ADDRESS: 297 Prince Ave. #19
ADDRESS: 297 Prince Ave. #19
Athens' newest specialty shop, Revival Yarns, is far more than a place to get yarn and knitting needles. Instead, Revival Yarns surpasses that and acts as a haven for those who want to knit, crochet, learn, and most importantly, connect with others who share their passion. The owners, Lindsay and Cara, opened the shop because Athens lacked one, and now there's a greater opportunity for knowledge and community.
Physically, Revival Yarns feels airy and inviting - it's a place you want to stay in. The shop space is open and takes great advantage of natural light. The yarn is stocked in open shelves, so the products don't obstruct the rest of the store's environment.
I like how the shop is dotted with advice. The product shelves include several patterns, and there are results all around the space. For someone with little experience knitting, these displays are encouraging and reiterate what people can make with their own hands. At the front of the shop, there's a knitters' nook and a small library that houses related books. It seems like the space doesn't want you to leave, either.
Another thing I like about the space is that it incorporates yarn into its decor without being cheesy. There are a few touches of yarn bombing in unexpected places, like above the restroom door. Additionally, all the bunting in the shop is knit, which I thought was really clever.
On April 26th, Revival Yarns had its grand opening, an event featuring snacks provided by the Boulevard Knitting Group and cupcakes from Viva!, a speed-knitting contest, and a raffle for three gift baskets. Somehow I actually won one of those baskets, and it's really great. My favorite part of the grand opening was getting to see this new space utilized the way Lindsay and Cara dreamed it. Now I just have to learn to knit.
ADDRESS: Sandy Creek Park
This month's Rabbit Box story showcase, Out on a Limb, took place last night at Sandy Creek Park. The audience was larger than I expected, expanding out of the amphitheater. Guests were advised to bring blankets and warm clothes since the temperature dropped, but people thought to bring other provisions as well, such as food and dogs. The result was a warm, comfortable atmosphere.
The premise of Rabbit Box is simple: tell a true story. Participants recite a 7-8 minute story pertaining to the event's theme (so in this case, the stories were about going out on a limb). Paper isn't involved: you can't read a speech or bring any notes onstage. If you're interested in telling a story for an upcoming event, contact Rabbit Box here.
Seven slated storytellers and one guest (more on that later), took the stage adjacent to a fire pit. Some stories covered relationships, such as Scott Shamp's tale about his grandfather, David Noah's experience on top of the water tower with a girl he had a crush on, and Alex White's hike in the Ocala National Forest with his father. Other stories were about amazing or crazy experiences, such as Jim Ford's first encounter with whales, Brittany Barnes' road kill hunt, Bert Parks' first night in the army, and Grayson Morris' misadventures of young adulthood.
During intermission, the crowd was encouraged to move around, socialize, and roast marshmallows at the fire pit. One of the slotted speakers, Danetta Silmon, was unable to attend, so guests were encouraged to put their names in a box (the Rabbit Box) to be drawn for a "Cracker Jack story." Because Cracker Jack stories are spontaneous, the speaker only has to tell a four-minute story. The drawn speaker, Andy, told us about how he went out on a limb when he got lost in Rome when he was 17.
Most of Rabbit Box's showcases are indoors, at the Melting Point, but I really like that my first experience was an outdoor show. With nice weather and a theme such as "Out on a Limb," it only makes sense that the stories are told among the trees. As it darkened, the atmosphere changed. Such is nature. The campfire and string lights on the stage grew brighter and felt warmer, a crowd of fireflies served as both an audience and a backdrop, and the words mattered more than ever.
On May 14th, the Melting Point will host "Silver Box: Stories from our Elders." Then, on June 11th, Rabbit Box is teaming up with Art Rocks Athens for a special event. Part of me is sad that the next few Rabbit Box events aren't outside or around a fire, but that just means I'll have a new experience to encounter and new stories to hear.
ADDRESS: 2161 West Broad St
There comes a point where you have to stop driving by a place and walk right in. Such was the case with Taj Mahal, which I pass by all the time on the way to the Kroger on Alps. If you're an adventurous eater or a lover of south Asian cuisine, you need to make a visit.
The decor is somewhat bare and white, but the content makes up for it, and food trumps atmosphere in the realm of grocery stores. Taj Mahal carries food that is found in Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Chinese, and Arabic cuisine.
Taj Mahal's stores range from raw ingredients, such as bags of rice, to pre-packed meal bases that only need meat and produce. The impression I get is that you can walk in with a low or high amount of cooking experience and still find what you need to prepare a good meal.
Taj Mahal's best feature is definitely its many freezers, which are packed with frozen produce, meats, microwaveable appetizers, and even some pre-made dishes. The meat freezer is particularly great, because it's stocked with lamb and goat, which I didn't even know where to find in Athens.
Of course, Taj Mahal carries other items, such as cosmetics, hair dye, and home fragrances. If you're an adventurous cook or just a sucker for ethnic food, stop by Taj Mahal and look at the selection for yourself. I promise that it far outpaces what you'll find in the two corporate grocery stores a few turns away.