimbursed starting in July 2020, legislative leadership approved a second round of $200 million from allocations made to reimburse state government and from other grant programs that have ended with the full allocation unspent.

The Bell Still Rings for Madison Station Polar Express Christmas on Main

MADISON — Yes, the bell still rings for any organization wanting to decorate a Christmas tree for the seventh annual Madison Station Polar Express Christmas on Main, but Friday is the final day to register.

Hosted by the City of Madison and the Madison Station Historic Preservation Society, the event kicks off the holiday season with decorated Christmas trees displayed along Main Street in historic downtown and sponsored by the Madison business community.

Part of the Polar Express Christmas on Main, the trees will be on display Nov. 28-Jan. 2. Trees will be selected for the Mayor’s Choice, Most Creative and Honorable Mention awards to be announced at the Jan. 11 City Council meeting.

Trees are $100 for for-profit organizations and $50 for nonprofit organizations and can be decorated Nov. 20-27.

An official tree lighting will take place virtually Nov.29.

The number of Christmas trees available is limited so register by Friday to ensure your company is part of this annual holiday celebration.

For more information, contact the Madison Chamber of Commerce at 256-325-8317.

NHBA Taking Care of Business on Huntsville’s North Side

North Huntsville is open for business.

And the North Huntsville Business Association has opened an office and business center to help entrepreneurs and small business owners find success.

The NHBA Wall of Fame recognizes supporters of North Huntsville businesses.

The new office is at 2007 North Memorial Parkway, adjacent to HC Blake in the remodeled shopping center at the intersection with Oakwood Avenue. Among those joining NHBA President Reggie McKenzie and other officers at the office’s “soft opening” Thursday were State Rep. Laura Hall, City Councilman Devyn Keith and Huntsville-Madison County Chamber of Commerce Vice President Small Business & Events Pammie Jimmar.

“It’s important we not only identify businesses we can help, but it’s also about redevelopment and what businesses’ needs are,” said NHBA Executive Director Judy Hardin. With some 30 years of experience working with small businesses, Hardin recently retired from Raytheon as manager of Small Business Partnering. “We are here to support them, finding the means for them and collaborating.

“As businesses grow, the community will grow.”

One of the means is a Google Fiber-supported Promote the Parkway Initiative. The program aims to assist the city in attracting business along the North Memorial Parkway corridor. It includes one year of free rent to a start-up small business in North Huntsville.

Keith, who is opening the North Side Dark coffee shop in the shopping center, has been working to get needed help – financial and advisory – for the North Memorial Parkway corridor.

“This is the first example of seed money from the city,” he said. “We have to keep the public and private partnerships.

“You can’t get the location and right of way the way North Huntsville has it.”

Hall, whose district includes North Huntsville, said the redevelopment of the area is vital and that inclusion is a primary aspect of the redevelopment.

“We want to see that the inclusion is a reality,” she said. “The importance of inclusion and diversity is a benefit to all.”

Jimmar echoed Hall’s remarks on diversity and inclusion … and added another aspect.

“As a Chamber, we’re here for you,” she said. “It’s about diversity, inclusion and equity.”

Keith credited NHBA President Reggie McKenzie with being instrumental in promoting North Memorial Parkway and the need for redevelopment and opportunities for small businesses and entrepreneurs.

The NHBA also unveiled its Wall of Fame recognizing Google Fiber, Redstone Federal Credit Union and the City of Huntsville as keep supporters and Walk of Fame Stars honoring Keith and former District 1 City Councilman Richard Showers Sr. for their work for North Huntsville.

“This has been a real inspiration for the community to see there is an opportunity for entrepreneurs,” said NHBA Vice President Alex Adams. “This is a star for Huntsville, particularly the north side of town.”

For more information on the North Huntsville Business Association and the Promote the Parkway Initiative, visit http://northhuntsvillebusiness.com/

City Opens Haysland Road from Grissom High School to Redstone Road

Things are moving along in South Huntsville and they will be moving along a lot easier now.

