Shopping with the Vintage Traveler: Southeast Tennessee

Sometimes I get a place that I’ve visited on my mind, and I just can’t shake it until I make another visit.  In the latest case of this shopper’s disease, I was thinking of some little towns in the southeast section of Tennessee.  The last time I’d been to these towns was in 2009, on a trip with my sister.  Perhaps that is the reason the area continues to have a special appeal.

So on a whim, I headed west, along with my non-antiques-obsessed but very patient husband.  Our first stop was the westernmost town in North Carolina, Murphy.  I knew of at least one good antiques mall in Murphy, and I was not disappointed.  Above are pictured a trio of 1920s  store displays of hosiery.  Can you guess which one was added to my collection?

We found another, smaller store in Murphy that had a great selection of antique and vintage photos and postcards.  I found some super sports related ones, including a 1915 illustrated postcard of a young woman bowling.

I’ve always loved shopping in Cleveland, TN, and I can’t believe it has taken me so long to return to this favorite little town.  There are several top-notch antique malls, and the photos came from three of them:  The Antiques Parlour, Mora’s, and Relics.  All had some seriously wonderful things, including the shoes above, which I bought.  Made from canvas with leather soles, I could not find a maker’s label.

After seeing Manus X Machina at the Met this summer, I’ve paid special attention to anything made with feathers.  There is a real art to working with feathers, to get the design to accentuate the structure of the feather.  I did not buy this hat, but I did appreciate the skill of the milliner.

These 1960s stretch lamé boots were never worn.  Could it be that the original buyer saw them and pictured herself as a swinging mod, but then lost courage?  I hope not.

If I were a collector of vintage children’s clothing, I’d have come home broke.  Almost every shop we visited had so much little cuteness!

I also found lots of very nice vintage patterns, but my vow is to buy none unless they are for my own use.  Still, these were hard to pass up, and almost made me wish I loved to be a pattern seller.

To prove a point, I do not buy every Scotty dog tchotchke that I run across.  I’d like to, but I do not.

Can you imagine a time when driving an automobile was so special that a series of books was written about it?  I need their hats and scarves.

And here’s a titillating look at a shapely ankle.

I didn’t buy this card, but I probably should have, as it really sums up our day.  “When he’s being obliging, don’t overtax him.”  It was time to head for the hotel, the pool, a cold drink and dinner.

We spent the night in Athens, TN.  I went off by myself to an old favorite antique mall in town only to find it had lost its lease and was closing.  That’s a real disappointment, but one I’m seeing more and more.

Is there anything more fun than a vintage button card?

The next day started in Sweetwater, TN, a very small town which has given over its downtown to sellers of antiques, vintage, and collectibles.  In other words, it is my kind of place.  The businesses in the town have changed a bit since my last trip with two of my favorites having disappeared, but there was still plenty to make me happy.  I found some 1970s Seventeen magazines, a wonderful little 1940s box handbag, and even Tim found a few things he just could not live without.

I loved this example of the 1970s nostalgia craze.

One store, Antiques at the Mill, had a nice selection of antique and vintage sewing machines, plus lots of patterns and other sewing stuff.  But even my eyes were beginning to glaze over from just the sheer volume of all of it.

Out next stop was Maryville, a town which I had fond memories of past finds.  But it was disappointing, with the best shops gone, and the others not really having any good fashion related material.  I did think this authentic vintage sign was interesting.  $695.

This was some seriously cute fish fabric that was backing a seriously ordinary 1950s quilt.

We finished the shopping in Townsend, TN, in two nice malls that were full, but not of stuff for me.  I have managed to avoid collecting these 1920s and 1930s sporty girl figurines.

We took the scenic route home, through the middle of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  As a final treat, we got a fine view of a large herd of elk resting in a meadow.  No photos, unfortunately, as we were too caught up in the moment to pull out the cameras.

 

4 Comments

Filed under Shopping

4 responses to “Shopping with the Vintage Traveler: Southeast Tennessee

  1. Enjoyed your photos and comments. Changing subject — I work in a vintage shop and we got in a Swirl wrap dress today, which I took home to fix its stains and yellowing. Your article was really helpful — I had noticed its pearly “swirl” button and was pleased to read that this was the button they (always?) used. Also, I have a Bob Mackie silk chiffon gown from 1986 with the Saks Fifth Avenue price tag still on — $7999 — I paid $125 at the mothership Filene’s Basement in Boston. Is that a record?

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    • Subject changing is always welcomed here. I have seen Swirl dresses without the swirly button, but it’s possible they were changed at some point. And I had no idea a Bob Mackie gown would have been so expensive! Good buy.

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  2. Looks like a really good trip. I love the stocking and button displays, and those fantastic shoes!

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