Voted to have the best milkshakes by Birmingham News’ readers, Eclipse Coffee & Books boasts an eclectic selection of hot and cold beverages, as well as a menu that brims with sandwiches and delectable breakfast options. Literary theorists can interpret the poetry of pastries with the pecan pie milkshake ($6), or nurse a cup of chocolate turtle latte ($4.50) as they thumb through a novel from one of Eclipse's three book rooms. A bite from the avocado melt ($5.50) with red onion and provolone will satiate hungry bookworms, while Eclipse's selection of beers and liquor is as ever-changing as Abe Lincoln's facial expressions on Mount Rushmore. In addition to its laid-back vibe and stacks of intriguing literature, Eclipse hosts several events each month, including palate-pleasing wine tastings, trivia nights, poetry slams, and soothing musical performances.
The Bead Biz's bright, cheerful shop is bursting with beads and baubles of all shapes and sizes. Sparkling batches of Swarovski crystals, Japanese seed beads, and glassworked beads invite an artistic eye to adopt them and set them loose upon a string that catches the eyes of passersby and arouses the envy of dully colored mollusks. To burn love into the heart of an uninformed crush, pick up a few fire-polished strands ($3 each or $12 for six) and intertwine them with a variety of base metal chains ($1.75 and up). Or nourish natural beauty with turquoise, jaspers, and agates ($9 and up each). A wide selection of jewelry-making tools is also available. Uncertain shoppers can call upon the sharp eye of The Bead Biz's friendly cats or the friendly knowledge of the expert staff; the owner is a veteran lampworker and wire-wrapper who has a degree in fashion.
For more than three decades, the framing specialists at The Framin' Shoppe have preserved memories behind glass. They build custom frames for flat items such as diplomas or photographs and build shadow boxes to contain three-dimensional items such as quilts or football jerseys with the athletes still wearing them. The shop also purveys DIY framing materials; posters; prints commemorating Alabama, Auburn, and other SEC football teams; and a wide selection of mirrors. Conveniently, the company operates at four Birmingham locations.
In 1965, Popular Mechanics ran a small classified ad for Brookstone, a new catalog company that packed its pages with functional products and detail-oriented descriptions. Brookstone quickly expanded to meet the high demand for its collection of “hard-to-find tools,” and opened the door to its first retail location in 1973. Today, Brookstone’s more than 300 nationwide retail locations allow customers to test-drive its ever-growing lineup of interesting products, which range from Bluetooth-enabled massage chairs to power adapters designed for international travelers and their electronic passports. Staying true to its roots as a catalog company, Brookstone houses an even larger selection of products, each waiting patiently to be shipped, on its website.
Dedicated to a next-day turnaround for many assignments, Thompson's encases everything from diplomas to completed jigsaw puzzles within the ornate borders of more than 2,000 customizable frames. Guests can also peruse a collection of 300 ready-made frames that will fit snugly around standard-size pictures, or commission custom tabletop frames to showcase unconventionally sized posters. More than 100 framed, beveled mirrors further populate the store, silently reflecting the reversed T-shirt graphics and snarky grins of each shopper's personal doppelgänger. Frames and mirrors are complemented by a collection of original oil paintings, which help homeowners adorn their walls with a colorful still life, a muted landscape, or an unflinchingly honest portrayal of the human condition.
Nestled in historic downtown Trussville, The Spotted Zebra's cheerful pink sign invites pedestrians to meander through aisles of eclectic gifts and accessories. El Deano insulated tote bags gleam with green paisley and blue wave patterns, and T-shirts for children and adults bear heartwarming adages and cute designs. A kaleidoscope of jewelry pairs with patterned sunglasses and houndstooth watches, and monograms customize cups, towels, and wall décor. Throughout the year, a metamorphosing stock of seasonal décor and gifts also prepares shoppers for Christmas, Halloween, and Calendar Awareness Day.