Scents and the City

CandlesTim Burt’s new candle line celebrates Birmingham’s neighborhoods.


Tim Burt knows Birmingham—and Birmingham knows Tim Burt. After all, he’s touched most of her neighborhoods, renovating some 30 houses throughout the city. Burt grew up in Anniston, Ala., and spent his 20s traveling up the East Coast opening stores for Pier 1 Imports. After a decade, he decided to come back home to Alabama, and chose Birmingham because she bustles like a big city, but is small enough to be known. Once here, he got to know her.

He opened Parkside Home and Garden, Inc., in 2000, a store that had five locations throughout the state at its peak. He was also a founding member of the Avondale Historic District. The original Parkside is still located across from Avondale Park in a once-condemned building Burt renovated (he now leases the building to the owners of Parkside Café.)

In 2012, Burt opened in Savannah, Ga., and when he did, he found that the line of candles he carried at Parkside wasn’t available in Georgia. “I tried to find a line of replacement candles, one that I would be proud to represent, but just was not happy with what was out there,” Burt says. And Burt felt that candles were about more than just scent. “They set the mood and bring out emotions,” he says. So he decided to develop his own line, and he decided to base the candles on the famous Savannah Squares. “I wanted something that the people of Savannah would be proud of, that tourists would get excited to take home since Savannah is a huge tourist town,” he explains. “The Squares were the obvious answer; they are what makes Savannah so special in my eyes. That really set the wheels in motion.” He created 24 candles with 24 scents—based on the history of each square—for the original 24 squares (there are currently 22 active squares.) Burt’s hope was that the scents of the candles contributed to helping people connect with the town, and he got it right; the candles were a hit in Savannah, so much so that Burt decided to create a second line, this time for Birmingham’s neighborhoods.

The result was a line with 18 candles, each representing a Birmingham neighborhood. Each candle has a specific scent that ties into the neighborhood history in some way. For example, Burt shares, Mountain Brook’s scent is Medi-Water, “a wonderfully fresh” scent based off the brook that is its namesake. “The smell does not always reflect the smell of the area, but the feeling you get there,” Burt says.

In an effort to illuminate the distinction of the different areas of Birmingham, the candles will also come with a card detailing each neighborhood’s history tucked into the box. Burt says he knows that each area of town is singular, full of its own details that make it different than all of the other parts—and he knows that the people who live there appreciate those little nuances. “I have customers from all over the area and know and love so much of the area and the people,” Burt says. “I know how passionate they are about the area of town they call home.”

But because all of these neighborhoods blend to form the complexity—and brilliance—of the Magic City, the whole line gets the stamp of “Birmingham Botanicals,” a name Burt chose because of the natural beauty of Birmingham. “No matter what part of the region you live in, we are blessed with beautiful gardens, foliage, flowers, and lush terrain,” he says.

The candles, which are poured in Alabama and made of renewable soy, will be available in different stores throughout the area, including Painted Shovel Mercantile, aptly located in Avondale. “It makes sense that Tim have a homecoming here, with his 18 neighborhood inspired candles represented at Painted Shovel Mercantile,” says CEO Julie Nelson. “We think this very special product line symbolizes his love and admiration of community. We’re so pleased he’s chosen Painted Shovel as Avondale’s exclusive retailer of his beautifully crafted candles, which we know our customers will enjoy, both personally and as gifts to friends, family, and of course, to neighbors.”

They will also be available at Mia Moda Boutique in Vestavia Hills and Full Circle, located on Clairmont Avenue. “This candle line is a great fit for Mia Moda Boutique because we love to support local vendors,” says Julie Cox, co-owner. “I have worked with Tim before, and I know that he believes in quality. We also share our philosophies about giving superior customer service, so I know Tim will go above and beyond for us, as we do for our customers.”

For Burt, the candles are a tribute to the city that he has come to know and love. They’re about recognizing that each corner of her is different and deserves its own story—and scent.

3 Responses to “Scents and the City”

  1. Barbara Goodwillie says:


    Coming to see you in Savannah. I am a friend of Heather’s. Can’t wait to see the new line and meet you.


  2. Sonya Bumpers says:

    As you know I purchased my first South Side weeks ago, now I’m ready for another. I’m most excited to tell you I helped a friend select one as a gift for her mother – in law. I love the gift you have given to the world my friend.


  3. Love the website– very user pleasant and whole lots to see!

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