On Tuesday, “Phase II” of Haysland Road through the Hays Farm development was opened from Grissom High School to Redstone Road.

Mayor Tommy Battle, City Council President Jennie Robinson, and Director of Engineering Kathy Martin cut the ribbon for the two-mile roadway.

The two-mile roadway includes a 12-foot-wide multiuse path through approximately 250 acres of preserved open space. (Photos/Steve Babin)

Haysland Road provides a parallel road in the city’s growing southern corridor to ease congestion on Memorial Parkway as well as provide direct access to Grissom High School and Redstone Arsenal.

The $8 million project includes a 12-foot-wide multiuse path through approximately 250 acres of preserved open space.

The Hays Farm development will include single-family homes, apartments and townhouses to complement retail businesses and a nine-acre city park.

Huntsville Companies Among Fortune Best Small & Medium Workplaces

Playing on a national stage, three Huntsville-based business have landed on Fortune’s Top 100 Best Small & Medium Workplaces 2020 in the country.

All three companies – Intuitive Research and Technology Corp., PeopleTec and Canvas – were recognized by Fortune magazine as top performing companies. To be eligible for the ranking, they must also be Great Places to Work-Certified companies, meaning at least 70 percent of the companies’ employees report a consistently positive experience working at their company.

Earning a spot of the list is based on confidential survey feedback representing more than 189,000 employees working at small- and medium-sized businesses throughout the United States.

Intuitive, an aerospace engineering and analysis firm in Cummings Research Park, is ranked the highest on the list at No. 5. Ninety-eight percent of Intuitive’s employees say it is a great place to work, compared to 59 percent of employees at a typical U.S.-based company.

“It is a true testament to the Intuitive culture and our employees that we have been honored as Best Workplace in the Nation nine years in a row, all nine years in the top five,” said Intuitive President Vergenia Shelton. “Receiving this honor reflects what is most important to Intuitive … Our employees are the driving force to our success, which is why we invest so heavily in our people. It has always been our priority to provide a workplace where employees are proud of where they work and excited about what they do.”

Also in Cummings Research Park, PeopleTec. is ranked No. 9. The employee-owned small business got its start in Huntsville in 2005 to help provide and retain a highly skilled workforce throughout the area. The No. 9 ranking came with a 98 percent employee satisfaction rate.

“Our unique culture and our commitment to the Warfighter creates a second home for our employee-owners, where trust is high, and everyone feels welcome,” PeopleTec CEO Terry Jennings said.

Coming in at No. 35, Canvas provides services and technical solutions for federal and commercial customers. The company finished with the highest positive employee rating from among the three at 99 percent.

“Canvas is proud to be recognized by our employees for creating one of the best small business workplaces,” said CEO Jami Peyton. “Our high-trust culture has not only helped us navigate a challenging 2020, but also continued to propel Canvas forward in the best way possible. We simply couldn’t be a Best Small Workplace or Great Place to Work without our incredible employees.”

Great Place to Work is a global people analytics and company culture research firm. Certification is based on responses to employee questionnaires based on the extent to which employees trust leaders; the respect with which people are treated; the fairness of workplace decisions; and how much camaraderie there is among the team.

A Virtual Celebration honors Madison Chamber of Commerce’s Best in Business

MADISON – Virtuous Realty Group was the “virtual” winner for the Madison Start-Up Business of the Year in the annual Madison Chamber of Commerce 2020 Best in Business Awards.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the winners were announced virtually Tuesday afternoon in 13 categories. The winners will be honored  at a dinner Thursday from 5-7 p.m. at Tom Brown’s restaurant in the Target Shopping Center. It will include the winners and Chamber representatives in a small masked and socially distanced event.

Conditioned Air Solutions was named Best Business of the Year and U-Lock-It Storage won the Small Business of the Year category.

