Are Big Box Stores the Best of Birmingham?

Today marks a momentous occasion in my life: Probably the very first time I’ve ever agreed with the comment section of an story.* The Birmingham News (or, or Birmingham Magazine, or whichever of the handful of brands that are really the same company but go by different names) […]

let me explain you liontas

Let Me Explain You by Annie Liontas Review on BookPage

This one was lovely. I’ve reviewed lots of family epics for BookPage, and normally they’re fairly slow and sometimes a little boring. Let Me Explain you has a tight plot, great characters and a wonderful sense of humor. I loved it. Read more of my Let Me Explain You review […]

What Do Rock Music, Taziki’s & Weddings Have in Common? Carrie Rollwagen!

When I was a barista at Starbucks, I went through their management program. It’s an incredible gift that they offer staff members because it’s really thorough, but it can also be pretty tough. I was freelance writing at the time, and clearly not staying at Starbucks for the long haul, […]

Eggs Under Attack! Bird Flu Makes Local Eggs a Smart Choice

In the U.S., we’ve got bird flu problems. Because of an outbreak of avian flu, factory farms have killed thousands of their chickens, losing the eggs those chickens would’ve supplied as well. As generally happens with this kind of thing, low supply has jacked up prices, meaning we may see […]

True Social Media, Black Twitter and Paula Deen’s Fail Whale

Social media gets a lot of (deserved) abuse for presenting an unrealistic portrait of our lives. We filter. We edit. We call ourselves friends with people we’ve never met. But as fake as social media can sometimes be, it can also reveal truths that have sometimes been hiding for too […]

Attack of the Spambots!

Yesterday, I was attacked by bots. Basically, one bot attempted to log into my site over and over, eating up bandwidth until my host provider just took the whole thing down — so if you tried to read my blogs or buy a Localist book yesterday, you were out of […]

The Secret Lives of Carrie Rollwagen

I try not to be too autobiographical on this blog. I use plenty of personal details, but they’re generally used to illustrate a bigger idea — my life as metaphor, I guess. Usually, this strategy helps me make a point and keeps me from rambling, but sometimes it just gets […]

Peaches, Patriotism & the 4th of July

This morning, I went to the farmer’s market at Pepper Place and spent about 20 minutes talking to/pestering Connor from Piper & Leaf. We talked about tea and fireworks, but I also noticed something else: Every time a customer bought a jar of tea or even just grabbed a sample, […]

July 4 in Birmingham: What’s Open for Business?

I can’t bring myself to be mad when local businesses are closed on the 4th of July. Retail and restaurant staffs work very hard, and they deserve a holiday just as much as I do. (This is one of the reasons I hate Black Friday so much, but that’s a […]

Some Like It Hot. Those People Don’t Live in Alabama.

When I first started writing Shop Small, I discovered new local products and new independent stores all the time. Fast forward a few years to now, and I mostly visit the same few local stores and restaurants in my everyday footprint. This was true before I left on The Localist […]