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Friday, December 20, 2013

Pickin’ Trip to Sweetwater, TN ~ Home of TN’s Redneck Resort

My picker friends and I decided to go at a treasure hunt on the spur of the moment.  Carol ~ “I don’t have anything to do on Thursday. Can we go shopping?”  And so the adventure began…with the tortoise and the hare.  (One can be as slow as molasses, and the other runs like a rabbit out of the gate at the greyhound park…as for me, I’m stuck in the middle, ready to run, but waiting to lock the truck.)

The destination for this trip was Sweetwater, TN, a city located off I-75 between Knoxville and Chattanooga.  Home of the Redneck Resort reality series about mud racing, etc.  They proudly boast “Hillbilly tourism at its finest”!  But that wasn’t why we chose the destination…I had remembered seeing a flea market right off the Interstate and was sure it would prove a gold mine.  We met in Murfreesboro to begin our trek down south.  After three hours and many, many stories and catching up, we arrived at our destination.  And it was closed…the flea market is only open on Saturday and Sunday because each vendor takes their own money.  We were so excited and were planning a trip back on Saturday because they had over 800 booths.  Wow!!!  (Don’t plan the trip just for that ~ unless you need tube socks, cheap jewelry, or tools.  Sadly, we learned the 800 booths are full of “made in China” items.  How can they have acres of that many different items??  You tell me when you go!)

Still the ever diligent pickers, we knew we would find some good stuff somewhere so drove down the road to Hazel’s place.  Dotty had passed this gem on a previous leisure trip to Watts Bar Nuclear Laboratories…don’t ask.  I have to apologize for not taking any pics at Hazel’s.  And there are really no words.  She told us her story and walked us around the property.  She was really impressed that we were girls driving a truck.  We really felt like the American Pickers, especially when she kept telling us, “Can you give that back to me, I don’t think I can sell that today.  I might use it sometime.”  Sweet Hazel told us that today was her birthday and she was 83 years young.  She proudly explained that she and her grandson had built all the out buildings on the property to house all her goodies.  Imagine the photo below but on a few acres, with a few single wides and sheds, and without sculptures but instead lots of patio furniture and building supplies, and tarp covered spaces. 

scrap yard sample

Her treasures ranged from building materials to home décor to collectibles and even artwork – but mostly stored outside in the weather, and showed it.  We were privileged enough to tour one of the buildings, which would make Linda Dorland proud.  If any of you know her, then you’ll get it.  It was floor to ceiling deep with anything from guitars to kitchen scales to collectible toys.  Too bad she couldn’t let anything go.  A true hoarder at heart, she knew that she would one day use each and every item she had stored in there.  It made me want to go home right away and clean my house!  But I didn’t…because all my stuff is really good and one day I will really use each and every item.  Smile  Ha ha!!  We were able to pry a few treasures from her – boards, piece of a metal door, a couple of bottles, a pair of red velvet mid century lamp shades, and some home interior wall plaques.

Our stop at Hazel’s led to our second adventure ~ the Saw Mill. I know, just what you’re thinking, every girl’s dream stop??  But I had gotten a long piece of board from Hazel – just sure I could make a sign out of it.  It proved too long for the truck and was flapping around – even after I had expertly tied it down (or not).  Ugh!! What to do, what to do?!  I remembered we had passed a saw mill and I had a thought…  Who would have a saw but A saw mill?!!!  So we pull in, just like we owned the place (we were in a truck after all).  I want to go to the office and ask, but Carol spots a worker walking to his truck and flags him down.  I’m already in the office explaining our dilemma about the long board to the two ladies in the office.  I get “the look” and they’re just not buying into the sweet talking I’m trying to pull over on them in any way, shape or form.  I’m sure they thought we were silly city girls.  The office manager lady gruffly explained that “they don’t have any saws here, they just have chain saws and can’t help us”.  Whatever!!  I’m sure she never imagined we would do what we did…

I’m on my way out the door to the truck and what do I see?!!  Carol sweet talking the worker, AND we’re on our way into the mill so he can help us out.  My friend Cindy Chafin would be yelling SERIAL KILLER ALERT about now and imagining us buried in that saw dust pile… Smile  Well, the board got cut and we were on our way to the historic downtown Sweetwater Antique strip!  Take that office manager…HA!

