Sunday, January 22, 2006


Long before I ever even heard of Service Merchandise or Ellman's, metro Atlanta's first major warehouse-discount-catalog-type stores, there was Norwood-Griffin. I bought Susan's engagement ring there in 1970; after we were married in 1971, we bought towels, sheets, dishes, and other items from the store. It's been gone for many years now, and it took a month or so of mental percolating before I even remembered the name.

Norwood-Griffin was a catalog store with a small showroom; my memory tells me that it was no larger than 500 square feet, a cubbyhole store a block off Broad Street in Rome, just a door away from the back entrance to Wyatt's Department Store. There were numerous items on display there--mostly high-quality home items, linens, small appliances, but some clothing, jewelry, and electronics as well--but there was nothing for sale. Instead, there was a catalog from which these items and others could be ordered. Each item was accompanied by a list price and a discount price; the latter price, often reflecting a 40%-50% discount, was the Norwood-Griffin price. The merchandise was always first-quality, the service always personable, the atmosphere always casual and customer-friendly.

I have no idea when Norwood-Griffin went out of business, but my memory tells me that it must have been after 1977, when Susan and I moved from the Cedartown/Rome area to Marietta. That's when we quit doing most of our shopping in Rome, so I lost touch of a lot of the local stores after that. I think I would have remembered had the store closed down prior to that time.

Norwood-Griffin is one of many stores that were a part of my life in Rome, and one of those that I particularly miss. It harkens back to a pre-big-box era of retailing that I miss.

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