Staff Photo: Keith Farner
Owner Patsy Odum talks on the phone while employee Barb Redmond, left, talks with co-workers. The Parsons family business, which since 1925 has owned a general store, hardware store and gift and accessories store, is moving from Duluth to Suwanee by Aug. 1.
DULUTH -- A third-generation family business that opened in 1925 and became an institution in Duluth is moving to Suwanee.
Parsons Gift Shop will move from its location in Duluth Station at 2780 Buford Highway by Aug. 1 because the building's landlord sold it to a Presbyterian church from Norcross that is moving in. The store, which sells gifts, cards and ladies accessories, will move to 1500 Peachtree Industrial Blvd, about five minutes from its current location, owner Patsy Odum said.
Customer response has been "overwhelmingly positive" to the news, Odum said, and the Suwanee location is expected to open on Aug 1.
"People seem to be happy for us because they realize it's an opportunity to stay in business," she said. "Otherwise, we probably wouldn't be staying in business."
The family business, which was started by Calvin and Kate Parsons, has been a general store and hardware store. Odum's mother-in-law is Ann Parsons Odum, one of three Parsons daughters. The family opened the gift part of the business about 15 years ago, Odum said.
The original general store was in downtown Duluth, and the business also was at a location at Peachtree Industrial Boulevard and Pleasant Hill Road as a Hallmark gift store.
Parsons' customer base includes Duluth, Suwanee, Lawrenceville, Buford and Johns Creek, and Odum said she and her husband Carey wanted the new location to be within that market.
"There were a lot of places, but some places weren't ready, they'll be ready next spring, or if they're sitting empty, there's a reason they're sitting empty," Odum said. "We looked around a lot, and that was the best place that was closest to our already existing market."
The Suwanee location is expected to be very similar to the Duluth store. It will be about 4,000 square feet and the only difference is less storage space than the Duluth location, which has more than 5,000 square feet, Odum said.
While the move will take the Odums away from their roots in Duluth, where they live, attend church and their kids went to school, Odum said she hopes it gives the business a boost.
The closing of the hardware store coincided with the start of the economic downturn, which was challenging, Odum said.
"The hardware store has been gone for four years, so we're sitting down here in an empty shopping center; it's been hard," she said.