lumber milllumber mill 2saw dust

Downtown Sweetwater feels just like being transported to Mayberry!  Small town friendly with a train car and everything.  I had been here a few years before with the fabulous Cancer Queens! ~ a cancer education entertainment group.  We performed for a portion of the county’s high school teachers in-service training (great folks) and they took us out to lunch at Hunter's Bakery and Café.  I highly recommend it!  If you can’t have a meal, at least stop by for a great cookie or two.  The baked goods are so yummy!!

Sweetwater train

When we got to the downtown antique area, our first stop was Cone’s Cupboard Antiques (no website or fb page – sorry!).  It was a quaint little shop, with the real deals in the back of the store.  They have unique pieces of ironstone and a great variety of vintage and antique items ranging from clothing, collectibles, kitchenware, furniture, and jewelry.  Carol scored a vintage wedding dress, and Dotty lucked up on two metal mid century office chairs and a vintage globe.

Side by Hunters

Dotty picking robin's nest ironstone

robins nest ornamentsrobin's nest rocker

Next was Cooney's Corner Antiques and Mick the fabulous doggie mascot! This is a great double building that is two stories with tons of primitives and great one of a kind furniture finds.  The owner has his wonderful german hound, Mick, there to keep him company. 

Cooney's and bobby todd's

cooney primitivescooney's chicken coopcooneys upstairscorbels every where

I saw so many corbels on this trip.  A customer had come into one of the antique malls where I have a space and wanted a matching pair (which I had, but she wanted for nickels)…she needed to come here.  She would be surprised at the prices (not free) and would appreciate the pair I had that were only $90.  Good luck lady!!

Bobby Todd's Antique Store ~ AKA “our favorite store” !!

Bobby Todd’s is a great mix of antiques and gift items.  We LOVED it!!!  It is a definite must stop if you’re in town, just to get ideas if nothing else.  He is the best decorator and every holiday is a different design, so the store changes frequently!

bobby todd counterbobby's pine conesbobby's window

These giant pinecones are all the rage this winter thanks to pinterest!

Main Street Antique Mall (facebook page only) was our last stop before heading home.  It took the longest to peruse – three huge levels chock full of goodies.  Everything and anything you could imagine and all price ranges.  Mid-century to modern to antiques and vintage.

main street upstairs

main street antiquesmy treasuremain street fursmain street twister

Carol’s favorite finds are always linens, vintage wedding dresses, and furs.  Dotty’s fav’s are always mid-century items.  And she was speechless (which is hard to imagine) when she found her 60s edition of Twister ~ and with all pieces there!!

We loaded up (after buying some rope that was oddly enough for sale at Cooney’s Antique store)…we haven’t yet mastered packing the truck.  But it all made it back safely to Nashville, so I guess that’s all that counts.

truck treasures

We stopped for a bite to eat on our way out of town at Bradley’s BBQ.  Great atmosphere with a fireplace and everything.  Great veggies too.  Remember these pics were from the end of the trip (so my hair reflects it…).

bradley's bbq


chattanooga traffic

Lots of traffic on the way through Chattanooga, but we were given a fabulous sunset.  Great friends, great conversation, and great adventures ~ what more can you ask for…more great treasures??  Or that my two picker friends at least learn a few of the great country music stars that actually live in Nashville…Gary Allen, Zac Brown, Rodney Adkins, and Jennifer Nettles just to name a few. ARRGGHHH!

Thanks for enjoying the journey to Sweetwater with us!



  1. Wow!!! What an adventure, picker ladies!!!!!!!! Little Hazel............I am sure she WILL use each and every item she has on her property. As to the Saw Mill?!? Well, duh! Serial Killer victim magnet! What a story! This blog got my day off to a great start. Felt like I was right there with ya'll! :))

    1. Thanks Crazy Cat Lady!! You would have had a great time at the saw mill and at Hazel's. My first thought was the junk yard queen story...this could have all been yours. Millipedes included! :)

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