What is it about old, rusty antiques that we find so endearing? Maybe it’s the stories that they carry with them from owner to owner. Or perhaps we think that the older something is, the more character it has. Whatever the reason, you can’t deny that feeling of excitement when you stumble upon a souvenir from yesteryear. Whether it’s an old red lantern or a mint green typewriter with delicate little keys, knowing that you can’t find that item at the local Hobby Lobby or Target thrills you even more.
Now that I’m an official Knoxvillian and because I don’t like to keep a juicy deal all to myself, I’ve decided to share with you several of my favorite antique/vintage/thrift/bargain (All fancy words for ‘old stuff’) stores in the area.
Before we jump in, I think it’s best that you know the back story. The reason for my fascination with things not from my time.
So, here’s where it all began:
Goodwill Industries – Knoxville, Kingston Pike
A couple of years ago, while I was on my Goodwill kick (Let’s be honest, I’m still on my Goodwill kick), I was rummaging through the shelves at my favorite Goodwill location. As my eyes scanned the various knick knacks, they came to a screeching halt when I spotted a large, mint green object that was tossed haphazardly onto the middle shelf.
“Is that what I think it is?”, I thought to myself as I reached for it quickly.
I grabbed the cover handle and, with quite the effort, due to the unexpected weight of the thing, flipped it right side up so that I could get a better look at this forgotten treasure. As I lifted up the cover, rows and rows of square, mint green keys stared back at me. It WAS what I thought it was after all — a typewriter! I had been wanting one since high school, but could never bring myself to dish out the dollars for it when I knew I would find one for the right price at the right time. All of my waiting had finally paid off. For $30, I was able to take home my 1958 Hermes 3000. When I got home, I discovered that my thrifted trinket would not only make a charming addition to my room, but it was also functional, and had the most delightful swirly girly font. Fast forward two years, Herman the Hermes has typed many letters to friends and family and was even displayed at our wedding this past March. My typewriter not only holds the history of its past owners, but now mine as well.
If you’ve been searching endlessly for a particular item to embellish your home, like my hunt for a typewriter, these shops might just be your best bet.
Nostalgia has some of the neatest little baubles I’ve ever seen, and many of them are in great condition, including some typewriters. However, be prepared to spend a little more on these items since they are in such great shape. They also have boxes of old postcards worth thumbing through and a great collection of reasonably priced records that are conveniently alphabetized if I’m remembering correctly. In addition to their plethora of vintage pieces, they carry handmade cards and coasters from local Knoxville artisans. Nostalgia is located in The District in Bearden off of Kingston Pike and I would definitely recommend carving out an hour during a rainy afternoon to make a visit.
Knox Heritage Salvage Shop
I cannot do this shop justice with my own words, so here’s what they have to say for themselves:
“The Salvage Shop is a program of Knox Heritage, accepting donated historic building materials to prevent these valuable items from going to the landfill. These items are re-sold to benefit Knox Heritage. The Salvage Shop’s inventory is stocked with items to help restore historic homes or serve as the base materials for new projects. The shop’s Facebook page is constantly updated with new additions to the inventory, as well as inspiration for up-cycled projects and customers sharing their own work with the community. The shop also rents studio space to local artists”
WOW, how cool is that? It’s not every day that you find a group of people dedicated to preserving the bits and pieces that add character to an old home instead of trading it out for all things new. If you consider yourself a creative person who has vision and the ability to see the potential in an item even in its beginning stages, start Salvaging! I stopped in this shop recently and they had some really unique pieces that could be HGTV worthy if the right person comes along and gives them a little time, effort and a fresh coat of paint!
This piano was only selling for $150! *googly eyes*
Tons of old wooden window panes and doors waiting for someone to pick them up for their next DIY project!
Vintage Treasures is on Kingston Pike, located in the same strip mall as Four Seasons. I visited Vintage Treasures with my mom a couple of years ago when it went by a different name and was under different ownership, and to be honest, I wasn’t crazy about what they had to offer. However, I visited recently and they have new owners who are so sweet and friendly and have really done the place up right! It’s clean and organized and the store goes on for miles. They have an extensive collection of old books, super cheap records, and typewriters to boot! I got a Hall & Oates record for $3.50 which I would have gotten for five times that amount at another record store that I visit from time to time.
Retrospect Vintage Store
If your taste is a bit old school like mine and 60s/70s era doodads strike your fancy (I’m talkin’ macrame plant hangers, plaid couches and matching Pyrex sets), this place is especially for you. Retrospect looks like a scene straight out of That 70s Show. When I stopped in for the first time, it was a gorgeous sunny day and I could hear their 60s tunes spilling through the open doors. They have a large selection of vintage clothing and funky dishware that would make Austin Powers himself green with envy.
If these mushroom cookie jars and baby blue tuxedo don’t make you want to visit the shop, I don’t know what will.
Does anyone else remember these macrame owls hanging in your grandparent’s houses?
Tea & Treasures
Daniel, my mom and I passed by Tea & Treasures on our way back from a BBQ lunch in Maryville and we immediately turned the car around because we were intrigued by this big, white Victorian and what might be inside. We were greeted by a little red cart stacked high with books parked by the sidewalk that winds its way up to the front porch. Once inside, we grabbed some refreshments while we browsed the upstairs and downstairs of the old house. The shop sells mostly local artisan crafts such as the coasters I mentioned earlier, that are made by Set in Stone Sisters. The coasters feature historic buildings and landmarks in Knoxville such as the Tennessee Theater, the big JFG coffee sign in South Knoxville and the Sunsphere. We have two of them sitting on our own coffee table at home. The shop is located in Vestal off Martin Mill Pike.
Bearden Antique Mall
This is a great place for anyone who has a little extra dough to spend on big ticket items such as a dining room set, living room furniture or a solid wood headboard. However, they do have some smaller items for sale on the first floor like these two typewriters. Even if you’re just there to browse, the Bearden Antique Mall is worth checking out simply to walk on the creeky wooden floorboards on the second floor. Nostalgia and Vintage Treasures are just a short drive from here, so you can visit all three if you’ve got a free afternoon on your hands.
You’ll want to follow these shops on Instagram as well so that you can see their most recent items for sale. The majority of these shops post new things every day and following them on social media will give you a good idea of what they each carry in store as well as some cool events that they take part in every year!
What are your favorite antique stores? If there are any I didn’t mentioned who should have been, recommend them in the comments below for future exploration!