Meet the family behind Smith’s Variety—a Crestline favorite since 1950

Smith's Variety
Located right next to Piggly Wiggly in Crestline. (Selah Vetter / Bham Now)

A quaint store brimming with toys, candy, party goods and everything in between is nestled in Crestline Village. The sign’s red and white letters may be shiny and new, but Smith’s Variety has been part of this community since 1950. Read on to learn how this one family has continued its legacy.

Keeping the doors open since 1950

With an abundance of party supplies + other goods, this store has been a go-to spot for the community for many years. (Selah Vetter / Bham Now)

Back during her Samford University days, Amy Simpson would shop at Smith’s Variety—a go-to spot for every little thing and need. It was first started in the 1950s by the Smith family and later bought by the Glazners in 1975. This toy and gift shop has been a longtime staple in Mountain Brook—not just a beloved shop for Amy, but the whole community.

After living in Florida with her husband Brad and two kids where they owned a local sports gear store, the family decided to move back to Birmingham in 2017. The couple’s interest was piqued when they read an article about Smith’s Variety going up for sale. So, they threw their name in the running.

Do you remember the craze that occurred during the August 2017 solar eclipse? Well, people lined up around the block to buy eclipse glasses from Smith’s Variety—thousands and thousands of pairs were sold. The community support reminded former owner Jim Glazner just how much he loved the store, leading him to take it off of the market.

A couple of years down the road, Jim changed his mind to sell again and remembered the Simpsons’ interest in purchasing the shop.

“Two years later, he had held onto our business card. When we first started talking to him, we thought that there were so many obstacles that we would have to overcome to make it happen. It was like one thing after another cleared the pathway.”

Amy Simpson, Owner, Smith’s Variety

Making Smith’s their own

Smith's Variety
Amy and Brad Simpson. (Nadia Wilder Photography)

Without knowing the upheaval 2020 would have on everyone’s lives, the Simpsons closed the deal just a few weeks before the pandemic shut down just about everything. They were wondering what in the world they had just got themselves into.

They might not have been able to let people in the store, but they could still help people put together the famous Smith’s Variety Easter baskets, a longstanding tradition. Workers in the store had shoppers on FaceTime as they ran around finding the perfect little goodies to fill the baskets with. The overwhelming support from the community during this time gave the Simpsons the reassurance they needed to keep the store going.

Even though they’ve remodeled the store, the original integrity of Smith’s Variety is still there. From classic mailbox bows to popular gift-wrapping ribbons, the Simpsons are keeping what the community has wanted for years. Plus, staff members who have been at the store for 20+ years are still greeting customers with a smile today.

What can you find at Smith’s Variety?

From sorority to local school gear, Smith’s Variety has all that you need and want. (Selah Vetter / Bham Now)

Since it’s a variety store, you can find just about, well, everything. They’re always looking for the latest trends while keeping the store stocked with everyday essentials and listening to what the community wants in the store.

While Amy and Brad have traveled to Atlanta and even Las Vegas to find vendors and goods to sell, they’re passionate about finding local Birmingham vendors to sell in the store as well. From Yellowhammer Creative prints to stationery and watercolor art made by Samford University students, the Simpsons love lining the shelves with goods from Birmingham’s talented creators.

Can’t-miss events around the corner

With stocking stuffers and jaw-dropping big gifts, Smith’s Variety has everything you need to put under your tree. (Selah Vetter / Bham Now)

Somehow, garlands and Christmas lights are already being strung around town. With festive displays and these upcoming events, Smith’s Variety is spreading the holiday cheer.

  • Play Day
    • What: Try out all of the newest toys and games for kids of all ages.
    • When: Saturday, November 12 | 10AM-4PM
  • Crestline Village Holiday Open House
    • What: A day full of holiday events, sales + trunk shows at local retailers and restaurants.
    • When: Thursday, November 17 | Mountain Brook High School Jazz Band performance at 10:30AM | Exceptional Foundation carolers at 2PM
  • Pet Grinch Photos
    • What: Get a perfect holiday picture + have an ornament made of your pup’s paw or little’s handprint.
    • When: Sunday, November 20 | 1PM

Are you excited to browse around this shop and find the perfect gift for that special someone? We don’t blame you! Plan your visit today:

Curious about other small businesses to support in The Magic City? Check out our local biz guide with 900+ businesses.

Selah Vetter
Selah Vetter
Articles: 232