Terri Dunn, owner of Shoe Gallery, and her husband, Dr. Jimmy Dunn at the entrance to the new location of Shoe Gallery II on Marion Street.
It has been a dream of Terri Dunn’s to have her charming boutique shoe store be located on the Courthouse Square. For much longer than anyone anticipated, the storefront located at 109 S. Marion Street in Athens has been undergoing painstaking renovation, and the effort, while quite intense, is going to be fully worth it.
Wayne Kuykendall, the owner of the building and the visionary behind its renovation, has paid scrupulous attention to every detail of the project, and many times when I have been doing Saturday deliveries of Athens Now I have seen him “knee deep” in the work. For those who know Wayne, who is a lifelong resident of Athens, it is no surprise that he knows so much about the building and is totally committed to its restoration. He told me a bit of its history. It has been everything from an alley way to a restaurant to a sewing store. The reason it is so long and narrow is that it originally was the space between two buildings, but the “shotgun” shape is perfect for a boutique. The rough brick walls give a warm, homey feel, and the unusually high ceilings give the place a sense of space and light. The tile work at the threshold is accurate to the period, as well as the overhead lighting and the opaque tile work that makes up the transom. The original floors were too far gone to use, but Wayne found some old ones from another building, had them refinished, and they are beautiful. Only a few details remain on the “punch list,” as well as the final inspection, and then the process of moving from the current store, located at 1207 East Forrest Street, Suite G, can begin.
Before that can happen, however, Terri and her husband, Dr. Jimmy Dunn are going to be counselors at church camp, something they have done for years since their own kids were small. Once the move to the new location begins, there will be an “everythingmust- go” moving sale and both stores will be open for business until the transition is completed. Lots of work, to be sure, and the results will be wonderful, both for shoe lovers as well as people interested in the revitalization and restoration of the Courthouse Square.
So, whether you shop at the current location, or wait until the new one opens, what can you expect to find at the Shoe Gallery? For openers, service extraordinaire from Terri and her team. I have always been treated like a queen, as has anyone I have sent there to shop. Once I purchased a pair of shoes that turned out to be defective. Not only did I get my money cheerfully refunded, but Terri took my shoes to the market and spoke with the representative to make sure the problem with the shoe’s construction was remedied.
As far as actual shoes are concerned, Shoe Gallery carries such well known lines as Clark’s, Merrell, Vaneli, Pierre Dumas, (one of my favorites,) Nicole, and Jambu, an “eco-shoe” whose sales line is “be you with Jambu.” There are sandals, dressy evening shoes, boots, comfy-butnot- dumpy, and the new ultra light running shoes that are “all the rage.” When Terri can get great deals, she passes on the savings to the customers, and I personally have loved a pair of Nicole black patent leather flats that in New York go for $300, but are much less at Shoe Gallery.
Lovely, elegant, practical, and kicky purses are available, with a new line called Papaya being one of Terri’s current favorites. There are also some lovely scarves. The store also specializes in custom jewelry, including bracelets, earrings and necklaces. One line, called Priti, is made by a woman named Michele Smith who lives near Birmingham. Michele is very selective regarding her choice of stones, and she uses components from estate sales and other venues to craft her unique creations. She will do custom work, and if, for example, you purchase a necklace that is not quite the right length, she will adjust it for you. Shoe Gallery carries invitations, watches, umbrellas, note cards, stationery, journals and planners. One other service that Terri offers is ordering items for a customer from one of her many catalogues. No one can stock everything, so she is happy to show customers what’s available and get it for them.
I do believe the new location of Shoe Gallery II will prove to be one of the most beautiful shops on the Square, and thank Wayne, Terri and Jimmy for having a vision and then seeing it through. Can’t wait til the Grand Opening!
by Ali Elizabeth Turner