Happy’s Variety Store has a new attitude

By COURTNEY BENNETT / Community Columnist 

Harriett Panchoo has one of those unforgettable smiles. She warmly greets her customers as they walk into Happy’s Variety Store in downtown Montevallo to purchase home goods, clothing, party supplies, novelties, greeting cards and gifts. It is truly a hometown experience that shoppers cannot get at a big box store or online.

She and her husband opened their store on Nov. 14, 2015, naming it “Happy Dollar” as a nod to Harriett’s childhood nickname, “Happy.”

Harriett enjoys running the store because she loves people. “I love communicating with people and hearing people’s stories. For me it really is more than just being in business—it’s meeting new people and getting to know the community and becoming a part of Montevallo.”

For the past three years, Harriett and her husband have hosted a free Community Christmas Dinner. “It’s a way that my husband and I have been able to give back to a community that has been so good to us,” she said. “That is truly my vision because I believe that is what I’m called to do, to feed. I hope to be able to move into maybe doing something in the summer and not just at Christmastime.”

Originally it operated as an independent dollar store, but as it has evolved over the last four years, Harriett and her husband updated their name and logo. “We decided to rebrand as a variety store, which really is what we are.”

With assistance from a Façade Grant offered by Montevallo Main Street last autumn, a 50/50 match funded by private donations and overseen by Main Street Board member Pam Phagan, Harriett was able to add striped awnings to her exterior windows, update paint and install a pedestrian-oriented blade sign featuring her new brand.

“It has given a total new, not just look, but feel to the store,” she said. “It has honestly just given me a new excitement for being here and just doing what we do. That was a way that Montevallo gave back to us. We are excited about the new look and it’s almost like we have a new attitude!”

Ultimately, they would like to expand their store and create additional locations.

Happy’s Variety Store, at 808 Main Street in Montevallo, is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday.