Tennessee Antique Trail: Nashville, Lebanon, & Cookeville

I follow every backroad and freeway to see where they lead
And I look to the pages learned people read
I look at all the flea market uniquities and antiques,
And the things they’re liquidating at the chains and boutiques...    -- Amy Sell

Under beautiful sunny spring skies, we spent last weekend on a treasure hunting road trip across middle Tennessee. The jumping off point of our trip was the monthly Nashville Flea Market.

Vintage Signs at the Nashville Flea Market
Vintage Signs at the Nashville Flea Market
Beautifully restored mid century furniture at the Nashville Flea Market
Beautifully restored mid century furniture at the Nashville Flea Market

After laying our eyes upon the hundreds of antiques booths, we were asking ourselves why on earth we never made the 2-hour trek to attend this market before?!

Southwestern portrait and early Eames LCM chair at the Nashville Flea Market
Southwestern portrait and early Eames LCM chair
Russel Wright metal patio chairs with bird stencil detail at the Nashville Flea Market
Russel Wright metal patio chairs with bird stencil detail

There are a lot of antique booths inside, so even on weekends when the weather isn’t so great, one can still treasure hunt in relative comfort. (We found that the better deals were found outside though).

Indoor booth with huge collection of vintage toy trucks at Nashville Flea Market
Indoor booth with huge collection of vintage toy trucks
Thousands of great tiny items at this indoor booth at the Nashville Flea Market
Thousands of great tiny items at this indoor booth

Our search focused on typewriters and home decor (smalls), of which there was plenty to choose from.

The only interesting well-priced typewriters that we found at the flea were actually TOO nice. This dealer’s entire inventory consisted of beautifully cleaned up typewriters and his film photography. How fun to meet a fellow analog lover! The dealer’s typewriter prices were very reasonable, and I’m sure that he sold many typewriters to happy Nashvillians over the weekend.

A plethora of nice vintage typewriters & film photography portraits at the Nashville Flea Market
A plethora of nice vintage typewriters & film photography portraits!

Due to our current lack of storage space for inventory, we were being extra choosy about our purchases, and we only came away with about a dozen items for the shop. Were we not in the middle of a move (with all of our stuff currently in storage), I would have purchased a few things for our own home.

Huge mystery animal skull. Texas longhorn maybe?
Huge mystery animal skull. Texas longhorn maybe?
Unusual mid century chairs (designer unknown) at Nashville Flea Market
Unusual mid century chairs (designer unknown)

For instance, I’d been eyeing the 70’s era painting shown below  – a gent’s self portrait in the mirror – for the random portraits wall that I’ve been talking about doing for years. I was so surprised to see the painting here in Nashville, because I’d first spotted it at Dirty Jane’s Antiques in Chattanooga.

70's Self portrait painting at Nashville Flea Market
Awesome 70’s Self-portrait painting at the Nashville Flea Market

I still didn’t pull the trigger on the painting, but was further tempted by about 30 pieces in this dealer’s booth. I wanted to buy everything and re-do my entire house! While I was walking through this booth, a hip-well-dressed young professional bought a 36″ round Eames conference table for $125. A deal! I will be keeping a closer eye on this dealer’s booth at Dirty Jane’s. He has a great eye for funky mid century pieces.

Vintage clothing at Pre To Post Modern in Nashville
Vintage clothing at Pre To Post Modern

Just a few blocks from the Nashville Fairgrounds, where the flea is held, we checked out a few shops on 8th Avenue in the Woodland-In-Waverly neighborhood. It has been a few years since we’ve shopped this area, and although the home decor selection of furniture and smalls at our go-to store Pre To Post Modern was a little sparse, the 8th Avenue Antique Mall more than made up for it.

Mid century furniture and posters at 8th Avenue Antique Mall in Nashville
Mid century furniture and posters at 8th Avenue Antique Mall
Pulp posters and magazines at 8th Avenue Antique Mall
Pulp posters and magazines at 8th Avenue Antique Mall
Even more mid century decor at 8th Avenue Antique Mall in Nashville
Even more mid century decor at 8th Avenue Antique Mall

Again, we didn’t come away with much, but it’s one of the most fun antique malls we’ve ever walked through, and we’ll be back soon. The focus is definitely mid century here, and we found prices to be quite reasonable.

Next door to Pre-to-Post-Modern is shop that opened since we were last antiquing in Nashville: Classic Modern. This store sells mostly vintage modern furniture pieces and home decor with a few new pieces thrown in to the mix. The owner was really fun to visit with, and I absolutely fell in love with her sweet dog LaRue.

Sweet Pup at Classic Modern
Sweet Pup at Classic Modern

Reluctantly we left Nashville around 3pm because traffic was already getting bad, and headed east toward Lebanon, where we camped at Cedars of Lebanon State Park for the night. As we left the next morning, we spied a flea market practically across the street from the entrance to the park.  This was a full-on flea market without any good vintage stuff to be found, rather it was full of vendors selling used tools & small appliances and cheap new products. I’ve never before been to a flea market with livestock for sale. It made me a bit sad, and I really wanted to set these sweet little goats free.

Caged Goats at Lebanon area flea market
Set me free!

A 15-minute drive north into downtown Lebanon, we found a cute historic downtown area with several antique malls and stores. Again, we did not buy much but enjoyed the experience. I was excited to see the Needful Things storefront and hope that this modern shop is opening soon (the sign and window decals look new). I do love a mid century shop!

Needful Things Lebanon storefront
Needful Things Lebanon storefront

An hour east via I-40, there were a few antique malls in Cookeville worth visiting.

Cookeville Tennessee Antique Mall
Cookeville Antique Mall conveniently located off I-40
Navajo pots at Treasures Antique Mall in Cookeville, Tennessee
Navajo pots at Treasures Antique Mall

I’ve been on the hunt for southwestern pottery lately, and it’s pretty hard to find in my neck of the woods. This booth in Treasures Antique Mall had some pretty Navajo pots, but they were too pricey for my budget.

Jones Antiques in Cookeville, Tennessee
Jones Antiques in Cookeville

One Cookeville shop that we keep coming back to is Jones Antiques, located across from the courthouse in the downtown square. The store is high-end, and filled with interesting pieces from all over the world. If you are on the hunt for unique pieces for your home (or if you’re a designer, for a client’s home), Jones Antiques is well worth the detour off I-40.

We continued east to Crossville to camp in view of the Cumberland Mountains for the night. There are not a lot of places to hunt for vintage stuff in Crossville, although we do always stop at the Antique Village Mall when we are in town. On Sunday morning we went to the Crossville Flea Market, but found it to be junkier than ever. We probably won’t be back for antique hunting, but may come in the warmer season to buy plants or local Mennonite honey and jam.

Two 70's classics: Maskatron and SPAM
Two 70’s classics: Maskatron and SPAM

I will leave you with a shot of us goofing off at camp with one of our Nashville flea market finds: the Six Million Dollar Man Steve Austin’s nemesis Maskatron.

P.S. Please don’t judge me for eating SPAM. It’s one of our campground cooking guilty pleasures, and SPAM fried rice with pineapple is delicious (just ask the Hawaiians!) We make ours with brown rice and quinoa so it’s “healthy”. Ha!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s