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Hartselle Enquirer
Zoey’s Downtown owner Janan Downs (right) pictured with a shopper purchasing an item from the Hartselle gift shop. | Lauren Estes

Shopping, dining and special occasion planning in Hartselle

Lauren Estes

Hartselle Enquirer

Sometimes we hurriedly drive to Huntsville for shopping, or Decatur to get a bite to eat, forgetting the gems that Hartselle’s downtown district possesses.

Businesses that include antiques and formal wear stores, coffee shops and fine dining can all be found in the warehouse style brick buildings lining Main Street in downtown Hartselle.

Zoey’s Downtown offers gifts of all sorts.

Janan Downs bought the store and it’s then current contents in 2011, and since have moved locations and expanded her store several times.

“At that time we didn’t have anywhere that was a full service gift shop,” Downs said. “We hear all the time that nobody goes downtown- but they do. We stay really busy with customers and it’s not just for holiday shopping.”

Downs said the store also offers a bridal registry and wish list registry within the location.

“I have a great local customer base,” Downs said. “We try to have selections that are different from what other businesses offer. We try to keep things in stock that are what people are seeking as well and popular.”

Something specific for Zoey’s is there customer engraver and it’s a friendly labeler for things like pens, bookmarks, pocket knives, home décor, and kitchen items.

“We keep regular business hours, Monday- Saturday from 10-5; we are closed on Sundays,” Downs said. ‘We also have Corksicle products, vinyl and heat press monograming and we offer it on our Zoey’s Downtown products.”

Downs said that they will have gourmet food items that will include grilling sauces and pepper jellies. They often feature them in their sampling days which give people an idea of what they are buying before they have to commit to buy it.

Old Town Coffee gives buyers of the brand a unique blend of coffee unlike anything else locally.

Owners Trace and Ginger Donahoo wanted to bring new flavor to the downtown area.

“At the time when we bought this location, there weren’t any coffee shops downtown and we wanted it to be a place for cultural expression,’ Trace said. “ It’s been an awesome experience being here for the last six months and everyone has really welcomed us.”

Old Town Coffee often hosts singers and poetry artists who are local to share their talent within their business.

“Something we really enjoy is having local talent come in and utilize the stage and share their talents,” Trace said. “We have live music, poetry readings and other ways to involve the community within our business. Something else that is good about us is that we want people to just feel comfortable enough to come in and chill and be able to buy a cup of coffee and talk amongst themselves. Not just a cup of coffee, but also a good cup of coffee. That is really important to us.”

After receiving advice from a former coffee shop owner, Trace and Ginger elected to use an outside roaster to bring a truly unique coffee blend to Hartselle.

“The coffee bean that we use is phenomenal, that is something that we were told would truly make a difference as well, Trace said. “He was actually trained by one of the best roaster’s in the world and he is out of Duluth, Georgia. We were told by a guy who once owned a coffee shop in Cullman that have a good bean really makes the difference.”

The Donahoo family members each play a part in making the business a success.

“We have three kids- Our oldest is 14-years-old and is a freshman at Hartselle High School,” Trace said. “Our middle child is 11-years-old at Hartselle Intermediate School and our youngest is four and is at K-4 at Burleson. So, this is a full family affair. Our two youngest kids hangout here with us in the afternoons until we close.”

For the Donahoo’s, the goal is to have three simple things for their business.

“We want to have good coffee, a good atmosphere, and be host to cultural expression,” Trace said. “So that’s our pronged attack basically. We are open Tues.-Fri. from 6:30 a.m.- 4:30 p.m. and on Saturday we are open 8 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday is our designated entertainment night specifically from 6-8 p.m.”

Although many people have their favorite drinks at Old Town Coffee, some utilize the business for other reasons.

“Something else that we have is the meeting room in the back,” he said. “People have and can rent out the conference room to use for their businesses or events. We’ve also had different group and parties rent out the entire business. We allow people to rent it out at nighttime. Right now, Grace Fellowship church uses our space one day a week and meets here for their service. We actually are a part of their church is well so it’s neat thing being able to have service here.”

Along with being at the center of Hartselle in the downtown area, the Old Town Coffee owners said they have found comfort in being about the community.

“We are part of the Hartselle Chamber and that’s something that we thought would be really beneficial and it has been in a big way.”

Adventure’s Unlimited

Fred and Sandra Smith didn’t start as travel agents. Their previous business was actually Minor Furniture. After some time of manning both businesses, the Smith’s decided to sell the furniture store and just focus on their travel work.

“Fred started the business in 1998 in the corner of Minor Furniture; he ran both of the businesses there,” Sandra said. ‘We then decided a few years later to sell the furniture business and we moved down to where we are now and do travel full time. I joined him in 2005 when I retired from teaching 8th grade English at Hartselle Junior High.”

Sandra said the success in their business has come from the support of their loyal customer base.

“We have been blessed with good people and good business and made many friends with travel,” Sandra said.  “We’ve had loyal customers coming back and also honeymooners who have joined us.”

A typical book for the Smith’s is questions about what a cruise offers, or how to choose a cruise.

“Just as an example, we had a family want a Disney Cruise vacation and wanted recommendations on which ships to look into and we showed them options with waterslides, parks and information of that nature,” Fred said. “We’ve been on 73 cruises so we’ve learned a lot about what is what, if it’s a better idea to drive or to fly to the location where they’d like to go. We take all the information and pick out the best scenario for them based on what they’re wanting.”

The comparative pricing is no question, Fred told the Enquirer.

“Our pricing is the same as what the cruise would charge, we just make commission off of booking the vacation. You’re not going to pay anything higher with us than what you would if you booked directly with them. Most people do not know that we just work off of commission.”

There are a few things that many travel seeking people are unaware of when it comes to the abilities of a travel agent.

“Things like booking a condo at Gulf Shores isn’t something that we do because they’re privately owned typically so you have to go through those businesses. Generally, what we provide are all inclusive vacations/cruises. We work with property in Jamaica, the Dominican Republic and other areas. We go with the group’s because we have expertise on the airports, check-ins, cruises, the transition from one location to another can often be burdensome so we help ease that. “

Adventures Unlimited is located at 122 Main Street.

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