Let’s say you’ve finished a galactic morning visit to the Rocket City’s US Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama, or maybe you were wandering around looking at all the interesting shops and meeting local artisans like the guys at Nickel Cigar Box Guitars at the Lowe Mill Arts & Entertainment complex.
It’s okay if you don’t need any nails or toilet seats or lawnmowers; this store is not really about hardware (although it claims to be the oldest operating hardware store in the state of Alabama – since 1879.)
Harrison Brothers is a gift shop featuring locally-made crafts, but it’s also….
….A jumbly pile of everyday items that have become all fancy and historic simply through the passage of time.
….A place where old smells will waft up through your nose, head to the olfactory bulb and ram right into your amygdala lizard brain, releasing memories that you’ve forgotten you still have.
….A museum of sepia-toned Southern history and stories thanks to the Historic Huntsville Foundation volunteers and employees who can tell you everything about the objects and photographs stacked from floor to ceiling.
….A chance to dig your hands into every pile of colorful glass marbles that you could wish for; listen to them rattle and clink even if you’ve never played marbles in your life.
When you’ve filled up your shopping bag at Harrison Brothers, it will be time for something to eat, so stop in at nearby Below the Radar Brewhouse for burgers and/or Southern comfort food, plus a beer flight with samples of their craft brews made in-house.
I was taken to the Brewhouse as a guest of the Huntsville / Madison County CVB (Convention and Visitors Bureau) after speaking at a conference nearby, and it was fun to unwind with one of their beer flights and see the ways they’ve worked a bit of a space theme into the slots for the glasses.
If you’ve never tried shrimp and grits, then this is the place to do so. The Brewhouse is open for lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch.
There’s a lot to see and do in Huntsville, but don’t miss a chance to wander and poke around downtown. They’re doing a lot to revitalize it (there were some interesting pop-up parks recently) and plus, who can resist marbles and beer?!
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