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.
A row of gleaming handles awaits customers at 32 Degrees, with each serving station unleashing a unique flavor of frozen yogurt tasty enough to warrant press mentions from the Birmingham News and Oxford Sun. Guests peruse the frosty options, serving themselves swirls of nonfat treats such as orchard peach or no-sugar-added Tahitian vanilla. The meltable technicolor mountains can be topped with more than 50 options, including roasted almonds, fresh seasonal fruit, candies, cereals, and pieces of used gift cards. Flavors rotate frequently, allowing repeat customers to gradually work their way through more than 40 flavor possibilities.
Mattress King's wide selection of mattresses from well-known brands such as Sealy Posturepedic, Embody, and Stearns & Foster run the firmness and texture gamut, giving sleepers of all shapes and sizes a shot at a good night's rest. Sealy's Posturepedic queen-sized Spirited supports dreamers with a comfortable durability ($409 for the mattress, $699 for the set). Dozers with a penchant for luxurious expediency snooze on the Stearns & Foster Bradenburg queen-sized bed, which lends backsides a plush surface and a patient ear as they complain about lousy desk chairs ($719 for the mattress, $1,169.10 for the set), or opt to bounce to another to decide which size fits the mold.
A black wrought-iron scroll accents a solid-wood headboard. A teak and wicker dining set transitions between indoor and outdoor dining. Sleek yet sturdy, these furnishings from C. Daniel Furniture are built with an eye toward longevity. The company bucks trends in favor of simple, utilitarian designs, and this philosophy also extends to its manufacturing practices. Carpenters strive to construct durable, long-lasting pieces, assembling them with solid brass and iron hardware and bolts, rather than staples. They forge many of the show room’s furnishings from acacia wood that’s free from MDF, veneer, and mystical woodland spirits. In addition to Old-World craftsmanship and high-quality materials, they further ensure satisfaction by meticulously inspecting each piece before it leaves the factory.
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.
An affordable and monumental selection of sofas, beds, desks, and sarcophagi mingle good-naturedly in Ashley Furniture’s wondrous warehouse. Sydney accent chairs command shoppers’ attention with woody legwork, while minimalistic Cubit ottoman sets do captivating belly dances to bedazzle bored sultans. Matrix accent chairs, sofas such as the Victory chocolate sectional ($699), and beds including the Keytown panel bed ($499 queen) anticipate increasing the comfort of various human inactivities.