Starting on the downtown square, High Cotton Vintage Home Furnishings (213 N Spring St., Manchester; 931-723-0011) is one of the most popular places to shop in Manchester, and with good reason—it filled a much-needed void, providing the surrounding area with a high-end boutique specializing in women’s wear and home décor. You’ll find contemporary dresses and tops, jewelry from a number of Tennessee designers, pillows and other whimsical home accents in addition to intoxicating scented candles, and large-format angel paintings. Though the store’s stock changes often—you can get a feel for its offerings via High Cotton’s Facebook page, which is updated frequently to reflect current inventory—one constant fixture is the handmade cotton wreaths owners Lynn Jarrell and Allison Jarrell Dotson craft themselves.
There’s a newly installed dessert counter in the front of the restaurant that’s full of baked goods prepared daily, ranging from cookies and brownies to homemade whoopie pies and fried apple pies.
While you’re on the square, stop in at The Mercantile Café (100 W Fort St., Manchester; 931-723-2491), a former antiques store that was converted to a Southern-style, meat-and-three lunch spot (it also serves a mean Sunday brunch and decadent Friday night fish fry). The restaurant uses locally-sourced ingredients, such as pork from nearby Weaver Farms, and the menu changes daily based on what’s fresh and in season. Think: meatloaf, fried catfish, collard greens, mashed potatoes, the works. If you’re looking to grab a snack to go, there’s a newly installed dessert counter in the front of the restaurant that’s full of baked goods prepared daily, ranging from cookies and brownies to homemade whoopie pies and fried apple pies.
Up the way on exit 105, Shelton Lane Antiques (100 Shelton Ln., Manchester; 931-728-5525) is a destination in itself, located at the end of a long pear tree-lined driveway and situated on a sprawling property complete with a 10-foot waterfall, which Harold and Ruby Shelton transformed into a multi-building antiques stores more than a decade ago. Gas station signs and old pumps greet visitors as they approach, and the 5,000-square-foot store is chock full of 8,900 curiosities like a 1800s fire department call box, a marlin mount from the Mandrell family and a clock commissioned by Conway Twitty himself for his mansion, Twitty City. Among other things, the Sheltons specialize in kitchenware, knives, signage, furniture and hard-to-find items; they also boast a collection of 3,000 vintage records in a separate structure in the back of the main shop.
Off the same exit as Shelton Lane Antiques, you’ll also pass Madeline’s Antiques & Uniques (6107 Murfreesboro Hwy., Manchester; 931-723-8013). Open seven days a week other than major holidays, Madeline Kemp’s traditional antiques mall houses a number of different vendors’ booths and an overwhelming supply of wares; old record players, cherry red Coke machines, vintage luggage, Americana kitsch mingle with tribal masks, stained glass, oil paintings, china, oak furniture and other collectors’ items. Twice a year—once in late spring, once in early fall—Madeline’s holds one big three-day yard sale open to all.
Be sure to stop into Foothills Crafts Shop, a brightly lit, juried and curated non-profit that features all local artists and some of the finest small craft in the region!
Coffee County’s other major city, Tullahoma is located just 15 minutes off of the interstate along Highway 55. As you reach the downtown area where South Jackson and West Lincoln streets intersect, you’ll see a number of small antique shops populating the old-fashioned storefronts. One of the best selections can be found at Memories Antiques, a bi-level Mecca for collectibles and vintage goods with booths and trinkets galore. For a wider selection of locally-made artisan items, head over to the Coker Building, where you’ll find everything from candles at Beaucoup and goat’s milk soap from Linda’s Boutique to tie-dyed women’s clothing from Boheme Becky’s and fashionable fedoras courtesy of Just Hats. For those looking for Tullahoma-themed gifts, head to No Place Like Tullahoma (also one of the Merchants at Coker), which stocks wooden signs, ornaments, T-shirts, baseball caps, bottle openers and more, all bearing the area code.
Woodbury + Smithville
Situated 25 miles off of I-24 in the opposite direction of Tullahoma, Cannon County is rife in folk art thanks to the burgeoning The Arts Center of Cannon County (1424 John Bragg Hwy., Woodbury; 615-563-2787), which not only serves as Woodbury’s resident community theater, but also has a museum, gallery and craft shop that sells the wares of many local artisans, like white oak baskets, hand-painted ceramic bowls, wooden carvings and glass jewelry of all shape and size.
As you leave the arts center, detour to Woodbury’s old-timey square, brimming with antique malls like the Old Feed Store (310 W. Water St., Woodbury; 615-563-2108), Iron Pig Antiques (103 N Cannon St., Woodbury; 615-563-5375) and Lynn’s Pickett Fence (203 Main St., Woodbury; 615-563-1222). Further out in Smithville, Appalachian Center for Craft (1560 Craft Center Dr., Smithville; 931-372-3051) is a campus for Tennessee Tech that offers a number of different immersive experiences surrounding clay, metals, fibers, glass and wood. It also hosts regular exhibits, artist talks, workshops and live music performances in addition to summer classes like glass-blowing and blacksmithing for teens during the school break.
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