Peanut Shop of Knoxville Set to Open Next Week

The Peanut Shop of Knoxville, 23 Market Square, March 2013

The Peanut Shop of Knoxville, 23 Market Square, March 2013

Julie Mullins, the manager and John Nolan, assistant manager of the new Peanut Shop at 23 Market Square graciously allowed me to take a few photographs while they talked about the new business. I found them dressed in work clothes and frantically trying to unbox, sort and arrange merchandise. The store was beginning to take shape, but still had a way to go. Each of them knows a bit about Knoxville. John lives with his wife in North Knoxville while Ms. Mullins lives just south of the city and has memories of downtown that go back to earlier incarnations in the 1970s with Watsons, Millers and other bygone landmarks.

The Peanut Shop of Knoxville, 23 Market Square, March 2013

The Peanut Shop of Knoxville, 23 Market Square, March 2013

As you can see in the pictures, there are approximately three million varieties of peanuts. It’s a rough estimate on my part, but there are peanuts flavored and spiced in just about as many ways as you could imagine. Some of the products offered are specialty products such as those in the pink containers from which part of the proceeds goes to fighting breast cancer. Others are more novelty, like the peanut characters for $6.99 which portray different types of work in a humorous way. Gift baskets will be offered and will no doubt be popular.

The Peanut Shop of Knoxville, 23 Market Square, March 2013

John Nolan and Julie Mullins, The Peanut Shop of Knoxville, 23 Market Square, March 2013

The Peanut Shop of Knoxville, 23 Market Square, March 2013

The Peanut Shop of Knoxville, 23 Market Square, March 2013

In some smaller way, the store may fit into the downtown food environment by offering pasta, sauces, ham (pictured here) and other foods. For the most part, however, the store is directed toward gifts and visitors to downtown who might drop in to find a snack to enjoy while walking about.

The Peanut Shop of Knoxville, 23 Market Square, March 2013

The Peanut Shop of Knoxville, 23 Market Square, March 2013

It’s interesting to note that of all of the other locations have one thing in common. Can you guess what it is? The other locations include Williamsburg, VA, Charleston, S.C., Savannah, GA and (soon to open), Gatlinburg, TN. Of course, it’s tourism being their life-blood. This made me wonder, “Why Knoxville?” The assistant manager acknowledged that it is a different kind of market. He referred to Knoxville’s situation as “event-based tourism.” It’s true if you look at the string of festivals about to explode into downtown: many people do visit the city, but it is for events, not so much as a matter of course.

The Peanut Shop of Knoxville, 23 Market Square, March 2013

The Peanut Shop of Knoxville, 23 Market Square, March 2013

I think I was hoping they might try to convince me that the company views Knoxville as an up-and-coming tourist destination, but that isn’t obviously true. In a way, the Knoxville store is an experiment for the company to see the reaction of a non-tourist city to their stores. I’ve heard various opinions as to how the store will do on Market Square, but I think it will be a fun addition. I can easily see buying gifts there and our out-of-town visitors will, I suspect, take some home.

I believe the plan is to open around next Tuesday, though that might change a bit one way or the other. Go in and take a look around. I think you’ll like it. Also, if any of you would like part-time work, they are looking to hire at least a couple of people for 10 to 20 hours a week (595-0122).

Comments

  1. A welcome addition to Downtown! Looking forward to shopping here.

  2. I’m surprised they don’t use “the Peanut Shop of Williamsburg” as the name for all their shops. Williamsburg has a certain style to it.

    I think they’ll do okay here — college parents, football and basketball fans, concert goers, and festival goers should keep them going if their prices aren’t outrageous.

  3. I’m really excited about this store because I love peanuts. But please don’t think buying pink peanuts will help fight cancer unless the owners can give you the percentage of profit and where it goes. Pinkwashing doesn’t help.

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says:

      I didn’t ask the percentage, I just trusted what they said. I didn’t have any reason to think they wrapped the nuts in pink paper and lied to make more money. Should I have been suspicious?

  4. Not to be unkind, but always be suspicious of pink washing (http://thinkbeforeyoupink.org/?page_id=13)

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says:

      Who knew? I guess it makes sense because breast cancer has become such a ubiquitous cause that someone would try to scam it. According to their website they make a donation to the National Breast Cancer Foundation when you buy a can. It doesn’t give more details than that. I’m not sure how deep people will dig to make sure that money is really going to a cause. They could buy another can and KNOW that none of it is going to a cause, or buy the pink can and hope some of it will be going to a helpful place. Still, your point is a good one: One should check these sorts of things out.

  5. John Nolan says:

    I have to stipulate that first, I am an employee of Smithfield Specialty Foods Group, and the Assistant Manager of the Knoxville store mentioned in this article. My comments are not necessarily the views of my company. With that out of the way, here I go:

    First, the article’s author is correct. We are excited to open on Tuesday, April 2nd. In addition, to answer the Breast Cancer donation comment and as far as we know, any of the “pink cans” purchased will have a portion of their proceeds donated to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. As for percentages and other numbers, I can’t say for sure.

    Second, I am a Knoxville resident of almost eight years, and haven’t had much personal experience downtown. I’ve been overwhelmed in my lunch breaks and visitations of the area to see how much work is being put into revitalize the downtown area. While I don’t think that Knoxville is your traditional tourist destination, I’ll be the first to say that this city has been constantly changing over the past several years I’ve been here. I hope, along with the author, that we see a considerable change in the tourist traffic and activity in the whole of Knoxville.

    Finally, I just want to thank everyone, including the author, and the readership, for their support of the store and our opening downtown. Everywhere I go and I mention that we are opening, everyone is very supportive and excited to hear about our progress. I’ve never seen a more closely knit area than the residents of Downtown Knoxville, and look forward to be part of the workforce in this exciting area!

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