Sixteen year-old S.G. Shaia arrives at Ellis Island from Lebanon, speaking no English. With $10 in his pocket, he makes his way to Nashville, where he begins peddling notions and household goods from a backpack.
SG moves to the Southside of Birmingham with his new wife, Badia, and continues selling his wares throughout Jefferson, Shelby and Walker counties– traveling by foot, train and wagon.
SG buys four lots in what is now downtown Homewood for $500 each. He moves his family out to the “boondocks” and builds his new store and his home right beside it. SG’s garden of figs and grapevines is the location of the present store. Badia runs the store and SG continues peddling with a 100 pound pack on his back until about 1930.
The store caters to the needs of the community, which had no grocery or drugstore, carrying everything from toothpaste to work clothes. In 1939, SG’s son AJ takes over the store, now known as Shaia’s Dry Goods, specializing in apparel for the entire family.
AJ’s sons, JL and Leo, transform Shaia’s into an upscale specialty store- introducing international menswear labels to Birmingham, and taking a chance on many young unknown designers– such as Ralph Lauren, Alexander Julian, Hilton, and Ermenegildo Zegna.
Ken Shaia becomes the fourth generation to join the family business, and continues to introduce new designers such as Gravati, Canali, Luciano Barbera, Isaia, Hiltl/Gardeur, John Varvatos and Boglioli– giving the traditional southern store an international flavor.
MR magazine chooses Shaia's as one of the “25 Most Exciting Menswear Stores in America.” In 2005, Shaia’s wins the first of many “Best of Class: Gold Standard” awards from Esquire magazine, a winning streak that lasted a decade.
Ken launches Shaia Medical Heritage Coats in 2008, bringing the quality of European tailoring to modern physicians' coats. In 2009, the Alabama Retailers Association awards Shaia’s “Retailer of the Year.”
Shaia’s concept shop originally featuring designer Scott James opens. The new shop incorporates the actual rafters of SG’s house– along with the foundation of tradition and excellent service that S.G. Shaia established in 1922.
2014 to present
Shaia's was one of only seven independent stores chosen to participate in Zegna’s Decade trip, with Ken invited to Switzerland and Milan to tour Zegna factories and participate in their Made to Measure Academy. In 2018, Architectural Digest names Shaia's “One of America's 50 Most Beautiful Independent Stores”.