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CoolShoes - Abbadabba's

Atlanta’s Premier Source for Innovative Comfort Footwear

  • Buckhead Blog - 2016

    Our original Buckhead store on East Paces Ferry was our first foray out of Little 5 Points, opening in 1990. We wondered if the ritzy, upper-scale and (in some cases) wealthy neighborhood would respond to us bringing the “ugly” comfort shoes and the hippy-punk staff to their neck of the woods. abbadabbas-buckhead-atlanta-checkerboardLeasing the ancient “High Fidelity SSS” standalone storefront, we resolved to be ourselves as boldly as possible, starting with our signature “checkerboard” parking lot and extending to the extensive faux-finished interior walls (hand painted by Abbadabba herself.) We probably could not have picked a worse time; Buckhead Village was on the ropes, vacancies were high; rough and tumble bars and clubs had scared off retail customers and many retail merchants. Coming from Little 5, of course, this didn’t bother us much at all.

    Respond they did. Our new neighbors came in for their Birkenstock sandals, Dr. Martens boots, and NaNa shoes. From the Governor’s mansion to the West and from the Chastain-Wieuca to the North, the affluent and curious found comfort and fashion they had not seen before. Having been active in the Little 5 Points Business Association, we helped form the Buckhead Village Merchants Association, which in turn, helped build up the retail store presence in the Village. Over the next few years, Buckhead Village became healthy, strong, and… fully occupied.

    Our little building was cramped from the outset, and as we grew, even more so. A temporary shed snuck behind the building helped a little. For a time, we even split the store in half, operating a “Birkenstock Specialty Store” in one half, and with the rest of our stuff crammed into the other. abbadabbas-buckhead-atlanta-insideOur customers grew, our L5P store expanded into two floors, but we were stuck in Buckhead with a building that seemed to get smaller and smaller as our brands and stock grew larger and larger.

    Fortuity struck in 2007, when our landlord of 17 years sold the building out from under us, for a planned blocks-wide super project (that has never materialized.) Forced to move, we lucked out and found our current location a couple of miles to the North, just off Wieuca road, and still in the heart of our customer’s neighborhoods.


    Expanded nearly twice the size, our new Buckhead store was the first (and only) to utilize an outside designer. New Buckhead brought a unique look, but with the same feel of comfortable shoes, and knowledgeable salespeople.

    Today our Buckhead store has grown to become our flagship store, outpacing even Little 5 Points for us. We have the room to show a huge selection of the best the market can offer. Our staff continues to be trained and retrained to help meet the diverse needs of the diverse customers who visit us there.  And our customers keep coming for the latest Dansko, Naot, Mephisto, Olukai, Rainbow, Toms, Chaco… and dozens of other brands.

  • Soho of the South. Atlanta’s Village. SoPo. Little 5.

    SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERAOver the years, Little 5 Points has earned a variety of nicknames for the wide array of quirky businesses and vibrant personalities that have entrenched the Little 5 Points business district as a very special part of Atlanta’s modern soul.

    In the early 1900’s, Atlanta’s first suburbanites in ritzy Inman Park and Candler Park were connected to downtown Atlanta with a trolley service, linking their Five Points with our Little 5 Points. This haven half-way to Decatur spawned a business district that grew between the two Parks and flourished with them for decades. But like our neighbors, we decayed in the 40’s and 50’s as countless other, newer neighborhoods circled Atlanta in every direction.

    The urban pioneers of the 60’s found and fixed dilapidated homes and businesses as intown living was ‘rediscovered.’ Occupancy picked up from mostly vacant to waiting lists. And the new, exciting character of Little 5 Points evolved from those ashes as the place where everybody was welcome, and diversity and creativity were celebrated.

    SAM_0428 edWhat does that look like? Arts, music, theater, bars, restaurants, boutiques, of course. An abandoned school turned into a Community Center with its own own indie radio station and avant garde theater company. Independent record stores (WaxnFacts, Criminal), independent bookstores (Charis, A Capella), pre-Starbucks coffee shops, a regional performance venue, the South’s vanguard co-op food store, and countless business experiments took hold here, with the common denominator being locally conceived, owned, and operated. So much creativity in one place naturally spilled out into the street, in the form of outdoor music and art festivals, and our now renown Halloween parade.

