That’s how long the gift shop Southern Traditions has been in business at the same location on Mikel Street.
“My mother had a Southern Traditions in Cookeville,” said Debby Woodard, owner of the Cleveland store. Four years before retiring from teaching at the Cleveland City Schools in 2001, Woodard started her own Southern Traditions after her mom closed the doors of her shop. Currently, there are only three Southern Traditions stores in the entire state of Tennessee — and one of them is in Cleveland.
One of Southern Traditions special features is its Bridal Registry because the shop places orders — sometimes daily — or whenever a bride registers. Brides don’t have to wait until stores order on their regular schedule; they can get their items in stock right away.
“When a bride registers, we order her items immediately and keep them in stock,” Woodard said. In addition, Southern Traditions updates the bride’s list daily to avoid duplication and the staff stays in touch with her — especially after an event or shower, which the staff has listed on the bride’s registration card — to update her list.
Her staff includes seven ladies who work at the shop, including Woodard, Molly Norton, her daughter, and longtime employee Edie Feehrer, manager.
“We provide personalized service,” Woodard said.
Woodard learned how to make her shop and programs unique through her mom and the years she spent working with her mom, Jerry Hill.
“I went on buying trips for 10 years,” Woodard said, “and still occasionally run something by her.”
And, over the years, Woodward has been successful enough to have expanded her shop twice — adding to her initial floor central core floor space on either side, tripling its size.
“Because we had that much more business,” she said.
The main reason for the shop’s success is because it carries much-desired, in addition to exclusive, merchandise.
For example, Southern Traditions is the only place in Cleveland to find Vera Bradley items — from handbags to notepads and agendas, from luggage to travel items — all in the recognizable Vera Bradley style. New styles arrive four times a year.
Southern Traditions also is the only place in this area to find Pandora Beads, Woodard said.
“Pandora is individualized and personalized jewelry,” Woodard said. Customers can create their own uniquely designed jewelry with beads, charms, gold, silver and stones, including birthstones. Start with just a bracelet and one bead. Then, give a catalog of other charms along with the gift and she can pick out the charms she’d like as future gifts herself. “It’s the perfect gift for those hard to shop for.”
Another uniquely Southern Traditions item is the Vietri line of Italian pottery.
Southern Traditions gift shop is also a key dealer for the Mariposa line of high-end serve line, including serving trays, picture frames, pitchers, candle holders, napkin boxes and weights, sand-cast metal ware, butter spreaders, and the like.
Elias picture frames, featured in pewter and gold, are another unique and highly sought after items available at Southern Traditions.
“They’re heirlooms,” Woodard said. And they come with a lifetime guarantee. “You don’t ever replace them.”
And free gift wrapping is available all the time.
Southern Traditions also has a Baby Registry for those expecting. Prestigious lines carried include Bailey Boys, Kissy Kissy, and Royal Child.
“They’re very popular,” Woodard said. Lines include everything you’d need for a newborn or toddler, from layette sets, gowns, sleepware to engraved on non-rusting pewter items, such as cups, rattles, teething rings and porringers. All can be engraved.
But Southern Traditions will go a step further. Customers have asked Woodard for particular items, and she has found them and stocked them in her store.
“I’ve even opened an entire line of China so a bride could get her special pattern,” Woodard said. “We try to offer unique items that aren’t in department stores or the box stores.”