Antique Mall Outlet


When it gets so hot in the Lowcountry that even the Palmetto Bugs are toting little spray water bottles with a fan attached, the only option left is to pack up and head to the mountains.  So we did just that a few weeks ago.  Having forgotten just how high the mercury rises during a Charleston summer (flashback to the old cartoon thermometer bursting), we didn’t realize what a welcome relief our mountain trip would turn out to be.

The Great One loves to orchestrate group vacations – maybe he should have gone into hospitality.  (It’s still not too late, Randini, so say those AARP Life Reimagined/Second Act articles.)  After hours surfing the web for just the right mountain rental and a lengthy e-mail chain gathering input, his plan was set.  We settled on Sevierville, Tennessee.  The pictures were gorgeous, the home was available and schedules were coordinated – at least we thought they were. 

When Eric changed jobs earlier in the year, we were afraid he might have an issue, but luckily he was able to negotiate his time off.  Sara, on the other hand, landed a summer job with the First Tee program, which meant she had no time off for a vacation.  So we were down to just six. 

Traffic was moving right along, until we hit Hendersonville NC.  It was so slow, that the Great One and I pulled into the parking lot of Needful Things a gigantic antique/vintage mall just off Interstate 26 in Hendersonville.  We figured if we were going to have to wait on traffic to clear up, we might as well enjoy it.  Little did we know that the traffic we pulled out of was as good as it was going to get on a Saturday, in the summer, up in the mountains.  While we enjoyed ourselves picking, the traffic continued to creep spending more time at a standstill than moving at a snail’s pace and welcomed us back into the long, slow line with a “thought y’all were so smart smile” emanating from every vehicle as far as the eye could see.  Of course, we had found just a few things we couldn’t leave behind so it was well worth the stop.

Eric and Kayla, leaving from Charlotte, had a shorter trip and arrived first.  We were still inching our way along when they called stating that the pictures we had shared looked nothing like the house they found at the address we gave them.  They were wondering how in the world this tiny little home housed 5 bedrooms, 5 ½ bathrooms, a game room, a media room, a kitchen and a great room with a fireplace.  There was no sign of the balconies, porches or the hot tub.  But more perplexing, there were 2 vehicles already parked in the driveway and neither one belonged to any of us.  As it turned out, the vehicles belonged to the cleaning crew and once through the doorway, like the Tardis, the house magically opened up to its full potential, exactly as advertised.

It was a fast but enjoyable week.  We did some touristy things – taking in Dolly Parton’s Lumberjack Adventure dinner show and strolling the main drag in Gatlinburg.  Jonathan, Joanna, Eric and Kayla went kayaking.  Eric and Kayla went hiking.  Jonathan and Joanna went picking with us and also headed off on a hunt of their own following the Arts and Crafts Community Trail.  The pool table in the game room saw a lot of action, the media room was put to good use, the arcade video game had some new high scores set and we even washed and dried a few clothes – didn’t want that washer and dryer to feel neglected.  We never did make it to the hot tub, but we did plenty of eating and drinking and oh yes, Margaritas (among other adult beverages) were involved. 

Packing up Saturday morning, we headed home following a more circuitous and less traveled route, just perfect for picking and procrastinating.  Is anyone ever in a hurry to re-enter the realms of reality?

Winding (and I do mean winding) our way through Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia and South Carolina, we came across Bryant’s Antique & Unique in Franklin, North Carolina.  We can honestly say we have no regrets taking the time to stop and visit with Erik and Sarah Bryant and their little bundle of joy.  Their shop is not filled with the run of the mill items you see everywhere else.  They stay true to the “unique” in their name.  We found a vintage “Lego System by Samsonite” set and an ERTL Corvette die-cast metal model.   American Pickers, Mike and Frank have said more than once that we will regret those things we leave behind and we certainly do.  We should have bought that label printing machine that kept nipping at our ankles and the Beatles pin that kept singing out our names.  Looks like we're going to need to head back that way.