    One of the many businesses that sank its roots in Little 5 was our own little experiment named for its owner: Abbadabba’s. Starting with toys, cards, gifts, jewelry, and ‘some shoes in the back,’ Abbadabba moved from her weekend launching pad at the fabled Atlanta Flea Market into her first real retail store, a sliver next to the Sevanada Co-op, part of a building that became a National Treasure. We still looked and felt like a mini flea market, but the shoes in the back quickly became our calling. Basing on Birkenstock, and Shakti, we started on the mission to bring Innovative Comfort Footwear to Atlanta, before the concept of “comfort footwear” had even been born. That focus on shoes exploded our business, and in just a few years, we became known for our cool shoes, and have been ever since.

    We have won our share of awards, of course. But the win we are most proud of is with each customer who discovers how healthful, hip footwear can transform how they look and feel. We solved problems, created opportunities, and spread the word about comfort footwear that we literally helped create.

    l5p inter JADE 3 122711 ed 800wIt’s not just what’s on our shelves that’s positioned us as Atlanta’s premier source for cool shoes. We are deeply committed to providing a truly pleasant shopping experience, as we introduce each customer to comfortable footwear that promotes a healthy life. We have a great story to tell, finding the shoes your feet want and need. And we also make it fun to discover that perfect fit and function. We enjoy spending time with you in our store, and appreciate you choosing to spend your shopping time with us.

    Our amazing customers have propelled us to expand in Atlanta to four stores, each catering to the needs of their own rich community. Each store has its own personality, people, and products. But Abbadabba’s was born and raised in Little 5, and that commitment to creativity and individuality still pervades our business soul. We are Atlanta’s Premier Source for Innovative, Comfort footwear, and it all started right here in L5P.

  • Get Ready 4 Spring: A Healthy Pedicure

    Finally! Sandal season is upon us! Spring is the time when our toes get to come out from hiding from our UGG boots, rain boots, knee-socks and snuggly slippers. Are your toes ready to see the light of day?  If they’re anything like ours, then….probably not. Am I right?

    Kristen-Beach-PediSo, first order of business is a pedicure. But we’re not talking any old strip-mall nail shop pedicure...we’re talking about a healthy pedicure. Getting a pedicure is a time-honored way for women - and men! - to pamper one’s self and relax. But did you know that they are also good for your feet?  There are numerous health benefits associated with pedicures.  You just have to make sure you’re getting them done the right way. Otherwise, they may have the opposite effect.

    First we’ll look at the benefits of getting a pedicure. Of course there are the obvious benefits of relaxation, and perhaps more importantly...not having your feet resemble Bilbo Baggins and his Hobbit feet.  But the benefits don’t stop there. The foot massage that accompanies most pedicures can help stimulate circulation in your feet and lower legs. The increased blood flow helps prevent clotting, and is good for the overall health of your feet. Removing calluses and excess dead skin can help prevent the formation of painful pressure points on your feet, caused by uneven weight distribution. Regular pedicures can also help prevent ingrown toenails, blisters, and blackened toenails (especially common among runners).

    Next, we want to stress that pedicures are not solely (pun not Babe-Ruth-Pediintended) for the ladies.  Many guys are getting in on the action. It’s not just for vanity reasons, either. (Although avoiding “Hobbit Feet” is as good a reason as any.) Many spas are now offering “Sports Manicures” for athletes who are notoriously hard on their feet. Athletes know how important foot health is to their overall well-being and performance, and pedicures can help. Hey dude, if Babe Ruth, Tim Tebow and David Beckham can do it, so can you!

    So now that you the health benefits of a pedicures, here’s a little primer of the do’s (COOL) and dont’s (NOT COOL) of getting a healthy pedicure:

    #Kristen-Birkenstock-Pedi1 ON THE NOT-COOL LIST: Never, ever, ever stick your feet in a jacuzzi tub. Do NOT be charmed by the allure of that bubbling cauldron of fungus and bacteria. I know it may feel good in the moment, but it certainly won’t a week later when you are fighting a fungal or bacterial infection on your feet.

