It’s always important to shop local, but in 2020, it means so much more. Businesses across Alabama have stretched, pivoted and endured in ways they never dreamed possible to meet the huge challenges of this year.
And now, with Christmas around the corner, they’re looking to finish strong.
Take Boozer Farms, for example.
Taylor Boozer said her family’s business in Thorsby had to make significant changes this year as COVID-19 took hold.
“Prior to the pandemic we operated farm stands and attended farmers’ markets to move the majority of our crops and value-added goodies,” she said. “When the pandemic hit, most of our markets were shut down, so we shifted our focus to our CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) boxes.”
The service blossomed, and Boozer Farms was able to send more of its fresh fruits and vegetables directly into their customers’ homes each month through the CSA boxes.
“We expanded our delivery locations and were blessed to have a huge response from previous and new members. The CSA program is absolutely what kept our farm going this year,” Boozer said.
This Christmas, the farm has added gift baskets to its online store, and they have been a big hit. The customizable baskets, which range in price from $20 to $60, are usually available for pick up at the farm within 24 to 48 hours after the order is placed.
“We’ve partnered with other local growers to provide local honey, pecans and peanut butter in the baskets, in addition to our jams, dried apples and granola,” Boozer said. “The jams that we have available are made following old-fashioned recipes here at the farm from the fruits that we grow or gather from other farms.”
Boozer Farms isn’t alone when it comes to rising to new challenges.
Alabama businesses large and small have added new services like curbside pickup and contactless delivery, while others have created new products to adapt to the quickly changing market.
“Across a spectrum of diverse industries, Alabama workers and businesses have demonstrated an amazing degree of resilience during what has been the most unpredictable and difficult of times,” said Greg Canfield, Secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce. “Their determination and creativity have been inspiring to witness.”
So, as you check off your shopping list, here are just a few ways to support different types of Alabama businesses this season:
In addition to Boozer Farms’ baskets, other growers in the state sell products that are perfect for gift-giving or the holiday table. Spanish Fort-based Southern Farms Honey makes a variety of honey products infused with other flavors, such as its Stingin’ Sweet Honey that mixes in habanero and jalapeno peppers; there’s also Cinnamon Pecan and Cinnamon Creamed flavored honey. The company sources its honey from hives in Central Alabama and along the Gulf Coast, and its products are available at grocery stores and other merchants in Baldwin and Mobile counties.
Whether you’re thinking big or small, Alabama manufacturers have it covered. Coast & Cotton produces hand towels that are processed, designed and printed in Auburn, in a wide range of cheerful and locally inspired collections. Eco-friendly dyes are used to print the custom, hand-drawn designs on heavyweight cotton flour sack material. The towels, priced around $20, are sold online and in stores across the U.S.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the state, the Mercedes-Benz U.S. International factory continues to add to its product line. This year saw the addition of the Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600, an ultra-luxurious SUV with features such as temperature-controlled cup holders and a fragrance generator system. It’s priced at a cool $161,500, if you’re feeling especially generous.
Alabama communities have longtime retailers that have become iconic staples, like Fairhope’s Fantasy Island Toys. There are also newer additions, such as the Naomi & Olive gift shop in Dothan, that have helped fuel rebirth in city centers. And scattered across the state are homegrown chains, such as Homewood-based Alabama Outdoors, with other locations in Inverness, Florence, Mobile and Trussville.
Few businesses have been impacted this year like restaurants, but many local favorites are forging ahead. Huntsville fine dining restaurant Cotton Row, for instance, is offering cooking classes, holiday boxed meals and charcuterie boards and wine for gift giving, in addition to gift cards. Another Alabama favorite, Jim ‘N Nick’s Bar-B-Q, sells sauces, rubs and the mix for its famous cheese biscuits online and across its network of 34 locations in seven states.