Women’s History Month, Spotlighting Samford alumni

By RACHAEL HEADLEY, Features Editor

Carrie RollawagenEveryone discovers their passion differently and for Carrie Rollwagen, it was through a blogging project.

While working in an independent bookstore, Rollwagen thought it would be an interesting experiment to shop only locally for a year and write about it in her blog, “Shop Small.”

“I thought it would be an interesting thing to read about because I thought it would be really hard and frustrating,” Rollwagen said.

After finding that she was not spending more money or time shopping only locally, she needed to change her angle. No longer was it about how difficult it is to shop locally, but how easy it was to invest back into the community.

“Really, it’s about being connected to your money,” Rollwagen said. “Realizing that this matters, it’s not just a drop in the bucket.”

As a result of her blog and its popularity, Rollwagen decided to write a book.

“I thought it would be easy, cutting and pasting everything from my blog,” Rollwagen said. “It wasn’t. I basically did that, read it and it didn’t read very well. I ended up having to rewrite it.”

On Nov. 29, Rollwagen’s new book, “The Localist,” hit independent book store shelves all over the country.

Currently, Rollwagen is preparing for a train tour that begins March 6 and lasts until April 14. During this time, she will take Amtrak’s Crescent line from Birmingham to New Orleans and ride it all the way to New York City. She will be stopping at bookstores, local shops and farmer’s markets to sign books and speak about her book. A few of the cities Rollwagen will be visiting include Atlanta, Asheville, Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia.

Rollwagen will be stopping in Birmingham again on March 11 and is holding an event at Carrigan’s Public House at 7 p.m. The event, in honor of her birthday and promoting her book, is a local-themed concert featuring War Jacket with small business vendors present. It is free and open to the public.

Rollwagen graduated from Samford’s journalism and mass communication program in 2001 and worked at the Birmingham Post-Herald. After leaving the Post-Herald, Rollwagen worked part-time at Starbucks while pursuing more freelance work. This is where she met Cal Morris, her manager at the time. Morris also attended Samford University and graduated in 1999 with a degree in congregational studies.

Soon, she took a new job at Southern Progress, but kept in touch with Morris.

Four years ago, she received a call from Morris. He told her that Starbucks was going to close the location, and he wanted to open a bookstore and coffee shop there with her help.

“He said, ‘I know coffee and you know books,’” Rollwagen said.

After the official closing, Rollwagen and Morris got to work transforming it into what is now Church Street Coffee and Books. A short six months later, their new store was open.

Rollwagen and Morris are preparing to celebrate the store’s fourth anniversary on July 5.

“Be nice to people [to be successful],” Rollwagen said. “Consistently do work that you believe in. Birmingham is a great place to do it.”

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