I remember the first time my mom took me to Beverly Bremer Silver Shop. I stepped through the door and was in awe of the large collection of shiny silver. I instantly knew it was a place of importance and my best behavior was a must. Since the founding of the shop in 1975, the Bremer family has been assisting Atlanta’s families and brides with buying and selling their sterling silver. Today, we sit down and chat with Mimi Bremer Woodruff, the daughter of founder Beverly Bremer.
Beverly Bremer Silver Shop is an Atlanta institution, but I don’t think most people know how it started. Can you tell us?
My mother started her shop in 1975 after she divorced. She had three children, no child support and no alimony. She had exhausted all resources and was prepared to sell her wedding silver, Francis I and Burgundy by Reed & Barton. She took it to a pawnshop, and the broker offered her $4 per ounce or about $250 for her eight place settings of silver. She remarked that she felt it was worth much more than scrap silver, as it was arguably one of the most popular patterns amongst her and her friends. He quickly reiterated that it was just 62 ounces of silver and she should go find some of those friends to buy it from her. Refusing to take scrap for her wedding silver, she set up shop at the Atlanta Flea Market. Mom rented a booth on the front row, took her silver, and in the first weekend she sold every last piece. There were people missing a teaspoon and those who needed extra salad forks, and those who wanted to add a place setting or two. She sold them whatever piece they were missing, and her trademark “Missing a Piece of Your Pattern?” was born. She went back to that pawnshop and asked what other silver he had for sale. She knew that there would be a market for popular patterns, so she struck up a great relationship with the pawnbrokers and estate dealers throughout Atlanta. When she left the flea market in 1980, she loaded her stock into a Brink’s truck and moved it to Peachtree Road, where she has been ever since.
As a young child, what was it like to watch you mom build a local business?
As a young child I was the one of her three children who had the most time to work side by side with my mom. I would spend my weekend hours polishing and identifying silver patterns and putting it into alphabetized boxes. I watched mom take careful notes in spiral bound notebooks after every sale. She would note the person’s name, their pattern, what they bought and what they still needed to complete their set. I admired her work ethic. She spent hours researching and identifying, polishing and inspecting each piece to make sure it was exactly the right size and condition to match an older set and she taught me those skills. And, this was all before the Internet, Google and Ebay!
What is your favorite piece of silver in your collection?
I love all of the pieces in my collection equally for their different uses and how I came to acquire them. I particularly love the flatware that we picked out when we married because we use it every day, and a gorgeous wine cooler that is inscribed with a special sentiment to commemorate the birth of our son.
Most people only bring their silver out a couple of times a year. What are your favorite everyday uses for silver?
I tell anyone who will listen that you must use and enjoy your silver to make it a part of the everyday elegance in your life. Use your flatware and don’t be afraid to put it in the dishwasher; just don’t use a detergent with lemon or citrus. I plant my wine coolers with everything from hydrangeas in the spring to fir trees at Christmas, and I force bulbs in everything from julep cups to Revere bowls. Put your Q-tips in a baby cup and serve nuts in a baby porringer. Arrange flowers in toothpick holders and keep your rings by the sink in a mint dish. Silver is very durable and meant to be repurposed constantly for your enjoyment.
If you weren’t working for your family’s business, what would you dream of doing?
I dream of having an organic farm growing fantastic vegetables and gorgeous flowering plants. I would have an enormous worm compost. Or, a food truck called Mimi’s Paninis.
Do you think it’s possible to achieve a balance between work and family life?
If balance is 50/50, then no, there is no balance. I give it all I’ve got. The “IT” tilts between a fabulous family that I am very proud of and an exciting business that I love being a part of. I also make time for friends, personal growth and exercise. It’s not a balance: it’s a Cirque du Soleil juggling act.
Between working for your family’s business and raising young children, what tools do you use to help you stay organized?
iPhone, iPhone, iPhone. It beeps, whistles, hums and chirps a different tune for each of my family members and friends. It tells me where to be and when and who’s going to be there. I also love to cook, so I will devote early-morning hours or one weekend day to preparing foods we can pull out and finish easily during the week. We eat dinner together as a family at least 5 nights a week, and that is a great time to keep up with each other and stay organized and on top of what is happening next.
What is the best advice you have received in business?
Thomas Edison said, “The three great essentials to achieve anything worthwhile are, first, hard work; second, stick-to-itiveness; third, common sense.” My mom lives and works that way and instilled that in me.
What are a few of your favorite restaurants for date night?
We love Anis or Sotto Sotto for a date night. If we can’t get away for the whole night my husband will often surprise me and pick me up at the shop and we will go have a delicious martini at King and Duke or the upstairs bar at JCT before heading home to dinner.
You have seen Atlanta grow and change from growing up here and living here as an adult. What are your favorite things about our city?
Atlanta was always considered rather provincial when I was growing up, but it has blossomed into a gracious and very cosmopolitan city. My favorite thing about this city will always be the people, who I find to be generous, talented and thoughtful. I also love being able to eat delicious, innovative food, enjoy the arts, walk three or four miles on a completely wooded trail near my house and shop at Whole Foods.
If you have friends visit Atlanta for the weekend, what are your favorite things to see and do?
We love to visit Oakland Cemetery and eat lunch at Six Feet Under. Recently, we took a group to The Sundial Room at the Peachtree Plaza Hotel and everyone was bowled over by the view. And, it’s always fun to drive around and show off some of our gorgeous neighborhoods, particularly in the spring.
What is a luxury that you like to indulge in from time to time?
A long, relaxing facial at Woo. It is my favorite indulgence.
What books or movies have you loved this year?
My favorite movie this year has to be The Intouchables. It is French with subtitles, so can I count that as reading, too? I love the Century Trilogy by Ken Follett. I cannot get enough of it!
With the holidays right around the corner can you tell us a few of your favorite holiday traditions?
We always load up and go to the big Farmer’s Market in Forest Park and buy a huge Christmas tree from the Young Brothers from North Carolina. The tree sits and sits outside “soaking up water” for at least a week until we haul it in and load it with big colored lights and tons of ornaments including silver ones that I have collected since my children were born. We have a big, elegant Christmas Eve dinner at our great friends’ house before Midnight Mass, and a delicious gourmet meal that my brother slaves over on Christmas day.
What are three things you cannot live without, besides God, Family, and Friends:
- Our Mountain Getaway
- Steele Chardonnay
Thank you, Mimi! Beverly Bremer stocks every piece of silver you can imagine and also offers polishing service. For more information visit their website: www.beverlybremer.com
And a big thank you to our FACES photographer, Cat Max Photography!