2012 1st Ave N.
Birmingham, Al 35203

Resident Portal: Existing Client? login here.


Tag: smallbox

Rainy Day Bham Brings Smallbox Arts to Railroad Park

rainy day bham

rainy day bham

When we wrote about Smallbox Co., we weren’t sure what to expect of the first one. Would the design itself be super high-concept? And what would it sell? There are practical problems, after all, with trying to stock and shop a true shipping container. But Rainy Day Bham is an excellent fit. It maximizes both the container and the Parkside location to create organic gallery shopping you’re sure to enjoy.

During off-hours, Rainy Day’s Smallbox looks like what it is: a basic shipping container. Open, though, it’s a combination of white box and outdoor room. White shelves along a back wall hold the more substantial goods: colorful abstract art, Birmingham pillows, pottery, even dog treats. Rope swing shelves on the window wall display art and cards and tea towels against the naturalist backdrop of a park view. Go on a sunny day, and you’ll likely be shopping in natural light.

Selling local arts and crafts could easily skew eclectic and folk art-y, but owner Saramia Arenas has kept the shop thoughtfully modern. Her clean but relaxed aesthetic makes Rainy Day Bham exactly the kind of place you’ll want to pop into while you’re in the area. And its local focus makes it easier to justify an impulse buy.

The shop is a little like a permanent Art Crawl, where its community location is just as important as the art on offer. We’ve talked before about Railroad Park being a kind of community center, and with its focus on modern, local craft, Rainy Day only ads to that feel. Meanwhile, the park’s ability to draw in a broad cross-section of Birmingham residents may be just the setting for Rainy Day’s mission to “help grow and nurture the creative community in the Magic City.”

It’ll be there through the end of the year to find out.

Finding Cool with SmallBox Co

railroad park

Plans for Box Row in Avondale gave us a hint that shipping containers might be Birmingham’s new retail incubators, and the announcement of Smallbox Co. has basically confirmed it. Want to know if your neighborhood will host cool new concepts? Look for the Smallbox.

The idea, a REV Birmingham newsletter reported, is that businesses trying to evaluate possible locations can use SmallBox’s retail-ready shipping containers to develop a temporary shop and see where it works. Birmingham’s Design Review Committee has approved SmallBox’s launch of a semi-permanent container in Railroad Park, according to REV.

The concept seems especially useful for places that don’t have a lot of accessible vacant space. REV-driven pop-ups have worked well in the Theatre District, for instance, but what if you’re considering a location like Five Points South or Railroad Park? Pop-ups there need different tactics, which is where Smallbox comes in.

smallbox rendering
Image credit: SmallBox Co

Owner Eric Tasker knows he’s not the only shipping container game in town and says folks often confuse his business with Box Row. But Tasker’s plan is game-changingly nimble. His eventual goal is to “have 15, 20 locations and be able to offer that, rotate people around,” Tasker told us. “And to let them test where they need to be.”

Because start-ups can move the entire space to another location, there’s also more room for custom layout and branding than your average pop-up. Tasker — an architect by training — told us he’ll be working through the details of space design and build as part of each tenant contract.

What makes us giddy about the news, though, is the idea that neighborhoods throughout the city will be able to host emerging businesses. Local retailers will be able to find their ideal neighborhood in the same way that our clients and blog readers might: plenty of reading and research, then some quality time feeling a neighborhood out. And for our clients, future SmallBoxes offer one more search filter for a neighborhood’s transformative energy.