In two weeks, the old building that possibly predates the founding of the city it’s located in will turn another chapter in its long history, as the Country Store of Seven Springs closes after 15 years. The store at 4455 Marietta St. is having a 50 percent off sale until it closes July 31.
The Country Store of Seven Springs sells country-style home décor in the form of antiques and reproductions. The white clapboard landmark that houses the store is most recognizable by its large Coca-Cola mural on the side of the building.
Despite the steady stream of tears and hugs from longtime customers since their announcement, co-owners Gloria Hilderbrand and Diane Reese believe it’s time for them to move on to new chapters in their own lives. Hilderbrand will retire and Reese plans to work full-time as a clothing store manager at her second job.
“I’m just burnt out,” said Hilderbrand, 73. “I’m getting too old to do this.”
Hilderbrand has been in the antique business for 45 years. She met Reese about 20 years ago at a group shop on Macland Road, at which several retailers rented space.
“Candles have been the bread and butter of the store,” said Reese, 59.
Tiny electric candle light bulbs, priced at two for $5.95, are considered the store’s most popular item. “That’s basically kept us in business recently,” said Hilderbrand.
She and Reese acknowledged that business, or the lack there of, was a factor in their decision to close shop. “We have nothing in here that you can’t live without,” Hilderbrand said. “The economy of course has hurt everybody.”
Over the years, the two women hosted an annual Christmas open house that often drew 60 people who waited outdoors to get inside the store. In celebration of the store’s annual fall sale, customers dressed in Halloween costumes for its “Witches Night Out” party. And on one Saturday every March, customers arrived at the store as early as 6 a.m. in their pajamas for an annual party.
“We like to have parties here,” Hilderbrand said with a chuckle.
The gathering of people in the small community will be missed the most, Reese said.
“I think what you always miss with a store like this is the people,” Hilderbrand said. “They’ll come in, sit and talk. Some of the little tots that used to come in are now coming in and bringing their babies to show us.”
Throughout the years, the two grandmothers got to know a lot about the Powder Springs area and its people. The store’s mailing list contains 1,500 recipients.
“I will definitely miss them,” said Beth Vanderpool of Dallas, as she shopped Saturday along the store’s pine floors. “I have a lot of their items in my home.”
Vanderpool has been a loyal customer since Reese and Hilderbrand first opened the Country House of Seven Springs up the street. A year later in April 1997, the house burned and they moved into the country store. It had many owners over the years and was in need of repairs and improvements.
When they completed their work, they wanted to honor the old store — whose origins they date back to 1830 — for its place in history. It took years of research and hard work, but they succeeded several years ago in getting it listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
“The structure itself tells us so much about the history of our town, going back to the early days when Powder Springs was quite the destination for those seeking the medicinal benefits of the springs,” said resident Lauretta Hannon, author of “The Cracker Queen” and a book on Powder Springs.
According to the National Register, the first official mention of the store was in the 1879 Georgia State Gazetteer when it was known as the John C. Butner and Son General Store, which among other things bought cotton and sold fertilizers.
In 1935, C.M. McTyre and J.B. McTyre purchased the building and ran it until C.M.’s death in 1968. Thirty years and several owners later, Hilderbrand and Reese bought the store, and after many attempts, convinced the Coca-Cola Company to repaint a faded advertisement mural on the side of the building.
The oldest portion of the building is the rear section, which once housed a livery stable, blacksmith shop and cotton warehouse during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The main store portion, facing Marietta Street, dates back to the early 1880s. Connecting both sections is an enclosed breezeway.
“The Butner-McTyre General Store is a rare surviving example of a late 19th century wooden general store,” the National Register said in a statement of significance.
“General stores were once ubiquitous throughout Georgia’s small towns and rural areas as places to buy, sell and trade goods. There are few remaining examples of general stores left in the state, and surviving wood-frame stores are very rare. It is also rare for a wood general store to remain intact in the highly developed metro Atlanta suburbs.”
Fortunately, the old building will continue to survive under a new owner, Tracy Morgan.
Presently, Morgan owns Kiwiquilts, where she sells fabrics and teaches quilting classes, at the corner of Florence Road and Highway 278 in Powder Springs. In October, she plans to open a quilt shop at the country store location.
“4455 Marietta St. is a great location, allowing me to expand my business in a building full of historic and creative ambiance, as well as being the home of the Southern Quilt Trail,” said Morgan. “It is just a really cool place to have a quilt shop.”