Abbadabba’s was started by Janice Abernethy (it’s her high school nickname) while husband-to-be Bill Carmichael was finishing up school at Emory. Her tiny little crafts shop near Emory’s law school expanded into a booth at the Atlanta Flea Market, which was unfortunately displaced by Marta’s rail station on Piedmont Road. After trying other flea markets, in 1981 Janice opened her first “real” store in Little 5 Points, Atlanta’s alternative neighborhood (one part Berkeley, two parts Greenwich Village, a splash of Coconut Grove and toss with Tara.)
The Little 5 Points store was a flea market in itself: toys, cards, gifts, jewelry, and some funny looking shoes in the back. In 1986, Bill left a career at Georgia-Pacific to join Janice full time, and the decision was made to focus on footwear. Within a year, shoes accounted for most of our sales. As Little 5 and its surrounding neighborhoods were rebirthed by urban pioneers in the early eighties, the business, and our reputation for shoes that made sense, grew. In 1988, so did Janice, who gave birth to our daughter, Abba Charice Carmichael, on September 8, 1988.
Buoyed by metro-wide customer enthusiasm, the Buckhead store was opened in 1990. “Could we take a slice of L5P to the ‘big city’ and survive?” Well, we did. The Buckhead store’s checkerboard parking lot did raise a few highbrows in Atlanta’s toddy district, but we also made a lot of new friends, and converted many a high heel to comfort footbed!
In 1994, an informal survey of our customers told us we needed to make another big jump, so we held our breath and opened the Roswell store, out there in the suburbs. Sure enough, we built it, and ya’ll came. In 1996, we again listened to our customer survey, and opened our fourth store in Gwinnett, overlooking the Gwinnett Place Mall. We are grateful that once again, our customers in the “suburbs” have supported our business so well.
In Spring of 1998, we transformed half of our Buckhead store location into Georgia’s First Birkenstock Specialty Store, and we achieved Specialty Store status at our other locations. This distinction allowed us many advantages over other Birkenstock dealers. We continue our ongoing commitment to provide the best customer service and a broad selection of product.
In 2003, we expanded once again. This time we went “West by North West” into Kennesaw, opening a store near Town Center Mall. Although somewhat smaller than our other locations, our “Ken” store is crammed with the same great footwear and provides the same level of service. In 2005, our dream of expanding Little 5 Points finally came true. We doubled our size upstairs and undertook an extensive upgrading of our interior. So far, you have seemed to like it… we are serving more customers there than ever before.
In 2007, our Buckhead store was sold out from under us to make way for what was supposed to be Ben Carter’s billion dollar rebuild of Buckhead Village. We moved a few miles North next to the Fresh Market at Wieuca and Roswell Road, and built out the new Buckhead store with a spiffy new design. We hoped to keep all of our existing friends and add some new ones, and the response has been super. “New” Buckhead has become a co-flagship store for us, and we are so grateful for our loyal customers who made the journey with us!
Our next big project focused on Roswell. After 18 years on the East side of Roswell, we were compelled to move by a new landlord and started a search for a new location. Working with Muntzing-Satelle, our Kennesaw store landlord, we found a wonderful space on the West side of Roswell in East Cobb, near Merchants Walk. We built out our largest, and we believe most beautiful location yet and opened in March of 2012. The reception by the folks in and around East Cobb has been awesome.
We continue our story by reinventing ourselves several times a year, pursuing our passion for innovative comfort footwear, and listening to the directions our customers want us to go. It is a honor and a privilege we hope we earn every day. Thanks for giving us the opportunity to knock your socks off, Atlanta!
Janice (“Abbadabba”) and Bill