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The Mustard Seed changes hands

“I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” — Matthew 17:20

In 1993, Joy Collins purchased The Mustard Seed gift shop from Jean Richie 17 years after it opened as a small shop on Strawberry Avenue behind Colony Office Products. The business has since moved to the corner of Walnut Avenue and Washington Street in downtown Demopolis.

On Monday, she turned the keys over to Suzanne Stallworth Young, beginning a new chapter in the gift shop’s 33-year history.

“The Mustard Seed is going to continue on, only better with (Young’s) exuberance,” Collins said. “I’m thrilled about it!”

Collins has been with the business from the start, and while she feels the time is right to move on to other things in her life, she still finds it difficult to leave the business that she helped build.

“This is all I’ve ever done; it’s all I know,” she said. “But, I know it’s time to move on. I’m looking forward to doing other things. It just felt right when Suzanne came along — just absolutely right. Everything lined up perfectly. I think she’s going to do a brilliant job.”

A native of Selma, Young attended Auburn University, then transferred and graduated from the University of Alabama with a degree in fashion retail and design with a minor in marketing. She worked in public relations at Neiman Marcus in Atlanta after graduation.

She married Linden native Patrick Young just 18 months ago and discovered The Mustard Seed while preparing for her wedding.

“I registered here for my wedding,” she said. “I worked at Calico Cottage in Selma all through high school except for my senior year. My sister has a store in Montgomery called Hue Studio. Throughout my life, my family has owned shops, and I’ve always wanted to own my own store.

“What drew me to The Mustard Seed was Joy and her taste and her classiness, and she had a very good reputation. First, I want to really get to know the customers and get to know the business, the merchandise and the employees. In a small town, you have that special relationship with every customer, and that’s going to be my main goal.”

Young has also worked with the Alabama Tombigbee Regional Commission as an economic developer.