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a close up of a sign hanging off the side of a building

By: Marissa Deal

It’s a blink-and-you’ll miss it kind of place, except for the amazing aroma that pours out the door and wafts down Dauphin Street. Pedestrians’ noses lead them to a tiny peanut shop, where nuts are churning in a 100-year-old roaster, placed strategically next the door. This is The A&M Peanut Shop, a constant with locals and visitors to Mobile since 1947. 

The shop originally opened as a chain owned by Planters, but when the company sold off its locations in 1963, then-manager Alfred Gibson jumped at the chance to acquire it. He named it A&M for his wife Mary and himself and it remained a family business when his daughter later took over. Only in the last few years did she retire and sell A&M to a loyal patron who swore to keep it as it always had been.

For well over a half century, the interior has remained unchanged, and that is a part of its charm. Walking through the shop’s doors is like stepping back in time. Glass cases are filled with goodies that can be purchased from kindly staff, who share their recommendations. The beloved spot churns out goodies and snacks from roasted nuts to bonbons, cheese straws to pecan clusters. Grandparents take their grandchildren, just as their parents once took them. Families buy peanuts to feed themselves – and the grateful, chubby squirrels who dart up and down the live oaks in Bienville Square. Groups huddle at the door during Mardi Gras. And office workers duck in seeking warm and salty comfort food on blustery days. 

a display in a store window

The little shop on Dauphin has remained resilient even as downtown Mobile has changed around it. It thrived when Downtown was the retail hub for the city. And it thrived when Downtown fell into a period of decline as shops and restaurants moved into West Mobile. And now with the vibrant rebirth of downtown, a whole new generation follows the scent that whirls around them as they walk down the street. With so many cities losing independent businesses such as the A&M Peanut Shop, Mobile is proud to have retained so many of these historic gems, and Bienville Bites is excited to share a little taste of its magic with tour groups on its LoDa Stroll Tour.