A new store opened last week in the Old City at 111 N. Central Street inside the same building as the Melting Pot. Featuring “upscale home decor at a competitive price,” the store sits on the northern edge of the Old City, just across the tracks from the soon-to-be-available apartments at the White Lily Building. Just across the street the old Patrick Sullivan’s location has been beautifully renovated and appears to be ready for a new occupant.
There are a couple of other locations of Mango’s Decor and Company. One opened in Chattanooga a couple of months ago and another at 309 S. Northshore in west Knoxville, opened in February. The one on Northshore is owned by Jennifer Smelser who co-owns the Central Street Location with Shawn Wise.
I met Shawn on a beautiful Knoxville afternoon and a week into the new store’s operations she was still unpackaging lamp shades and other pieces for her floor samples. She said it is like Christmas every day as new merchandise arrives for the new store. And Christmas has arrived, as well, as some Christmas decor is already in evidence. A large Christmas tree sits decorated and waiting hopefully beside the counter.
The counter itself is a story, as it was harvested from the soon-to-be re-developed John H. Daniel Building. Both buildings are owned by John Clark. Shawn was working for him when she first noticed the space she now occupies. She encouraged him to lease it to someone, but only after working Saturdays for her friend Jennifer at the west location of Mango’s did she consider leasing it herself. Matching up her love for home decor with this appealing space seemed like a perfect idea.
She took an unlikely path to this point. She grew up on the move as a part of a military family before landing in north Knox County where she’s now lived for over thirty-five years. She worked for many years as a management consultant for a medical company. After he experience in home decor retail, she quit her long-term job to open the new store. She said her husband, who works with the Knox Country Sheriff’s department has been very supportive of the venture.
The name of the store is derived from the fact that the wood used in making the furniture is harvested from the Mango tree. It’s actually an ecologically sound wood to use. The mango tree grows to sixty to one hundred feet tall. Growth stops at about twenty years and it stops producing fruit. Mango farmers in the past cut down the trees and let them rot while new trees were planted. Now the wood is used, meaning it doesn’t rot (which produces carbon dioxide), farmers have another source of income and endangered wood like teak is saved from being harvested in the wild. It is also a very durable wood.
The store has a large selection of furniture and all the fabric on the furniture is made in the U.S. by the Mayo Furniture Company in Texas. A number of pieces can be personalized with different stains on the woods and other variations to suit the customer. The furniture and accessories represent a range of styles, many of which were selected with an urban aesthetic in mind. The store shares space in the building with the Melting Pot, Garrett Manry Massage Studio, and Fitness Studio 111. Their hours are Noon – 7:00 PM Monday through Friday and 10:00 AM – 7:00 PM on Saturday. Check them out and tell Shawn you read it here.