This is the first post in a two part blog about my road trip to vend at Chatty Crafty in Chattanooga, Tennessee back in April of this year. I made a couple of stops along the way and took so many photos, I had to separate it into two posts- it would have been too much of a visual overload! Anyhow, begin part one: I set sail in my little two-door nugget car on Wednesday, April 18th and headed to my first stop in Durham, NC. Remember my friend Oates, the guy who got the perm on Jimmy Fallon? Well, he’s still kickin’ it in North Carolina (sans perm), so he showed me around town and I met some of his band buddies from Shit! That’s Ironical. Our first destination- Motorco Music Hall, a young music venue/bar in a converted garage in the Central Park district of Durham.
Motorco was great- full of friendly people and a delicious beer selection. Bonus- the night I showed up, !!! (chk chk chk) was playing in the main room! Anyhow, it’s a fun find if you’re in Durham- definitely check it out. The next day, Oates showed me around town; we started with an amazing lunch at another newer Durham locale called Bull City Burger and Brewery.
In addition to their fun pub ambiance, delicious beverages, and commitment to locally sourced food, I enjoyed the best burger I’ve ever eaten, no joke. It was the perfect ratio of burger to topping to bun and every aspect was cooked to perfection. I’m drooling just thinking about it right now . . . I loved it so much I would even consider being a part of their tattoo program . . . if only I lived closer.
Durham is also home to some great old signs and the old Lucky Strike factory/water tower- naturally, I spent some time with my Polaroid cameras and Instagram app documenting my favorite aspects. I included some photos here- you can check out more on my flickr.
After lunch and a short tour, I continued westward to see my friend Shawn in Knoxville, TN. I arrived kind of late, so I didn’t get to see much of the town that night. We did enjoy dinner at Soccer Taco in Market Square, a bustling downtown square in the heart of Knoxville. The next morning, Shawn’s rescued boxer Bob didn’t want to see me leave:
After some forlorn pets on the head goodbye, I headed back into downtown Knoxville. One of the major reasons I stopped in Knoxville (other than saying “hey” to Shawn) was to visit Yee Haw Industries, one of my favorite letterpress companies. They travel to many of the shows I do, but also have a storefront in Knoxville; I knew seeing their home-base would be a totally unique experience! My timing couldn’t have been better- just a week after my visit, Kevin Bradley and Julie Belcher scheduled to shut their doors after 15 years on South Gay Street and work on their own, separate, endeavors. While in there, many locals came in to express their sympathies- it’s nice to know that despite their closing, the town really did appreciate the work that they did. Their storefront was awesome:
The Yee Haw store was an amazing visual print-nerd overload. I got to spend some serious quality time with their racks and racks of prints. I fell in love with some of their monoprints, but they were way out of my price range- so I settled on these uniquely shaped carved guitar prints. I can’t wait to frame them!
After spending wayyyy too much time in Yee Haw, I headed back to Market Square to check out a store that had piqued my interest the evening before. Bliss Home (and the Bliss boutique across the way) were my shopping dreams come true. Bliss Home was akin to an independent Anthropologie, complete with mini home settings, unique wall art, and other funky domestic finds. I fell in love with their reclaimed wooden furniture- I snapped some photos with my phone, but they didn’t come out great. I did come home with these adorable owl planters- they are now homes to my basil and chive plants:
The “Mr. and Mrs.” card came from their sister store across the way, simply named Bliss. It’s made by smock. a letterpress company based out of upstate New York. The pack of thank you cards to the left came from a cute custom design studio I happened upon, just outside of Market Square. I met Ty Pattison, one half of the studio The Happy Envelope, and he told me all about his and his wife Sarah’s custom invitation endeavors. The work they had hanging throughout the storefront was beautiful- very inspiring. Check out this diagram about typography they had displayed:
I didn’t get to take any photos of it, but I also checked out a great store packed with handmade goodies called rala - the store was also just off Market Square. It seems Market Square is definitely the place to be in Knoxville!
After a morning of retail therapy, I hopped on Route 40 to head to Chattanooga. Google maps recommended taking the interstate all the way to Chattanooga, but I decided to head down a state route to see if there was anything cool to document. My route took me through Rockwood, TN, a small town bursting with antique stores. I checked out a few and happened upon some amazing finds- how cool are these vintage designs? The last photo is of a collection of holiday cards by a crafty family named the Colburns- each card is a handprinted block print featuring a holiday image.
I came home with another fabric calendar, some sweet old photos (you can see some if you click on the flickr link I mentioned previously in this post), an old window for my booth, and a sewing ottoman that I’ve also begun using in my booth setup.
After my antique-ing adventures, I rolled into Chattanooga just in time to set up for the Chatty Crafty show- Lynda Buckels, the organizer, allowed all the vendors to set up the night before the sh0w. Amazing! The show was held right on the waterfront, next to the state aquarium. Setup went off without a hitch, so afterwards I headed into town to find dinner. I ended up at the Big River Grille & Brewing Works. One of the perks about traveling alone- no waiting in line at restaurants! I got to sit immediately at the bar and chowed down on an amazing pasta dish. Afterwards, I enjoyed a cupcake dessert across the street at GiGi’s Cupcakes, a mobile cupcake bakery. Onwards to my hostel . . .
The Chatty Crafty organizers recommended The Crash Pad hostel to the out of town vendors. I’ve generally had great luck with hostels, home and abroad, so I was optimistic- The Crash Pad managed to exceed my expectations.
Located in the Southside neighborhood, this pristine lodging facility boasts an outdoor fire pit, full kitchen, individual bunks in addition to private rooms, a six-toed cat, and the majority of their fixtures are locally sourced. The location is ideal- ample parking, yet close to Chattanooga’s free downtown electric shuttle. They love to cater to the rock climbing community in the area, but are super friendly and welcoming to any traveler passing through- most of their staff even came to Chatty Crafty! This was where I stayed- a private bunk, complete with a lamp and a fan.
Alright, time to end post one- post two will be all about my experience at Chatty Crafty and all of the talented artists and crafters I encountered! Stay tuned- part two of my trip to Tennessee will be published tomorrow; it includes features on many of the participating artists at April’s Chatty Crafty event!