Whitesburg, a town of about 600 people in Carroll County, is one community that is benefitting from this craze for things old and valuable.
“Years ago, people did antiquing in big city antique malls,” said Jonathan Dorsey, executive director of the Carrollton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Now, they’re going out into the country to look for good buys. Whitesburg is a prime example of a little town where you can find big treasurers. TV shows like ‘American Picker’ have spurred people to see what they can find. It’s become a hobby, bordering on a sport, as people try to find the best deals. It’s definitely a big part of our tourism market.”
April Thurman at Antiqueloco, 680 Main St., Whitesburg, has seen the antiques market grow first hand.
“I was born in the business,” Thurman said. “My mother and grandmother were in the business. We’ve had booths since the 1990s and have been doing shows for more than 10 years.”
Thurman said she and her husband, Charlie, decided to open the Whitesburg shop three years ago.
“July 1 will be our official third-year anniversary,” she said. “We specialize in Southern primitive. We have one-of-a-kind, handmade pieces of furniture or housewares, made in the South from the late 1800s through the turn of the 20th Century.”
She said another aspect of their business is known as “re-purposing.” She said it includes such things as taking exterior items, redoing them and using them for interior decorations. It can include items, such as ornate iron from a garden, that is moved indoors or an old metal shop table that is converted into a kitchen table.
“That’s where the antique market is now,” Thurman said. “Antiquing is more about decor and redecorating. It’s not as much about value anymore, but about being in fashion, in vogue.”
She said visitors to Antiqueloco come from many distant places and often find her shop as they come to events at Banning Mill. They stop in the town on the way through. However, the bulk of her business comes from Carroll, Coweta and Douglas counties.
“Our prices are very, very fair,” Thurman said. “We have really neat stuff, in-style stuff you see on TV, but we don’t have big-city prices.”
Antiqueloco is open Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Jason Griffith, who owns Mommanims Attic, 691 Main St., Whitesburg, got into the business in an unusual way.
The store name reflects an old Southern acronym, “Momma ‘Nim,” generally interpreted to mean “mother and them, the rest of the family.”
Griffith said his business started when his grandmother went into assisted living and gave him the task of getting rid of her furniture. His mother and aunt downsized and moved from their homes and left more goods to be sold.
“I was without a job, and I decided a store would be a perfect place to sell the goods,” he said. “People kept giving me stuff as they were moving.”
He opened the store on Nov. 1, 2011. His wares include his grandfather’s farm equipment, plows, horse harnesses and bridles, an 1896 corn sheller, old dishes, bookshelves, Coca-Cola collectibles and other items.
“We also sell fresh fruits and vegetables from the porch,” he said. “That brings people into the house, and they buy stuff.”
Griffith said at the moment, the store is only open from Wednesday through Saturday, but he has hired a new employee and beginning next week, the store will be open Monday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. His phone number is 678-633-8667.
He said the current TV reality show craze has helped his business tremendously.
“We have a lot of people coming through Whitesburg, and they stop at my store,” he said. “They go from store to store, get back in their car and leave.”
Pop’s Smokehouse, Grill and Antiques, 665 Main St., Whitesburg, sounds like a strange combination of businesses. However, owner Mike Pate said he designed it around another successful business marketing model: Cracker Barrel restaurants.
“This is my granddaddy’s old building, built in 1929,” Pate said of the location. “I had an opportunity to buy it, and I’ve been restoring it.”
He said food is something he’s always enjoyed and previously had a small food trailer in Whitesburg. His current business is a drive-through and take-out food business, featuring all fresh goods.
“Everything we do is fresh and not frozen,” Pate said. “We have a smokehouse out back where the cooking is done. We have barbecued pork, handmade grilled hamburgers, quarter-pound hot dogs, with our own homemade chili and cole slaw. We also do grilled chicken and chicken sandwiches. We even have a taco salad. All is made fresh.”
Pate said the kitchen is in a back room and he had the whole front open, so he decided to stock it with antiques.
“I like antiques and making things and re-purposing” he said. “I needed another draw, and I’ve always thought Cracker Barrel is a good model.”
Pate said the business is only open Fridays and Saturdays now, but after July 4, it will be open Thursday through Saturday.
My Sister’s Favorite Things, 645 Main St., Whitesburg, deals not in old, but new goods. However, it sells handmade items from local craftspersons.
Sisters Carla Hines Edwards and Tina Hines Lucas opened the business last year on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving.
“My sister started making jewelry years ago,” Lucus said. “She got me started about three years ago. My husband and I both lost our jobs in 2010, so we moved back to Whitesburg, where my father owned some buildings. We decided to build a jewelry shop.”
In addition to handmade jewelry, Lucus said the store now stocks goods from other local artisans, including hand-knitted scarves, lifelike sketches, handmade pillows, handmade hair bows, hand-painted door knobs, jams, jellies, preserves, local honey, digital photography and church fans.
“We’re typically open from Wednesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.,” she said. “We’re having a July promotion, called Christmas in July, and a July 14 Luau Party.”
“The uniqueness of all these shops is what makes them such a tourism attraction,” Dorsey said. “You will never find the same inventory, even in neighboring antique shops. They can be side-by-side and have completely different things. It’s an incentive to visit every one you pass by on the road.”
Antiqueloco can be reached at 678-378-5939, or visit their website at www.antiqueloco.com. Contact Mommanis at 678-633-8667. Pop’s Smokehouse can be reached at 770-550-0866. Contact My Sister’s Favorite Things at 404-308-0002.