Last Friday Market Square welcomed a new business. Earthbound Trading Company opened their 125 location at 32 Market Square and started selling their unique brand of hippie-meets-third-world fare. You know from the inflatable unicorn head posted on the door that this will not be your ordinary shop. Once inside, a number of items do look fairly familiar to other items you might find on the square, such as jewelry and dresses. Still, other items are a little less common.
A quick glance at the Earthbound Trading Company website reveals that the company is very comfortable with their hippie vibe and also embraces an international flavor. Some of the merchandise, such as hand-carved masks from Bali, reminds me of 10,000 Villages which used to occupy the same spot. Some of the dresses are pretty conventional, though with that same vibe. You can also pick up a Samurai sword if you are in need.
Then, you run into some less common kinds of fare, such as the aforementioned inflatable unicorn head. This shop is also destined to be your one-stop shopping for Mardi Gras masks, as they feature a wall full of them. In the past, one might have seen Umoja (the guy in the straw hat and the robe, in case you don’t know him) walking the streets of downtown Knoxville and wondered, “Where could I get a hat like that?” Well, wonder no more: pointed straw hats are now available on Market Square.
Consistent with the hippie theme, a generous supply of incense is available as is a beaded doorway with a peace symbol design. Peace symbols are pretty prevalent throughout the shop. Headbands and groovy art are sprinkled throughout along with beaded items and dream-catchers. Of course, that great unisex and completely versatile wardrobe necessity the Baja Hoodie Hippie Jacket is offered in a variety of colors. I’ll confess, I’ve owned one since the seventies and you might actually catch me wearing it this fall or winter. Come on, they totally rock!
My very helpful guide for my excursion into the store was Deanna Eberlin who moved here from upstate New York. She says Knoxville reminds her of the commons in Ithaca, New York which, if you search for some pictures of the town, I think you’ll find the comparison complimentary. She decided she wanted to live in Knoxville and found her job after she got here. Very generation Y.
Fairly new to the company, she was none-the-less very enthusiastic when pointed out the charities the store supports, such as Heifer International and Arbor Day. She also noted that, like 10,000 Villages, they have relationships with craftsmen all over the world. She pointed out their wrap skirts that are made from the scraps from Saris as an example of their commitment to earth-friendly practices.
They also like to encourage local artists to submit prints that they would like to have considered for production runs to be sold in the store. They typically carry a number of prints they’ve found this way and why not one of our local artists? I was surprised to learn that this is the ninth location to be added in Tennessee. The store in Gatlinburg was recently remodeled and the company also has a location in Hamilton Place Mall in Chattanooga.
Lori Steele is the local manager and when you are feeling just a little hippieish, you might want to stop in and say, “hi.” Also, welcome Deanna to Tennessee. And maybe pick up a little incense and beads while you’re there.