The beloved collectibles store What’s on 2nd has been an unmissable stop for Alabama treasure hunters for nearly two decades. When you walk through the door, you’re immediately enchanted by an eclectic array of vintage trinkets, toys, vinyl albums, postcards, and virtually every odd-and-end imaginable.
The shop was owned and operated by collector Steve Gilmer, who sadly passed away at the end of November. Gilmer is remembered by friends and loved ones as a beacon of light to the Birmingham community, and someone who could always connect with locals and visitors alike as he shared stories from Birmingham’s past and present.
Tributes have continuously poured in after the announcement of his passing, with many remembering their own unique adventures in What’s on 2nd and how Gilmer would share his knowledge with humility and kindness. While antiques were his area of expertise, connecting these relics with Birmingham history was his true passion, and Gilmer had an unmistakable way of sharing these insights with every person who walked into his store.
Among these tributes are stories from those who knew Gilmer beyond the shop itself. Laurence Boitet, a former neighbor of Gilmer’s, remembers how he radiated kindness in all facets of his life. “He was such a gift to us,” she recalls. “He always left nicknacks in our garden, coached us through many life events, and was always there when we needed help or support. We love Steve so much.”
Having touched so many lives, many are wondering what is next for Gilmer’s beloved shop. What’s on 2nd has already undergone several moves in its history, most recently having relocated to Five Points South in January of 2021. “If I’d known I was going to move this many times, I probably would have named the shop something else,” Gilmer once joked in an interview about the move. With Gilmer’s passing, the future plans for the store are currently unknown. Fortunately, close friend Alfred Smith is taking over the store until the end of the year.
With the future of the well-loved Birmingham institution uncertain, don’t miss a chance to visit in the next few weeks and browse the store’s magic for yourself. What’s on 2nd is located at 1101 20th Street South in Five Points, and is currently open daily from 10 am-6 pm. You are sure to find a unique Birmingham treasure as well as take home “a piece of Steve’s legacy,” as close friend Walton Creel recently stated in one of the many online tributes.
And to Steve Gilmer–the true Birmingham treasure–you will be missed.