Cathy Miller from United Way won Community Servant of the Year; Alice Lessmann from Signalink received the Excellence in Leadership & Service Award and Carlos Mendoza of Edward Jones was the Ambassador of the Year Award winner.

Among the Small Business Awards, Anglin Reichmann Armstrong was recognized as Professional Service Business of the Year and Madison Visionary Partners won Best Non-Profit of the Year.

Fit4Mom-Madison was named Health & Wellness Business of the Year; Hawthorne at the Ridge was the  Essential Services Business of the Year; and Insanity Complex won Culinary Business of the Year.

Huntsville Ballet danced off with the Arts, Entertainment & Hospitality Business of the Year; and Thrive Alabama won Medical Practice of the Year.

 

Cepeda, Lewis win Russell G. Brown Executive Leadership Award

Sandra Cepeda was a double-winner at the 35th annual Huntsville/Madison County Chamber Small Business Awards.

Actually, she was a double co-winner.

Cepeda and Kimberly Lewis were named the winners of the top honor – the Russell G. Brown Executive Leadership Award. Cepeda heads Cepeda Systems & Software Analysis and Lewis is the CEO of ProjectXYZ.

Cepeda’s company was named a co-winner with Sentar for Government Contracting – Professional Services Business of the Year.

The annual celebration was held virtually this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are so proud of all of our small businesses,” said Pammie Jimmar, the Chamber’s Vice President of Small Business & Events. “It has been a very tough year for so many of them, and we hope this event  gives them a boost to let them know we love and support them, and we value what they bring to our  community.”

Below are the categories and the winners.

  • Young Professional of the Year: Bekah Schmidt, South Huntsville Main Business Association
  • Nonprofit of the Year: Huntsville Ballet
  • Professional Services Business of the Year: New Beginnings Family Law, P.C.
  • Culinary Business of the Year: Mango’s Caribbean Cookhouse
  • Emerging Business of the Year: MaDonni Beauty
  • Government Contracting – Professional Services Business of the Year: TIE – Cepeda Systems & Software Analysis and Sentar, Inc.
  • Government Contracting – Technology Business of the Year: Signalink, Inc.
  • Technology Business of the Year: SimTech
  • Service Business of the Year: 47E
  • Retailer of the Year: Redline Steel
  • Local “Creative” of the Year: Party Life, LLC
  • Medical Practice of the Year: Focus Physiotherapy Huntsville
  • Woman-Owned Business of the Year: Troy 7
  • Russell G. Brown Executive Leadership Award: TIESandra Cepeda, Cepeda Systems & Software Analysis and Kimberly Lewis, PROJECTXYZ, Inc.
  • People’s Choice Award: Active8 Communications

This year’s judging was completed by chambers from various locations around the United States,  including the Greater Dalton Chamber of Commerce; Greater Summerville/Dorchester County Chamber  of Commerce; Terrell, Texas, Chamber of Commerce & Convention & Visitors Bureau; and the  Community Development Foundation – Chamber of Commerce in Tupelo, Miss.

 

MartinFederal Wins Contract from Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency

MartinFederal Consulting has been awarded a one-year contract to support the Defense Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Accounting Agency.

Huntsville-based MartinFederal is a Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business focused on providing solutions-based services to the Department of Defense, Department of Energy, Department of Justice, and other federal agencies,

The DPAA mission is to recover and identify Department of Defense personnel from past conflicts. As part of the first phase of this multi-phase project, the MartinFederal team will conduct a page-by-page inventory of the Korean War Reference Documents at DPAA Headquarters.

“As an SDVOSB, we understand the importance of the DPAA’s mission, and hope that our support in this project will aid in the accounting effort of the more than 7,600 servicemen who remain unaccounted for from the Korean War,” said Corey Martin, founder and CEO of MartinFederal. “We stand ready to lend our inventory and records management capabilities for this and future phases of this accounting effort.”