Nestled in the heart of Notasulga, Alabama, liesÂ a village of unique mini homes, all snuggledÂ together in the woods. This is Paradise TinyÂ Village, the brainchild of Annie Jones and herÂ daughters, Quaneisha Jones and Gentry Purnell.
This year, Paradise Tiny Village will host a Christmas eventÂ on Dec.11. However, this isnâ€™t your typical candy canes andÂ gumdrops event. No, itâ€™s a Murder Mystery event.
Since early 2021, Paradise Tiny Village has been in theÂ works, with some of its first events being held this pastÂ summer. Annieâ€™s background in real estate helped the familyÂ secure a spot for their venue right between two AlabamaÂ colleges.
Gentry, a physical therapist, wanted to own a business thatÂ would allow her to stay at home with her children, includingÂ her youngest daughter, Gia, who has special needs, whileÂ also allowing her to be able to still be â€œactive and in theÂ community.â€
â€œWe wanted to have more family time and we also needed toÂ be able to continue to provide for our families,â€ Gentry said.Â â€œWe started this to just come closer together and just be ableÂ to leave generational wealth for our families and to be able toÂ spend more time with ourÂ family.
â€œIt was crazy [starting aÂ business] â€¦ The good thingÂ about our business is we canÂ block out days when we donâ€™tÂ want to work, and we canÂ open up when we want to.Â So, we do a lot of work but atÂ least we can have time off ifÂ we wanted it.â€
Annie expressed that whileÂ many might be worried toÂ go into business with family,Â she was not anxious in theÂ slightest.
â€œI raised my children to theÂ best of my ability,â€ she said.Â â€œI wasnâ€™t worried about thatÂ at all. I was just concernedÂ about â€¦ buildingÂ up beautiful familiesÂ together.â€
The grand opening forÂ the business in FebruaryÂ 2021 opened the groundsÂ for the public to see theÂ work the family hadÂ done. However, right asÂ the business was revvingÂ up, Annieâ€™s daughter,Â Quaneisha, passed away inÂ a car accident in March.
â€œRight after [theÂ opening] she passed, so itÂ was bittersweet,â€ GentryÂ said. â€œWe had a lot ofÂ people messaging us,Â emailing us, supportingÂ us and we just had a lot ofÂ business instantly. [But]Â I was just talking to myÂ mom about it â€” that theÂ date [she died] we still hadÂ guests, so â€¦ the day of her funeral, we had to go andÂ clean the rooms and get ready for the guests.â€
Gentry said that theÂ season of grief in their lifeÂ was â€œa hard process to getÂ through.â€ Nevertheless,Â both Gentry and Annie feelÂ as though Paradise TinyÂ Village is balm for theirÂ wounds and has helped theÂ family cope with Quaneishaâ€™sÂ passing.
â€œWe feel her presenceÂ there,â€ Gentry said. â€œTheÂ guests have also said the sameÂ thing; Everyone that comesÂ out is just like, â€˜Wow I justÂ feel a peaceful presence, likeÂ a good spirit.â€™â€
Gentry said theseÂ are qualities her sisterÂ undoubtedly possessed. OnÂ May 20, 2021, ParadiseÂ Tiny Village paid homageÂ to Quaneisha on her â€œ25thÂ Heavenly Birthday.â€
Today, the family-friendlyÂ space is complete withÂ nine tiny homes, for a totalÂ of 16 beds. Each home isÂ decked out with variousÂ indoor amenities, includingÂ a selection of firm andÂ plush pillows, sleep masks,Â earplugs, hygiene suppliesÂ and a Keurig coffee maker,Â complete with pods, creamerÂ and sweetener.
Every house has a differentÂ theme, each modeled after aÂ theme. The surrounding areaÂ is complete with hammocks,Â a fire pit and outdoorÂ amenities, including severalÂ outdoor games. The village isÂ surveilled by security camerasÂ surrounding the premises andÂ is a gated community withÂ keypad access for its guests.
â€œOur place is justÂ adaptable,â€ Gentry said. â€œYouÂ can have a lot of fun there,Â but people have also thrownÂ a lot of spiritual retreats.Â Itâ€™s just a place where youÂ can come to have fun or justÂ retreat from the city life â€¦Â connect with nature, as well.â€
Recently, the villageÂ has hosted a wide varietyÂ of groups, from theÂ aforementioned spiritualÂ retreats to Auburn footballÂ fans. In October, the mother-daughterÂ duo hosted their firstÂ Murder Mystery Dinner Party in the spirit of Halloween,Â a Friday through SaturdayÂ experience.
Guests were invited viaÂ advertisements and once theyÂ had paid their dues for theÂ event, they were assigned aÂ house and a character. EachÂ participant had to come notÂ only in costume but in fullÂ character for the entirety ofÂ the weekend. Every meal â€”Â dinner, breakfast and lunchÂ â€” marked a break betweenÂ rounds, with three roundsÂ total.
The rounds consisted ofÂ clues given to the characters,Â so that they could solveÂ different cases. Games wereÂ sprinkled throughout the daysÂ to keep the event exciting.Â As for the co-owners,Â Gentry dressed as Beetlejuice,Â while Annie went as a swampÂ creature.
Gentry said that ParadiseÂ Tiny Village realizes thatÂ â€œadults like to have fun.â€ SheÂ even had several participantsÂ emailing her a month prior,Â asking if they needed to takeÂ off work early to be at theÂ event on time.
On Dec. 11, the village willÂ host its first-ever ChristmasÂ Murder Mystery Event, muchÂ akin to the Halloween versionÂ but with a candy cane spin.
For $200, participants can beÂ a part of a Christmas-themedÂ journey, with a t-shirt, drinks,Â lunch, dinner and overnightÂ accommodations included.Â Eggnog, wine and turkeyÂ will be just a few of theÂ foods offered throughout theÂ evening.
Currently, Gentry plansÂ to go all-out for her holidayÂ costume, masqueradingÂ as Cindy Lou Who, whileÂ Annie is keeping her attire aÂ surprise.
â€œItâ€™s going to be bittersweetÂ for me because it is my firstÂ Christmas without my baby,â€Â Annie said.
Annie added that ChristmasÂ was Quaneishaâ€™s favorite.Â Before her passing, she hadÂ visited a childrenâ€™s homeÂ with her fiancÃ©, dressed asÂ Santa Claus and Mrs. ClausÂ with books and gifts for theÂ children.
Both Annie and GentryÂ agreed that Quaneisha alwaysÂ gave the most thoughtful giftsÂ and could remember whatÂ someone had said they likedÂ months prior.
â€œIâ€™ll be there,â€ Annie said. â€œAnd hopefully sheâ€™ll be there with us.â€
To register for the Christmas event, schedule a future event or for general inquiries, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.Â Annie and Gentry can also be found online at www.paradisetinyvillages.com, or on the Paradise Tiny Village Facebook page.