The University of North Carolina at Greensboro

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A valentine for The Corner
by Mike Harris '93 MA, UNCG Magazine assistant editor

You remember cards, right? If you were a student on campus when greeting cards and holiday cards were something you sent through the mail, you knew where to get them: The Corner. Located on Tate Street, it was opened in 1950 by Hugh Snavely. The Woman's College students had a convenient place to buy stationery, stockings, pens and plants. And maybe a sandwich and freshly squeezed lemonade.

Times changed. As Woman's College transformed into the university we now know, sales of ladies' gloves and hose plummeted as fashions changed. The Corner stopped selling hose in 1967. As Hugh Snavely got older, he sold the store to his son Grant. Flowers became a bigger part of their sales — passers-by would see buckets of flowers outside, with more flowers inside. Grant would almost always be behind the register, beside the door. Valentine's Day became The Corner's signature day.

News clippings kept by University Archives tell the tale: The soda fountain closed in 1999. Hugh Snavely died in September 2003 — a newspaper article on his death said that he made it to the store at least once a week up until a few weeks before his death. Another one says each Valentine's Day, he'd come in with cookies for all the workers.

As the Fall 2010 semester wound down, a sign went up: Clearance sale. In February, a new sign: Everything half off.

The final day was February 25.

That afternoon, Grant Snavely sat behind the register greeting customers one last time.

Stephanie Turner '08, '11 MA recalled her mother's stories about The Corner. Martha Turner '60 would buy her cards there. Stephanie was one of many who reminisced with Grant that afternoon. As the sun set, Grant made his way to the car, leaving employees to lock up.

Tiffany Garrett and Grant Snavely on The Corner's final day. Tiffany Garrett and Grant Snavely on The Corner's final day.

The remaining stock was liquidated within days.

What remains is an empty storefront in a prime location — and lots of warm memories.

Remembering The Corner

While I was a student here ('90-'97) I stopped there once a month to buy cards to send to my grandmothers. Mr. Snavely always asked which grandmother was getting which card. He reminded me frequently that what I was doing was important and that keeping in touch with our elders was one of the best things we could do.

Also, since my husband (also a UNCG graduate) and I met in 1998, he has bought me roses every Valentine's Day from The Corner. The flowers were always beautiful and lasted quite a while.

He had to buy me grocery store ones this year. They weren't nearly as beautiful. Needless to say we'll miss this UNCG treasure.

Lisa C. McHenry '97

 

The Corner was right across the street from the Music Building. For those of us who were Music Majors and spent practically all our time in the Music Building, The Corner was a perfect place to hang out between seemingly endless hours of rehearsals, classes, and practicing. Over my four years there, I must have consumed enough cherry coke to float a good-sized battleship!

Rachel Brett Harley '60

 

I've often told people that the reason I never smoked is that I chose to eat “Hot fudge cake” (from The Corner) rather than buy cigarettes.

Ann Kimball Stafford Dillon '62

 

I used to buy ice cream at The Corner. And I once bought my fiancée a little wooden dodo bird, with a spring in its beak. It was for holding notes. When my wife died (after 31 years of marriage), I gave the dodo to our son. He still has it.

Pat Edmundson '74

 

As a business major, I needed a fountain pen and ink for taking shorthand and I always bought them at The Corner. Now a fountain pen costs hundreds of dollars.

Esther E. Griffin '62

 

The Corner was PART of UNCG. The orangeade was my favorite.

Lynne Watson Bell '73

 

In the summer of '59, I had broken up with my boyfriend which I regretted immediately. In the fall of 1960, there came an announcement over the Winfield intercom that Linda Flynn had a visitor in the parlor. When I entered I was surprised to see THE BOYFRIEND. He apologized for showing up with no notice and began to give an explanation, which I did not hear because I was so excited. He suggested that we go to The Corner and get a cup of coffee. I hated coffee (and still do) but I immediately agreed. That was the best and worst thing I had ever drunk because that summer I became Mrs. Stuart Tugman and we celebrated our 50th anniversary in 2010!

Linda Flynn Tugman '60

 

 

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The last day
On Feb. 25, Grant Snavely retired and The Corner closed for good. Read an account from that week's Campus Weekly of that final afternoon.

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