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Holmes stationers and gifts: summits small town stationer is big on style and long on history.

Seventy years ago, Holmes Stationers and Gifts opened its doors in a 700-square-fool space in downtown McComb. Over the years, many other mom-and-pop stores have come and gone, but Holmes Stationers has continued to grow--to its current 8,000 square feet of space, to be exact.

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Now located on well-traveled U.S. Highway 51 between Summit and McComb, Holmes Stationers still exudes the small-town charm and service that generations of Pike County residents know and cherish.

"We're like an old-fashioned department store," says Susan Gibbes, who owns Holmes Stationers with her mother, Delores Feldman. "In a small town, we learned that we must offer a variety. A customer can purchase flash cards for their child, a stapler for their office, and apiece of Annieglass as a wedding gift all in the same stop."

Alma Holmes opened Holmes Stationers in 1941 as a printing business and card shop. At what was believed to have been one of the earliest Hallmark stores in Mississippi, Mr. Hall himself would come to the store and sell cards out of the trunk of his vehicle.

But today the store has offerings far beyond paper. A bridal registry, 3,000 square feet of teaching supplies (the largest selection between Jackson and New Orleans) children's clothes, baby items, home decor, gifts, cooking supplies, and party supplies fill the floor. "But the basis of our store will always be paper," says Gibbes, who has worked in the store since she was around 10 years old.

Walls lined with invitations, stationery, and cards for all occasions ensure paper products can be personalized, printed, and made ready for pickup in a single day. Gibbes even makes up rhymes and poems to customize the printing. "I've come up with a rhyme for a sumo-wrestling senior party around a campfire." she says with a laugh. With a wide selection, personalization, and speedy turnaround time, it's no wonder customers travel or email from Jackson, Hammond, Baton Rouge, and further to purchase their invitations.

Previous owners Helen and James Marshall Reynolds started a small teaching section, but Delores and David Feldman, both former educators at South Pike School District, have expanded the offerings tremendously. An in-shop open house for teachers kicks off the school year each August. This August marked the 25th anniversary of the tradition with more than 300 teachers in attendance.

Ten years ago, Gibbes started the bridal registry and now carries high-end lines like Pickard, Rosenthal, Annieglass, Vera Wang, Casa Fina, Juliska, and Vietri. "We usually have 20-plus brides registered at one time," says Gibbes.

During the Christmas season, Le Creuset cookware is a big seller for both men and women. "It comes in about 12 colors," explains Gibbes. "Some of our customers try to collect a piece in every color." Jewelry, purses, pajamas, toys, children's clothes, and many other items ensure a busy Christmas season for the store as well.

But even with so many offerings to tempt shoppers, Gibbes believes that service and a family atmosphere are what continue to draw customers through the doors. "We still do charge accounts and will run packages out to the car for moms with sleeping babies in car seats," says Gibbes. "We are definitely a family deal. Mom is in the store everyday. We share a partners' desk." Gibbes' husband and father both work in the building as well, involved with running their own businesses.

Though Gibbes, who holds an MBA from Millsaps, had job offers from around the country, she always knew she would return to the family business. Now her two young sons, ages 2 and 5, are already following in her footsteps. "They are shop babies," says Gibbes with pride. "I bring them to the store and get to watch them play while I have a wonderful nanny work with them. It's the best way to be a working mom."

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by mary ellen stancil | photography by beth hemeter

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

1136 US Hwy. 51-98, Summit 601.276.2700, www.holmesstationers.com

Hours: Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
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Title Annotation:noteworthy
Author:Stancil, Mary Ellen
Publication:Mississippi Magazine
Date:Nov 1, 2011
Words:685
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