    COOL: Your pedicurist uses a freshly cleaned and sterilized bowl or bath in which to soak your feet.

    NOT-COOL: You do not see a sterilizer for the pedicurist’s tools.

    COOL: Your pedicurist is using stainless steel tools that are sterilized before and after every use and client.

    NOT-COOL: Shaving your legs before a pedicure. Shaving leaves tiny cracks and micro-tears in your skin, in which bacteria can enter. That goes for you, too, guys. That is SO not cool.

    COOL: Pedicurists who cut or file toenails straight across in order to prevent ingrown toenail.

    NOT-COOL: Cutting cuticles. DO NOT CUT CUTICLES. STOP IT. JUST NO. Cuticles are there to protect your nails from microbes.  They are part of our body’s many natural defense mechanisms. It is perfectly fine for the pedicurist to apply natural oils to your cuticles and to push them down gently, but do not let them cut.  Your cuticles and the skin around your nails should never look red after a pedicure.

    And finally...COOL...a pedicurist who is more concerned by your foot health and comfort than how many feet come in and out of his/her door or what color polish you choose.

    Some Atlanta nail salons, we endorse and love:

    Wax-ATL/Buff Nail Care (Inman Park/O4W)

    10Ten Nail Bar (various locations)

  • Abbadabba's - Where Women Matter

    This Sunday, March 8th, marks the 107th International Women’s Day, a day to recognize and celebrate women across the world and their accomplishments.  It’s also a day to educate people about the struggles of inequality many women, both here and abroad, still face. In the United States, the celebration has been extended to the entire month of March and dubbed “Women’s History Month.”  Therefore, we thought this would be a perfect opportunity to reach out to our Coolshoes Community, and celebrate the fact that we have been a majority women-founded and operated business in Atlanta since the 1970s.

    janice-abernethyIn fact, the business was birthed four decades ago by one incredible woman, Janice “Abbadabba” Abernethy. Nearly forty years have gone by and the business - Abbadabba’s - has grown from a one-woman operation into a thriving company of 30+ employees, 4-store brick-and-mortar locations and an online store. It was Janice’s passion through the years that has kept Abbadabba’s going and growing.

    When asked about her tenure at Abbadabba’s, Janice replied “What an amazing and incredible ride it’s been! In the beginning I never envisioned anything other than doing it all myself, but as things grew I hired my first employee (a woman), and later enlisted the help of a bookkeeper (who also happened to be a woman). There was never meant to be an exclusion of men; it just seemed the business attracted women! Nurturing, fitting, following up, always trying to deliver on service and satisfaction….These are things women do so well.”

    Bill-and-janice-travel-3[We must mention that in 1986, however, Janice employed one very important man...her husband Bill Carmichael! In 1991 the couple incorporated the business, and its been owned 50/50 ever since.]

    But Janice isn’t the only woman of importance at Abbadabba’s.  With the exception of Bill, our CEO, our entire senior management team are women. This team of women works tirelessly and collaboratively to run the Abbadabba’s organization from finance to buying, e-commerce to store operations/human resources. All of the women in our senior management crew climbed the ranks from salespeople working with customers, to store management and then beyond. There’s no Glass Ceiling at Abbadabba’s.  We may be small, but the sky is our limit.

    “I can’t imagine Abbadabba’s without ‘Abbadabba’ [Janice] at the helm,” says Kristen Smith, Chief Financial Officer and 15.5 year employee of Abbadabba’s.  “I’ve learned so much about business, be it negotiating, merchandising or just attention to detail from Janice over the years. I would not be where I am today, either personally or professionally, if I hadn’t learned from one of the best.”

    We also have a very diverse staff, and an even more diverse market with women making up a majority of our customer base...many of whom act as the “Chief Buying Officers” of their own families. We’ve always made it our practice to pay our employees fairly, regardless of gender, race, religion or sexuality; and we’re committed to the same principles of fairness and equality in all of our dealings with our customers, our vendor partners, and all other entities with whom we engage. We value the needs of all of our Abbadabba’s “family” and provide benefits that help our extended family of employees and their families succeed, grow and thrive - from exceptional medical benefits, to a company-sponsored 401(k), to allowing for school schedules and paid sick days. It’s important to us to support our staff and view them all as individuals, rather than a cog in a machine or a number on a timecard.

