By Anna Grace Moore 

Photos by Kelsea Schafer

Crestline Village is one of Mountain Brook’s staple communities. The quaint, family-owned shops line the streets, providing customers a plethora of Southern hospitality within every door they enter.

Customers have easy, walkable access to amenities such as the Mountain Brook Police and Fire Departments, the O’Neal Library and the Mountain Brook Chamber of Commerce, as well as many local restaurants such as Porch and Otey’s Tavern that fill up with patrons every weekend.

Life moves more slowly here. People don’t rush; they peruse through the streets, taking their time and taking in the beautiful brick and mortar scenery that is Crestline Village.

One such business, Town and Country Clothes, has a story that predates the end of WWII back in 1943. The founder, Margaret Bowron, first developed the company out of a house in Crestline. She sold women’s clothing, jewelry and more in the laid-back atmosphere of the home.

If women were going to shop for laid-back, comfortable clothes, the space where they shop should reflect this mood, too, current owner Laurel Bassett says. Even when Margaret relocated the business to its current spot on Church Street, the calming atmosphere the staff creates for the customers never changes.

“It’s a great place to be,” Laurel says. “The villages are very unique and walkable. I like being able to visit the other small stores in the village. I can’t imagine being anywhere else.”

Laurel first started working for Town and Country Clothes when she was 17 years old. As a student at Mountain Brook High School, Laurel would co-op, getting off early in the afternoons to go to work.

She continued working for the business when she graduated and pursued her art education and painting degree from Birmingham Southern College, where she met her husband. Some of the staff have been at Town and Country long enough to see Laurel graduate from high school and college, get married and have her two children.

One employee, Marsha Meadows, has worked for Town and Country Clothes for 30 years, and to this day, still loves what she does.

“It’s just nice that everybody gets along,” Laurel says. “Everyone looks forward to coming to work. Nobody really works here because they have to. They work here because they want to. It’s great to have a small business where I can bring in my daughters and everyone is super nice to them. One of them said, ‘Mom, why is there no stranger danger here?’”

While Town and Country maintains close-knit relationships between the staff members, they also know every repeat customer’s name by heart. Sylvia Goldberg, a long-time customer and friend, purchases gift certificates for all of her friends and always brings gifts for Laurel’s daughters whenever she stops by.

“Even though I think all of the small businesses in the area have much better customer service than generally some larger stores do, I would say ours still sets us apart because we really prioritize having such personal relationships with customers,” Laurel says. “Since our employees value those relationships, they’re very focused on helping people really find the best outfits for them.”

Laurel says some customers will learn Marsha’s schedule, making sure to shop when she will be in store. It’s these kinds of relationships, she says, that have helped the business thrive over the last 80 years.

On Thursday, March 2, the Mountain Brook Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon-cutting ceremony, commemorating Town and Country’s 80th anniversary. Laurel says it was the chamber’s most well-attended ribbon-cutting ceremony to date.

Hundreds came out to shop, and even more wished us well in person and online, Laurel says. This support from the community is amazing, she says, and even more so when she’s allowed to create in a fun environment.

Laurel has since utilized her background in art to make jewelry from precious metals and also dyed fabrics to make blouses and scarves to sell in store. She studied under local artist Toni Tully for several years before branching out and incorporating her own art business into Town and Country’s apparel line.

Laurel also took a six-hour metal smithing course at Studio by the Tracks. The rest of her talent, she says, is self-taught.

“It’s nice to be able to make custom pieces that work into our product mix,” Laurel says. “I really like putting my art on other people and having them wear it as a form of their self expression. It’s nice to find one-of-a-kind pieces a good home.”

Even Laurel’s husband and daughters have scratched their creative itch, trying their own hands at creating custom, wearable garments.

“I’m most proud of these cuffs,” Laurel says, pointing to her jewelry. “I mainly just played around with it on my own. I started making some bead and wire bracelets and selling them through the store in college. That’s when the previous owners let me go to Market with them because they felt like I had an eye for it.”

Laurel’s eye for eclectic design and her work ethic helped her become a managing partner in 2007 and two years later, Laurel assumed full ownership of the business, having worked there 12 years.

A decade later, Laurel and her husband still love to go to Market, especially in New York to find the small vendors that often have one-of-a-kind products.

“With the increase of market costs in New York, some of the smaller vendors we’ve seen in the past haven’t been able to go post-pandemic,” Laurel says. “There’s one that has a store in Laguna Beach, so we made a trip there for spring break and got to pick out all of these one-of-a-kind pieces.”

This dedication to finding only the best of the best products is one reason customers continue to shop at Town and Country, Laurel says.

“Our focus is really on clothes women are going to want to wear everyday,” Laurel says. “We do have some special occasion clothes, but Renuar and Habitat in particular make clothes that people want to wear over and over. Easy fit, east-to-care-for fabrics, pretty colors. In recent years, I feel like we in the South got back out there more quickly. [Our vendors] have been good at listening to our customers’ needs.”

Laurel doesn’t just appeal to her customers. She has also expanded Town and Country’s impact by partnering with nonprofit organizations such as the Assistance League of Birmingham and the Arc of Central Alabama in their annual fashion shows.

This summer, the Arc of Central Alabama held its annual fashion show at the Renaissance Ross Bridge Hotel and Spa in Hoover, Alabama, and Laurel dressed a model and provided the commentary for the show. She helped raise money and awareness about the Arc’s programs.

Laurel says she looks forward to these events because they showcase some of the brightest young professionals in the community, looking to make their mark on the world.

With as supportive of customers as Town and Country has had over the years, Laurel says she feels grateful to use her business to invest in the lives of others, too. Thank you, she says, to everyone who has made this milestone of 80 years become a reality.

Town and Country Clothes is located at  74 Church Street. It is open Monday-Friday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. and on Saturday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Customers can visit