This past week marks the first week back in my hometown after two years of living in Orlando, FL. It’s weird to be back in Baldwin County, an area encompassing Spanish Fort, Fairhope, Daphne, and Mobile, Alabama – places I frequented for ten years of my youth.

After living in Orlando and watching construction constantly changing the landscape, it was strange to come back to the area and see it virtually the same. If anything, instead of adding new shops, my local mall has lost staple shops, such as Charlotte Russe, Express, and Shades – shops I frequented when I was younger. Retail shops such as those have a hard time thriving in small towns like Spanish Fort, AL, purely because the mindset of the community is particular. They like certain vibes – mostly southern – and if I store has something different, they don’t tend to do well.

Now that I’m back, and despite the fact nothing has really changed, I’ve made it my goal over the next couple months to rediscover this place I grew up in. When I was younger, I had a narrow mindset, only wanting to be part of the things that would make me unique, and though I’m grateful to have had that mindset, I now realize there were several places I never went because they had a “southern” vibe. I’m a northern girl at heart, having been born in Missouri and growing up in a family based on northern rather than southern traditions.

However, I want to make more of an effort to discover my home of Baldwin/Mobile County for all that it is. I’m wiping away every country, negative connotations to things from back in high school, and discovering the places that make this place unique, such as thrift shops, ice cream shops, and boutiques. I also plan on taking drives out to some of the parks and capturing the essence of Alabama: “The Beautiful”.

This past week, I started out by revisiting some of my favorite places from before college: Serda’s, a coffee shop located on a street corner in Downtown Mobile, and Backflash Antiques, a vintage antique shop also located in Downtown Mobile.

After visiting some of the places I grew up with, I wanted to go to some places I’d never been. My eldest sister is on a hunt for the perfect wedding dress, her wedding scheduled for February, and as Mother of the Bride and Maid of Honor, my mom and I went with her to two bridal shops. The first, Anthony’s Bridal Shop, has a nice selection, but not of what we were looking for, despite their amazing customer care.

The next little bridal shop was Roses and Lace. It’s hidden in this back alley way in Foley, AL, not far from Waterfront Rescue Mission’s (a thrift shop I was sure to check out). We had better luck at Roses and Lace, despite their rather small selection, finding a dress that wasn’t perfect but closer to what my sister wanted. Though we walked away without a dress from both shops, it was a pleasure to work with them and get a clearer idea of what my sister was looking for.

After bridal shopping and a quick pass through the thrifty finds of Waterfront Rescue Mission’s, which felt very much like a Goodwill or Salvation Army, my sister, mom, and I all craved something sweet. We headed back in the direction of Mobile when we spotted an ice cream shop that didn’t appear on our maps.

Polly’s Sweet Treats opened about three weeks ago, and they served delicious Hershey’s flavored ice cream. They also make fresh cones every morning, have yummy chocolate cake, and supports veterans (the man serving us had an amputated leg, but that didn’t stop him from giving us some of the best service I’ve recieved at an ice cream parlor). If it’s not on the map now, it will be in the future. I enjoyed the quaint atmosphere, and the ice cream was both gluten-free and absolutely delightful.

For only being back in Alabama for a little less than a week, I would count it to be a productive few days. In the next week, I’ll hopefully be visiting Birmingham, Huntsville, and wherever the road takes me! To stay up-to-date, I recommend you follow me on Instagram and checkout my Instagram Stories. This is my primary form of communication to my audience on a daily/hourly basis.

Be sure to come back next Monday to see more of my weekly explorations.

Always,Jinapher J. Hoffman

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