Pea River Historical
Vital to our City of Progress
A few weeks ago, I noticed a small class of giddy 4 year olds holding hands and trying hard to stand still. They were waiting to cross the street on Main and College. Their teacher, Miss Julie, was the Pied Piper and parents surrounded the munchkins on all sides. A friend told me that Miss Julie and her pre-K class were on their annual trip to Milky Moos and The Depot Museum. Julie has been leading her class for 20 years on these Downtown outings using the museum to illustrate all the lessons she teaches about cotton, peanuts, and other agriculture in the Wiregrass region! There is $2 per person charge to see the Museum but for 6 and under it is free. History is stressed in Julie’s school and she makes it interactive by allowing the 4 year olds to participate in a scavenger hunt finding items they have studied during the year. When I spoke to Miss Julie she explained the vowels that week were I for ice cream and E for Enterprise. Many parents have been so impressed with the guided tour that they have returned to spend more time looking at arrowheads and the fire truck. Although Miss Julie’s Little Country School is located off of Hwy 27, she comes downtown frequently and thinks The Depot Museum and Downtown “look better than they have in years.”
That is thanks to a group of volunteers whose headquarters is the Pea River Historical & Genealogical Society founded in 1970. President Doug Bradley and First Vice President and Librarian
Georgia Fleming run the store the majority of the time. After a guided tour of The Depot, visit PRHGS and shop and/or research your family tree, read about the past, and gaze over ancient photos. Handcrafted wood carvings, glossy cream and rust statues comprised of Alabama clay, and Boll Weevil themed mugs and t-shirts are waiting to be purchased by the many tourists from as far away as Denmark, Australia, and Italy. Selling the unique merchandise, procuring annual memberships ($20 per year), and collecting the $2 museum fees; is how the Historical Society stays afloat. The PRHGS owns The Little Red Schoolhouse, The Welcome Center, The Depot Museum, and The 108 S. Main Street Gift Shop/Library. Their strong presence in our community has continued to encourage historical preservation of family records, old newspaper articles, and relics of our Wiregrass past. Sadly the Welcome Center and Little Red Schoolhouse are closed because of lack of manpower and rising maintenance costs.
Volunteer shifts are just 2 hours and you don’t need any experience. Georgia Fleming would be happy to have High School Seniors and college kids take on shifts in the summer or on weekends during school. Georgia Fleming says “that’s one thing I would like to do is involve younger people…” No matter what your age Georgia needs people to help rearrange the store and build shelves. Vendors to create more products from like hand-woven baskets or merchandise with Alabama flair. The PRHGS works at making history less intimidating and more accessible by having the Sons of the Confederate Veterans and United Daughters of the Confederacy dressed in historic costumes during the Fabulous Fourth Friday
Events. These history enthusiasts always attract a crowd and answer questions while showing off their outfits.
Georgia Fleming is a natural born teacher who easily captures my imagination with descriptive stories about our local history. While doing a 7th grade Family Tree project, Georgia became obsessed with Genealogy. Her mission is to assist families in tracking their genealogy. She does this for free because she enjoys connecting the dots just like a puzzle or mystery. She recites a poignant story about reuniting a granddaughter with grandparents she never knew existed. This life altering experience illustrates the Historical Society’s belief that when we respect the past, we enrich our present. Georgia quotes from The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck ““How can we live without our lives? How will we know it's us without our past?””
This summer, take the child in your life for a Milky Moos ice cream and a trip to The Depot Museum. Next stop by the gift shop/Library and thank a Pea River Historical and Genealogical Society volunteer.Email Georgia at , call the shop at 334-393-2901. The PRHGS’s website is www.peariver.org, also on FB, and donations can be mailed to P.O. Box 310628, Enterprise, Al 36331
Discovering what Downtown has to offer.
Shopaholic by Maggie Haas
Open up the doors of Shopaholic and you feel the smile and energy that echoes Debbie Gaydos’ dynamic personality. Although she had previous retail experience at a restaurant/antique store on Lake Whitney, for the last 25 years she has been a Federal Service employee at Ft. Rucker. Working with a community of military spouses needing employment inspired her to open this downtown entity. Debbie met many creative military folks who had nowhere to channel their creativity and make money. Debbie humbly claims she saw a need and filled it and she has struck gold. Shopaholic has been open since March and business has is booming!
Shopaholic is a home décor and gifts store with unique items that are handmade, refurbished, and brand new! The store’s concept is creating an experience for the consumer by offering free tea, coffee, or lemonade while browsing the merchandise. This charming space provides her 13 vendors, (comprised of 9 military spouses and an Active Duty soldier) different sections of the shop to sell their creations. Debbie says she thinks of “this place as a small incubator for retail.” The exposed brick, crystal chandeliers, and stained concrete floors are simultaneously glamorous and earthy. Opening a store in Downtown Enterprise was the only place she considered. She loves the quaint sidewalks, high energy feel of the Downtown community, historic store fronts, and welcoming shopkeepers.
Unfortunately renovating an older building is not for the faint-of-heart. Surprises abound behind walls and under floors but Debbie had a helpful landlord and excellent contractor so these obstacles were easily overcome. However, Debbie says, “The initial part of getting everything set up to open is a challenge.” She ran in circles because she wasn’t sure of the necessary sequence to opening her Home Décor establishment. The lessons learned have inspired Debbie to work with the Enterprise Chamber of Commerce writing an instruction manual about this process. Debbie serves on the Downtown Enterprise Business Association’s board because she is passionate about encouraging entrepreneurs to open stores and restaurants in Downtown Enterprise and make it a destination. The best challenge the Shopaholic proprietor had was keeping up with the demand of her customers and she conquered that by requiring the vendors to stock a 3 month supply before the doors opened.
The vendors’ reaction to this retail opportunity and the customer’s response to this lighthearted atmosphere have delighted Debbie. Debbie says “I have never met so many fun people in my life.” Debbie and her staff have catered to the customer by staying open later, on demand, and helping load items into cars! They will go above and beyond to make sure Shopaholic is meeting the consumer’s needs. There are some high-end items but mostly there are huge bargains because Shopaholic is for everyone!
Hours are Tuesday through Friday 10 to 5:30 and Saturday 9 to 3
More information about Shopaholic can be found on FB and www.enterprisedowntown.org under the Visiting Enterprise Tab, then click on Business Listings.