    From Janice at the top all the way down to our newest employees on the sales floor, our company is filled with great female role models. Over the years, female employees have built upon their Abbadabba’s experience and moved on to high levels in other retail stores, to own their own businesses, to project management at renowned media, architecture and design firms, and more. We’re proud of their time spent working for our company, and we strive to continue supporting them as they move on to new ventures, as well. Women-owned businesses represent one of the fastest-growing segments of the economy. There are currently over 10 million women-owned businesses in the US, and we are proud to say we are one of them.

    To learn more please visit

    And to learn more about Abbadabba’s History, click here

  • Get Ready 4 Spring: Birkenstock Repairs

    While most of the country is still knee-deep into the dreary days of winter, we at Abbadabba’s are already thinking ahead to spring. The bulk of our shipments of sandals and flip-flops and all things spring are just a few weeks from coming in. And some things are already starting to trickle in, day by day...

    Birkenstock-Resole-AbbadabbasSo, what better time than now to take an assessment of your own spring and summer shoes, and see what needs a little makeover?  Did you know that you can actually repair your trusty, well-loved Birkenstock footwear to make them last longer?  Most Birkenstock sandals and clogs have an EPA sole that can be replaced when the edges or heels start to wear down.  The time frame for this wear-and-tear is unique to the individual owner. Some people are quite easy on their shoes, and their soles may last years.  Others are much harder on their feet or wear their shoes more often. These people will see greater or quicker wear. Some people experience pronation or supination that can cause uneven wear on the edges or heels of the soles.  All these problems can be repaired, if caught in time.

    Here’s where we can step in...We offer resoling options, using a local repair man in Atlanta.  He has done our repairs and customers’ repairs for many years, usually in a 2-4 week generally 2 weeks turnaround. There are also online outfits the can service our customers outside of the Atlanta-metro. One reputable outfit is Resole America.  (They also handle resoling for many of the other brands we carry, such as Wolverine, Naot, and more.)*

    Birkenstock-Cork-SealerThe cork footbeds can also be maintained and repaired.  We always recommend monitoring the exposed cork on the sides of your Birkenstock clogs and sandals to ensure that the cork is properly sealed.  When the shiny sealant on the exposed cork starts to wear off, revealing dull or dry cork, we recommend re-coating the exposed cork using Birkenstock Cork Sealer.  This is a must, if you want your Birkenstock sandals and clogs to live long, happy lives.

    One thing to remember though….

    Take care of your Birkenstocks and they can last as long as these - over 15 years! Take care of your Birkenstocks and they can last as long as these - over 15 years!

    Cool Rule #1: DO NOT APPLY CORK SEALER TO THE SUEDE FOOTBED. If you do so, you have essentially ruined your sandals, and we can’t help you after that. Apply ONLY to the exposed cork around the sides of the shoe. We know that may sound obvious to most of you, but believe us, you guys….we’ve seen it all over the last few decades!

    If you notice that your cork has been damaged, worn down, or is flaking away, it can usually be filled in. There are some situations the cork is too worn for an effective/lasting repair, and the only option is to replace the shoe.  However, if you maintain your cork and seal it using the Cork Sealer, you should get many many wears (years!) out of your shoes.

    Other repairs can include suede footbed liner replacement, replacement buckles and stitching, regluing  of straps, and more.  We encourage you to bring in any and all of your Birkenstock sandals lurking in your closets and waiting for spring, so we can evaluate them for any repair needs.  That way, you’ll be ready to go once those azaleas start blooming and the temps start to rise.

    Resole prices range from $42 - $55. Minor, miscellaneous repairs (cork work only, buckles, etc) range from $5 - $20.

    *Resole America is not affiliated with Abbadabba’s -, but many of our customers have used this outfit.  We make no satisfaction guarantees regarding Resole America’s work.

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