Personal touch at a county fair

Published 3:49 pm Monday, June 21, 2010

Over the past three decades, North Shelby mothers have relied upon a little shop around the corner, County Fair Gifts and Monogramming.

One value sets this business apart from the “big box” stores: owner Elaine Buchanan’s personal touch.

“I began making hair bows and jewelry for my children when they were young,” she said. “Soon their friends wanted them, too.”

County Fair was located in Inverness Corners for 20 years. It then moved to Lee Branch, where it flourished six more years. Now, the shop can be found at Greystone Antiques on U.S. 280, next to Auto Master and across from Issis & Sons.

Buchanan still carries her own line of handcrafted jewelry, most with natural stones, some made to order, matching a customer’s outfit.

“First, I find the focal point for the piece — a large pretty stone for example — adding from there, whatever looks good,” she said.

Indeed, her creations are lovely. Buchanan creates baby jewelry with a “growth guarantee,” adding pearls as the child grows. She creates a unique line of diaper bag sets, poolside or beach bags, shopping bags and totes.

While Buchanan spoke, a customer arrived, a mother with two children in tow. They hugged.

“We’re like family,” Buchanan explained, smiling. “I’ve watched these children as they grew.”

Did I say personal touch? Buchanan’s customers are clearly her best inspiration. Her smiles and individual service bring folks back.

In today’s tough times, personalized gifts bring special joy. County Fair offers unique, meaningful items. Most shoppers in our flagging economy strive to meet budgets and stay healthy. Pandemic illnesses do strike, bringing fear of touching public shopping carts and shopping totes. Families look for ways to help protect themselves, and support one another, as more empty storefronts resemble blank stares.

One surviving store offering solutions is County Fair. There, one can buy their own clean personalized shopping tote, then take it to a store or local farmer’s markets, bringing home fresh produce grown in Alabama soil. Supporting local craftsmen is one excellent way to help our economy. Not using disposable shopping bags improves our environment.

Look for Elaine Buchanan and daughter Wendy’s smiles and creations at County Fair in Greystone each Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and Sunday from 1 p.m.-5 p.m. Check out their website at or call 991-9968.

Gladys Hodge Sherrer can be reached by e–mail at