When I heard that Nostalgia had opened a new location “just outside the Old City,” I was immediately interested. Exactly where is “just outside the Old City? I got the impression that it sat to the east, so I walked past the James White Parkway, all around the neighborhood of Saw Works Brewing Company. I returned to Jackson and walked a couple more blocks to the east. When I didn’t see any sign of it, I walked back home.
I later learned the walk to Nostalgia is just over 1/2 mile from Barley’s in the Old City. It’s simple enough: walk east on Jackson until you see it on your left. You pass several businesses along the way including Target Tire, Knox Rail Salvage, Lay’s Market, the Buford C. Smith Company and the Larry A. Fleming Operations Center (for KUB). As you reach the Operations Center, you have crested the hill you can see from Barley’s. The road curves slightly and you can see down the hill almost to Nostalgia. The name of the road changes, but you just keep going.
Last week I learned they would have a First Friday event and I determined to make it there. After I walked to the Ely Building and Preservation Pub Annex, I broke one of my weekend rules and got in my car. I decided I was driving to Relix for Waynestock, so I might as well make a couple of other stops along the way. The first was to Nostalgia. I feel fine walking there from downtown, but I’m not sure everyone would agree. I would certainly drive after dark. Their hours are 11:00 AM – 6:00 PM everyday but Sunday (12:00 – 5:00), so they aren’t often opened after dark in any case.
I was familiar with Nostalgia in Homberg and wondered how the two would compare. I was also curious at the decision to open a second store in this particular location. It turns out a second location had been on the mind of the owner for sometime and this location just serendipitously presented itself. They felt it was a fit and opened just a few weeks ago. I’m told there were about 2,000 people present for the grand opening.
There were fewer for the First Friday event, but I found a steady stream coming and going. Once inside, the space seems perfectly fitted for its new use. All things nostalgic may be found with some of the booths studies in themes while others are eclectic to the extreme. Some of the items, such as the iron pictured here or the very cool fez hats, really caught my attention, though I’m not sure what use I would make of either. Central Street Books (which is closing the Central Street storefront) has a healthy collection of vintage books for sale.
There were many vinyl records scattered about, with one very large collection along the back wall supplied by Wild Honey Records which apparently has a shop next door to the other Nostalgia. With Raven Records in Happy Holler, Lost and Found on Broadway, Hot Horse in the Old City and the Disc Exchange carrying records, there are probably more locations to purchase vinyl than at anytime in recent years in Knoxville.
Of course, if you want vintage clothing, this is just about a perfect place. Many, many of the booths offered clothing from various eras starting around the 1980’s (yes, it’s vintage – you are old) and going back for several decades before that. I met one young woman who was just getting her booth going who features dyed vintage slips. I didn’t admit that I missed when slips changed rendering the older ones vintage. Jewelry and other accessories are also plentiful.
There is the danger as you walk around that you may see many items you remember from your youth. It’s not too much of a leap from that point to realizing that means you may be vintage as well. For some of the young people milling about the items represent some sort of retro-cool. For some of us, well, maybe we still have some of those items in our houses or in our closets. It’s all fun either way.
I very much like this as a new downtown business. If you think about the cool days you’ve spent shopping in downtown Asheville, you probably remember looking through some of the antique stores located there. The only question I have is about the location. It isn’t really that far from Saw Works, the Knoxville Opera Company, the Public House and Tennessee Valley Bikes. It’s only about a half mile from the Old City. It’s within easy biking distance of Old North.
Still, it’s a pretty serious half mile that can seem sort of daunting if no one is about. Most of us stop thinking we are downtown once we reach the James White Parkway which is, of course, one of the horrible limiters we’ve placed around the center city. If we stretch the boundaries of downtown, as I hope we will, it, by definition, becomes less walkable, right? So, is this downtown? Is this east Knoxville? Does it matter? Will you support a business that’s a bit farther out than redevelopment has so far reached?
I’d love to hear what you think. In the meantime, try to get by there to see what they are all about. I get the impression more booths will be added and more merchandise will fill each booth. I suspect you’ll be seeing the Urban family lurking about.