Nestled in the heart of Notasulga, Alabama, lies a village of unique mini homes, all snuggled together in the woods. This is Paradise Tiny Village, the brainchild of Annie Jones and her daughters, Quaneisha Jones and Gentry Purnell.
This year, Paradise Tiny Village will host a Christmas event on Dec.11. However, this isn’t your typical candy canes and gumdrops event. No, it’s a Murder Mystery event.
Since early 2021, Paradise Tiny Village has been in the works, with some of its first events being held this past summer. Annie’s background in real estate helped the family secure a spot for their venue right between two Alabama colleges.
Gentry, a physical therapist, wanted to own a business that would allow her to stay at home with her children, including her youngest daughter, Gia, who has special needs, while also allowing her to be able to still be “active and in the community.”
“We wanted to have more family time and we also needed to be able to continue to provide for our families,” Gentry said. “We started this to just come closer together and just be able to leave generational wealth for our families and to be able to spend more time with our family.
“It was crazy [starting a business] … The good thing about our business is we can block out days when we don’t want to work, and we can open up when we want to. So, we do a lot of work but at least we can have time off if we wanted it.”
Annie expressed that while many might be worried to go into business with family, she was not anxious in the slightest.
“I raised my children to the best of my ability,” she said. “I wasn’t worried about that at all. I was just concerned about … building up beautiful families together.”
The grand opening for the business in February 2021 opened the grounds for the public to see the work the family had done. However, right as the business was revving up, Annie’s daughter, Quaneisha, passed away in a car accident in March.
“Right after [the opening] she passed, so it was bittersweet,” Gentry said. “We had a lot of people messaging us, emailing us, supporting us and we just had a lot of business instantly. [But] I was just talking to my mom about it — that the date [she died] we still had guests, so … the day of her funeral, we had to go and clean the rooms and get ready for the guests.”
Gentry said that the season of grief in their life was “a hard process to get through.” Nevertheless, both Gentry and Annie feel as though Paradise Tiny Village is balm for their wounds and has helped the family cope with Quaneisha’s passing.
“We feel her presence there,” Gentry said. “The guests have also said the same thing; Everyone that comes out is just like, ‘Wow I just feel a peaceful presence, like a good spirit.’”
Gentry said these are qualities her sister undoubtedly possessed. On May 20, 2021, Paradise Tiny Village paid homage to Quaneisha on her “25th Heavenly Birthday.”
Today, the family-friendly space is complete with nine tiny homes, for a total of 16 beds. Each home is decked out with various indoor amenities, including a selection of firm and plush pillows, sleep masks, earplugs, hygiene supplies and a Keurig coffee maker, complete with pods, creamer and sweetener.
Every house has a different theme, each modeled after a theme. The surrounding area is complete with hammocks, a fire pit and outdoor amenities, including several outdoor games. The village is surveilled by security cameras surrounding the premises and is a gated community with keypad access for its guests.
“Our place is just adaptable,” Gentry said. “You can have a lot of fun there, but people have also thrown a lot of spiritual retreats. It’s just a place where you can come to have fun or just retreat from the city life … connect with nature, as well.”
Recently, the village has hosted a wide variety of groups, from the aforementioned spiritual retreats to Auburn football fans. In October, the mother-daughter duo hosted their first Murder Mystery Dinner Party in the spirit of Halloween, a Friday through Saturday experience.
Guests were invited via advertisements and once they had paid their dues for the event, they were assigned a house and a character. Each participant had to come not only in costume but in full character for the entirety of the weekend. Every meal — dinner, breakfast and lunch — marked a break between rounds, with three rounds total.
The rounds consisted of clues given to the characters, so that they could solve different cases. Games were sprinkled throughout the days to keep the event exciting. As for the co-owners, Gentry dressed as Beetlejuice, while Annie went as a swamp creature.
Gentry said that Paradise Tiny Village realizes that “adults like to have fun.” She even had several participants emailing her a month prior, asking if they needed to take off work early to be at the event on time.
On Dec. 11, the village will host its first-ever Christmas Murder Mystery Event, much akin to the Halloween version but with a candy cane spin.
For $200, participants can be a part of a Christmas-themed journey, with a t-shirt, drinks, lunch, dinner and overnight accommodations included. Eggnog, wine and turkey will be just a few of the foods offered throughout the evening.
Currently, Gentry plans to go all-out for her holiday costume, masquerading as Cindy Lou Who, while Annie is keeping her attire a surprise.
“It’s going to be bittersweet for me because it is my first Christmas without my baby,” Annie said.
Annie added that Christmas was Quaneisha’s favorite. Before her passing, she had visited a children’s home with her fiancé, dressed as Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus with books and gifts for the children.
Both Annie and Gentry agreed that Quaneisha always gave the most thoughtful gifts and could remember what someone had said they liked months prior.
“I’ll be there,” Annie said. “And hopefully she’ll be there with us.”
To register for the Christmas event, schedule a future event or for general inquiries, contact email@example.com. Annie and Gentry can also be found online at www.paradisetinyvillages.com, or on the Paradise Tiny Village Facebook page.