Behind Bear Creek Gardens, a stone path leads to the bright-red door of a cabin with quaint white shutters. Inside, owner Frannie Daughrity stocks the shelves of her boutique with unique gifts and French-inspired home décor infused with country charm. She spends hours curatingher collection, filling the cozy shop with items that are handcrafted, locally made, or too unique to pass up. If you ask, Frannie can tell you the story behind many of her items—such as the beeswax candles handcrafted by a former pro-skateboarder and her husband, who dropped out of their fast-paced lives to start making candles in a 1970s Winnebago.
If your shady parking spot rests beneath bird-filled trees, or someone scrawled carpetbagger into the layer of grime on your car window, Super Speed Wash can give your vehicle its original off-the-lot shine. With today's Groupon, you'll get $50 worth of car-wash services for $30 at any of Super Speed Wash's seven locations. This Groupon isn't just great for sprucing up your own car: it also makes the perfect passive-aggressive gift for your carpool buddies. Follow @Groupon_Says on Twitter.
Professional six-string shredder Ron Worrell has honed his craft under Grammy-winning jazz musicians and guitar players for Michael Jackson and Jeff Beck. From his studies, he has gleaned the best ways to show beginners the ropes. Lessons for the acoustic, electric, or bass guitar take place in the student's home, at Ron's Music Row studio in Nashville, or even online.
Firefly Essentials delivers moisturizing products straight to your home; these products battle the itchy, red, and uncomfortable skin brought on by dry air and wintry weather. More than 25 varieties of handmade soaps are available—including bar blends ($4.75 per bar) such as coconut breeze, lemongrass, and cucumbery melon—that transform the body into a tasty treat for nocturnal, closet-dwelling trolls. Goat-milk-based body lotion will ensure sleek skin by wicking away spilled nacho cheese, while beeswax lip balms formulated with cocoa butter, sweet almond oil, jojoba oil, and tea-tree oil will soothe the mouth pillows after a season of chappage. Otherwise, opt for one of Firefly's quick gift sets, like a four-pack of natural soaps tied in raffia cord ($19.50).
In 1925, Early’s Honey Stand set up under a sprawling shade tree alongside Highway 31—one of the main roads on the journey to Florida. Tempted by signs emblazoned with the words "Honey," "Bacon," and "Sausage," travelers would pull their cars over to browse the country store. There, local honey, sweet sorghum, slow-smoked sausages, and country hams promised customers a tasty souvenir of the south—if only they could resist polishing the purchases off before the end of their road trip.
When the construction of the interstate and the invention of hovercrafts rerouted drivers away from the shop, loyal customers were still possessed by gnawing cravings for the stand's rustic fare. They began phoning in orders and sitting patiently by mailboxes until their delectable deliveries arrived. Today, Early’s Honey Stand remains one of the largest mail-order companies in the south. They’ve bundled their ever-expanding inventory of old-fashioned jams, baking mixes, cheeses, and condiments into shipments for presidents, CEOs, Supreme Court justices, and every Looney Tunes character with a southern accent.
The staff at Kaitlyn’s Loft bedecks their storefront and virtual shelves with colorful, inimitable gift items designed by name-brand manufacturers and personalized by the shop’s on-site engravers and monogrammers. The Simply Violet tote by Vera Bradley brandishes paisley patterns and ample storage space for well-written novels and unwritten autobiographies ($34.50), and the grapefruit body butter by Archipelago grants skin the gift of softness ($30). Toss around fresh greens with the handmade Soho salad servers ($40), or adorn fashion-forward appendages with glistening beads, charms, and pendants by Chamilia ($20+). The baseball bib shields wearers from spaghetti spills and foul balls, and the rubber duck hand wash swathes mitten fillers in soap and suds.
Standard Furniture traces its origins back to 1912, when a local family began traveling through Birmingham, peddling fine household furniture out of a wagon. Four generations later, the business has blossomed into 13 retail stores throughout Alabama and Tennessee, and its century-long commitment to quality furniture and customer service won it the Alabama Retail Association’s Silver Award as one of the Retailers of the Year in 2011. Each gallery abounds with bedroom, living-room, and dining-room furniture from top designers such as Lane, along with mattresses in a range of shapes and styles from brands such as Tempur-Pedic, Serta, and Jamison. At each location, a knowledgeable staff awaits to offer design counsel, suggesting pieces that best suit a household’s style or will hold up against a disobedient pet woodchuck.