Steve's Sundry founder 'Steve' Stephenson dies
BY STAFF REPORTS
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Francis W. “Steve” Stephenson, who founded the iconic Steve’s Sundry, Books and Magazines in Tulsa in 1947, died Tuesday. He was 93.
Services are pending with Freeman Harris Funeral Home.
Teresa Miller, founder of the Oklahoma Center for Poets and Writers, told the Tulsa World in 2007 that Stephenson had “done more to promote Oklahoma authors than anyone else.”
Although the store carries about 60,000 books, including best-sellers and classics, Steve’s has concentrated on selling books of local and regional interest. The store hosts approximately 100 book-signings each year.
In marking the store’s 60th anniversary in 2007, Stephenson told the Tulsa World that “we’re not in competition with the chains. You can’t be in competition with them.”
Instead, Stephenson said the store has always tried to fill a niche. The business offers a wide array of magazines, and the staff leaves no stone unturned in hunting down unique books on behalf of its customers, he said.
“If it’s hard to find, we can find it,” Stephenson said then. “If we can’t find it, nobody can.”
In addition to books, Steve’s has the largest selection of magazines in Tulsa, with 2,000 to 3,000 on the shelves at any given time. It is also known for its gifts and sundry items and old-fashion soda counter.
Stephenson acquired the fountain, counter and stools from Quaker Drug, which closed its downtown Tulsa location in 1947. He took it with him when he moved Steve’s from 12th Street and Harvard Avenue to its current address, 2612 S. Harvard Ave., in 1958.
In his later years, Stephenson shared ownership of the business with his daughter-in-law, Joanie Stephenson. She remains its owner.
In the photo from 1997, Steve Stephenson stands behind the soda fountain at his store, Steve's Sundry, Books and Magazines. Stephenson died Tuesday at age 93. Tulsa World file