Jul 25, 2014

35 Years For The 17 Steps

The family-owned stationery and gift store celebrates an anniversary.

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Behind the counter of The 17 Steps sits a reminder of the stationery and gift store's origins 35 years ago.

Three wooden steps display baskets of merchandise. They are part of the namesake 17 steps that led to the first incarnation of the store.

Manager Julie Cobb said the The 17 Steps has occupied five locations over 35 years, all within several blocks of the .

But customers keep coming back because of The 17 Steps' personalized service, which includes complimentary gift wrapping. The customers will also get a discount as the store marks its 35th anniversary.

Cobb said Patsy Thomas of Decatur started the store in October 1976 in the basement of the Trust Building off the Square.

The location was a problem for customers, so she moved to 121 Sycamore St., where Smith's Shoes operated. Now the restaurant occupies that space.

Thomas's daughter, Karna Thomas Candler, and friend Karen Shinall took over the business until fall 1981, when the Cobb family purchased the store.

Mother Brenda Cobb and daughters Julie Cobb and Susan Fleischman took over. Julie Cobb said that today she's the only full-time employee.

The Cobbs moved the business in 1987 to 112 East Ponce de Leon Ave., near Mick's restaurant. restaurant now takes the space of the old Mick's.

In 1995, the Cobbs moved The 17 Steps to 205 E. Ponce de Leon Ave., currently the location of the restaurant.

Parking was a problem, Cobb said, so he family moved in fall 1999 to the current location at 235 Ponce de Leon Place, near the pharmacy.

The store sells cards, calendars, bags, shirts, Crabtree & Evelyn products and Decatur-oriented mechandise such as mugs and T-shirts. Hoidays are big for The 17 Steps, which now displays plenty of Halloween merchandise.

Cobb said The 17 Steps' customers are loyal -- and traditional. They don't like trendy things, she said.

For instance, for the store's 30th anniversary, the store commissioned a throw bearing iconic Decatur images like the old courthouse and .

Even today, it's still a very popular item at The 17 Steps.





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