Alchemy is one of Birmingham’s top streetwear stores but, its impact stretches far beyond shoes and apparel. Keep reading to learn more about the community Alchemy was created to serve and the lifestyle they work to instill in others.
The story of Alchemy
When you walk into Alchemy, one of the first things you see is a mural on the wall stating the definition of alchemy— a code word that stands for transmuting humans into gold. For Alchemy store owner Ace Graham, Alchemy is about turning our base qualities of fear, ignorance, hatred and shame into love and fulfillment.
The first store was opened in October of 2015 as a streetwear retailer focused on premium goods from high-end brands all over the world. The deeper goal here was to bring together communities.
A new lifestyle
The true purpose of Alchemy was to build community and build relationships so a lifestyle could be introduced to the Birmingham community.
“It’s never been about selling clothes. It’s always been about mixing demographics, breaking down social barriers and getting different demographics in one space to interact that might never see each other in any other light.”Ace Graham, Alchemy Owner
This is done by sourcing brands all over the world that can only be found in Birmingham at Alchemy. These brands are sought after by all demographics. To access them, you have to go to the store and while there, you may meet someone you usually wouldn’t run into.
“When people come here, yeah you might be shopping for a pair of pants but, you also have on a watch because you like watches. And I like watches too. And I know what watch you have on, so now we can start having a conversation about your watch.”Ace Graham, Alchemy Owner
From there conversations can carry on to other accessories you both like, kids, coffee shops you both enjoy and before you know it, you’ve made a new friend you never may have met outside of Alchemy.
Another way Alchemy impacts the community is through its nonprofit, Alchemy Cares.
“Alchemy Cares is a true 501 (c)(3) and it’s our nonprofit that allows us to work with our brand partners to be able to allocate resources to organizations in Birmingham that we believe in.”Ace Graham, Alchemy Owner
Such organizations have included Susan G. Komen, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, street neighbors and other ways they find to activate the community.
Alchemy Running Crew
Alchemy’s community runs started at the end of August and have grown every week since. On Tuesday nights people meet at Alchemy and simply connect with each other. Before kicking off on the three-mile run, they discuss what route they want to take, what the goal for the run is and at 8:10, they take off.
The Tuesday community runs have since inspired more nightly runs. Wednesdays are “Women’s Crew Wednesday” and as the name suggests, is for the ladies. Thursday nights have been added as well for advanced runners ready to take it up a notch.
I am by no means an athlete but, this week I ran with the women’s crew and loved it. The group is supportive and encourages you to relax, focus and keep pace. There’s no competitiveness and no feeling that you need to run as fast as possible.
“I always sprint for a workout, never run distance. So the transition to run farther than I have ever run before is instantly intimidating, making every run that much more rewarding.”Drec Humphrey, Alchemy Running Crew Member
Alchemy team member Tracy Richey explained when you detach from the idea of running being a chore, it becomes therapy. You listen to your body and slow down when needed. If you’re having a bad day, you can join a group of supportive people and get your mind off life’s stresses in a cool way.
“It’s an activity versus going out and getting a drink— which you can do after.”Tracy Richey, Alchemy Team Member
About the runs
While running, Tracy recommends breaking down your day starting with what you ate for breakfast, where you went, how was work and what you’re looking forward to.
If you’re new to running like me, don’t worry about being left in the dust. The run is more of a quick jog focused on going the distance not speed. No one’s a professional runner, they all simply enjoy having a supportive community of people to run with.
“It’s not about being fast, it’s about going the distance. When you slow your pace down it’s unbelievable how far you can go.”Ace Graham, Alchemy Owner
Best of all, there’s always someone in the rear to ensure no one is left behind.
During the run, you connect with other runners. You talk about your days, shoes or whether you all need to stop at Publix for dog food. Instead of focusing on running, you focus on looking up and taking in your surroundings. When I joined the women’s run, we chose a route to see the skyline. Ace led us on a path where we saw the city’s skyline, areas of downtown and even the rainbow tunnels.
If you’re interested in starting your running journey. Alchemy Running Crew member Drec Humphrey says,
“For anyone wanting to start running I would say start. It’s not about the distance. Actively proving to yourself that you can do whatever you believe in your mind is one of the greatest things you can do in this life. You can accomplish anything you put your mind on.”Drec Humphrey, Alchemy Running Crew Member
Planning to join Alchemy on a run? Tag us in your run shots @BhamNow.