‘Shop Alabama’ tour makes stop in Clanton

Published 4:46 pm Wednesday, November 14, 2018

By J.R. Tidwell / Editor


The Alabama Retail Association is making stops across the state as part of its third annual “Shop Alabama for the Holidays” tour.

The association came to Clanton on Nov. 14 as its third stop of six on the tour.

The idea behind the tour is to promote small businesses and shopping locally.

The event featured a handful of speakers, including local small business owner Angela Mallinson. Mallinson, a native of Chilton County, represents local industry in a couple of different ways.

“I was born here, raised here and now I’m raising my family here,” she said. “My family has been in business in this county for many years. It started with my grandfather back in the late 1930s. He started in the sawmill business, and that progressed to sand and gravel and a concrete business. One of my brothers still operates the sand and gravel business. My other brother owns Pierce Farms produce stand.”

Mallinson and her husband opened AW Realty in Clanton a few years ago, and she has since started Mulberry Hill Boutique in the downtown area.

“As our family began to expand, I wanted to go shopping for our 19-month old,” she said. “I couldn’t find a place to shop for her and realized I would have to go to Birmingham or Montgomery to buy her clothes. I thought that was crazy, why didn’t we have something here locally? I began to do research and was thinking about opening a boutique here in Clanton. I wanted a place where people could shop and find clothes that were good quality at affordable prices. On Black Friday of last year, I opened my small business in a small strip mall where our real estate office is located. I took over our office. I told my husband to give me a little spot to set, and he said I could have one section. It wasn’t long before I took up the whole office, and my husband said ‘this isn’t a real estate office, it’s a boutique.’ I had customers, and I had to have a place.”

Mallinson moved the boutique to a location across from Main Street Café on June 1 of this year.

“Business has been so much better since I have been downtown,” she said. “People come to eat or to go to another boutique and they see me and come in. We are getting a lot of out-of-town people traveling through. It’s really encouraging to see out-of-town people come in.”

Joseph Parnell, the newly appointed chairman of the Chilton County Commission, also spoke during the event.

“Your campaign means a lot to me as an elected official,” he said. “I’m also a business owner over on the west side of the county. My family has been in business for six generations. We understand the whole buy local campaign and what it means to us. We have talked about doubling your gift and what that does.”

During the holiday tour, the Alabama Retail Association is unveiling its new holiday hashtag, #DoubleYourGift.

“When you shop locally for Christmas, you are not only able to give a gift to someone you care about, you also give a gift to that business owner,” Parnell said. “You allow them to be profitable and industrious and remain in business. You allow them to employ other members of the community, and they are able to buy gifts for their loved ones because they are employed.”

Parnell said that local sales tax revenue creates multiple benefits for residents.

“When you shop locally, your local cities are able to support you through garbage collection, street repaving, law enforcement and fire departments; all of those things that make your quality of life better,” he said. “When you shop locally from the perspective of the county government, you have a one-cent sales tax go directly to our school system, which benefits our children. We need more of that. We have complaints against our school system just like any other county, and if you want to see those facilities improve, then shop locally. That sales tax generates somewhere close to $4 million that goes directly into our school system.

“We also have a one-cent sales tax that goes directly to pay the bonding on our hospital. That was done by a vote of the people, with almost 80 percent of the people of Chilton County being in favor of building that hospital. There’s a lot of benefit from shopping local. There are times when you can’t, but when you can shop locally, it is very important that you do. I say this to people all the time — if you don’t shop locally, don’t complain about not having (something). Businesses cannot stay in business without your support.”