It’s been a long time coming, but the new Conecuh Sausage gift shop is now open at I-65 Exit 96 in Evergreen. Not only is it a convenient place for travelers to stop, offering clean bathrooms and sausage dogs to go, but it’s also a destination for anyone who loves the taste of the iconic sausage (pronounced Cun-NECK-uh) that has been a beloved Alabama tradition since 1947.
RELATED: Conecuh Sausage is so popular, it has its own fan club.
The 7,000-square-foot gift shop had a soft opening in August, but the company plans to have a grand opening sometime around the end of October. The former gift shop carried many of the same items, but they were squeezed into 800 square feet of space.
“It’s quite a big difference,” says John Sessions, the grandson of the company’s founder.
The gift shop is designed like a lodge, with a wide, wraparound porch and round tables with swiveling Adirondack chairs. Giant gas lamps flank the front doors. “We wanted it to look outdoorsy,” Sessions says.
Inside, there’s a huge assortment of T-shirts and other souvenirs, but you can also find Big Green Egg grills and refrigerated cases displaying all the various meats made by Conecuh Sausage. “We try to be a one-stop shop for people going to the beach,” Sessions says.
While you’re there, be sure to pick up a copy of Conecuh Sausage’s family recipes, which includes everything from red beans and rice to shrimp-and-sausage skewers to jambalaya and gumbo.
And while the gift shop is open and fully operational, there’s more to come before the grand opening, including additional items like soap and spices in the gift shop, benches and an awning in the dog park (yes, there’s a fenced-in area for the pups!) and a life-size pig in the parking lot that will serve as the backdrop for photo ops.
Sessions is proud of the new building and its accessibility to interstate traffic. “If not for people in Alabama, we wouldn’t be where we’re at,” says Sessions.
Here are nine things you won’t want to miss when you visit:
1. Sausage dogs with toppings. In one corner of the store, customers can make their own sausage dogs (choose from three types of Conecuh sausage) or a traditional hot dog made with Conecuh’s own Little Chief premium franks. Toppings include sauerkraut, onions, sweet relish, chopped tomatoes, pickled jalapenos and even cheese sauce and chili. Grab a bag of chips and a drink, and you’ve got an inexpensive and delicious meal.
2. The porch. The wide and well-appointed porch is the perfect place to sit and eat lunch, dinner or a snack to break up your trip. Ceiling fans and poly outdoor furniture by Kanyon make it a comfy spot to watch people come and go.
3. Conecuh swag. Who can resist a colorful Conecuh Sausage T-shirt, hoodie or hat? You’ll find all this and more, in a variety of sizes, on a display wall. There are also sturdy Sarge tumblers, key chains and other items to help you show off your love of Conecuh. You probably need a Conecuh apron for when you grill your sausage at home.
4. Syrups. Exclusive to the gift shop, Conecuh offers an extensive line of syrups – including some that are sugar-free or no-sugar-added – plus pancake mix.
5. Seafood boil. Conecuh sausage isn’t just for breakfast. It’s the perfect accompaniment to, say, shrimp and crawfish – which is why the company offers its own seafood boil spice mix. The only other place you’ll find it is in some grocery stores in Mobile.
6. Insulated bags and ice chests. You’re going to need a way to take home your purchases. After all, the Cracked Black Pepper sausage is hard to find, and you can buy a case of it, or any of the other five Conecuh sausage flavors, here.
7. Smoked turkeys and hams. While sausage is their specialty, Conecuh also offers smoked turkeys and hams, franks, bacon and even pork chops and bone-in ribeye steaks for you to take home.
8. The dog park. If your dogs are traveling with you, you’ll be happy to know that there’s now a fenced-in area overlooking a scenic pond where they can run around and burn off some energy. Bags are also provided so you can help keep this area clean and neat.
9. And finally, check out the sparkling restrooms. You can’t help being impressed with the gift shop’s bright, shiny restrooms. “We wanted to have the cleanest bathrooms on I-65,” Sessions says.
The gift shop is open Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., closed on Sunday. Masks are required for entrance. For more information, call (800) 726-0507.