A Business Closes Its Downtown Location After Five Years

Sandy Havener, Owner, Coldstream Market, 521 Union Ave., Knoxville, January 2016

It’s been a five year journey which ended this past weekend. Starting as a business in Clinton, owner Sandy Havener made the decision to move Coldstream Market to Market Square in 2013. It brought a retail piece that wasn’t present in the downtown market, with a blend of antiques and market reproductions along with locally crafted items including metal and wood tables made by Sandy’s husband Charlie.

It was also unique in that the store was located on a second-floor walk-up on Market Square. It was the first time of which I am aware we’ve had second floor retail during the current renaissance. (That distinction would later be shared by Lillian Ruth Bride.) And it worked. Coldstream maintained that location for two years and did well, but moving the large tables, which were always a big part of the business up and down the stairs was problematic.

Coldstream Market, 521 Union Ave., Knoxville, January 2016

Three years ago Sandy decided to open a second spot downtown, eventually closing the first after a transitional period. The move to the Daylight Building, at 521 Union Avenue, seemed to answer the problem of heavy tables and larger items. The foot traffic was less than that on Market Square, but the local traffic in the store seemed to increase, according to Sandy, at the time. Tourist business was less.

Now, after three years in the location, Sandy has decided to close her brick and mortar effot, though she’ll pursue other outlets. Here’s the statement posted to the Coldstream Market Facebook page:

We have had a great down town adventure! We’ve experimented with 2nd floor retail. We’ve brought unique industrial furniture to downtown. Customers have become friends. Retail trends change and so must we. We’re exploring other business avenue s: Pop up shops, online sales, and vintage shows. Stay connected with fb and Instagram or send your email to Coldstreammarket@gmail. Show us some love  and share your favorite find from Coldstream.

For the moment, she says she plans to take some time to catch her breath. She said it has been seven years since she’s truly had a weekend off. If the shop wasn’t open, she was at market looking for new items or at a vintage show setting up, taking down and working to sell her merchandise. It’s hard to keep that up indefinitely.

The Daylight Building, 500 Block Union Avenue, Knoxville, May 2018

The Daylight Building, 500 Block Union Avenue, Knoxville, May 2018

I’m glad we had the diversity of retail in the downtown market that Sandy’s store offered. It’s a loss and it makes our offerings for tourists and locals just a little less. It underscores the hard work required to keep a retail business alive and the headwinds facing local retail.

It also means that 521 Union Avenue is now available (it’s a Dewhirst Property) for the next person or group who wants to pursue a dream of brick and mortar retail. The building currently hosts Union Avenue Books, which has been there from the beginning when the building was re-opened in 2011. That original tenant is currently joined by Wild Lavender (2015), J.C. Holdway (2016) and Pearl on Union (2018).


  1. http://Dustin says

    Sandy and Charlie brought life to Market Square and downtown. We have several pieces that we found there.The conversation and company were priceless and I’ll never forget it. Sandy always made us feel welcome in the store. Heck I think she even let us borrow something one time to see if it would look good in our space. Best of Luck to them Both.

    I worry that with the growth of the city, that places like this will be few and far between.

  2. So very sad to see the departure of Coldstream Market. It was always fun to see what the owners had collected and then displayed in novel ways. Really loved the fact that we had a store like this one downtown.

  3. http://Cindy says

    I can not tell you how many unique items I found at Coldstream. My favorite it the KUB meter lamp! My husband has a metal sign from you in his business. My sister has bought a beautiful set of retro green swivel chairs. My friends have bought unique little items. I could go on. I get that downtown is a challenging market to thrive in for a long period of time. That said, I think Sandy has a great business venture and possibly would do better if she moved further out of downtown. I travel to Clinton to shop unique stuff all the time. Maybe somewhere in between. Hope to see Cold Stream reappear one day. In the mean time, i hope you enjoy some quality time off. Sad to see you go. 😕

  4. That shop had the only t.v. I ever loved downtown! It was fun to look in.

  5. http://Suzanne says

    I wish we had a Radio Shack downtown!

    • http://Ian says

      Suzanne – there used to be a Radio Shack on Market Square, approximately where the Subway is.

      • http://Suzanne says

        I’ ve been here 10 years…….so before that?
        Now , so many with electronic issues……..
        It was just a thought………..

  6. http://Meg%20McMuffin says

    I love Market Square and I love this kind of store and had no idea it was there. 😳

  7. http://Leticia%20Flores says

    I saw them packing up on Sunday morning, and almost called into your show to see if you had the scoop. Of course you did. Sad to see it leaving, I made an impulse purchase there just a week ago. Hopefully we’ll get another worthy business to join the growing party on the block. Somewhere where you can take your Pearl coffee and pastry in.

  8. At what point do we give up and admit that downtown Ktown is just a boozy food court.

    • http://KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says

      I wouldn’t go that far. 🙂 There is a basic existential question about retail – everywhere, not just downtown – as people shop more online and buy less local. People want a night out on the town and that’s where those boozy nights come in. On the other hand, we have a number of retail establishments of different sorts, many of which have been here for years. On Market Square alone there are a half dozen or more, including Earth to Old City, which has been around for maybe twenty years. Mast General store seems to do OK (understatement) on Gay Street, and Bliss just joined as retail across the street after a long run on Market Square. The Old City also has a number of retail establishments, as does the entirety of Union Avenue. And there are others sprinkled all about.

      • http://Tim%20Lucas says

        Urban Outfitters seems to do okay to. I know I will get blasted for this, but dare I say more retain chains could be a good thing? I could totally see stores like Gap, American Eagle, Apple store etc working downtown.

        • http://Jeremy says

          Market Square- definitely going more towards a boozy food court. Some retail spaces are being transformed into food/bars, which kind of sucks. However, I still have hope that more retail will be added as more residential buildings are built/restored. More chains would definitely be a good thing but I would have to vehemently disagree with American Eagle or Gap. Downtown needs more upper-middle to high end retail than you can find in the mall in order to attract business. Maybe like a West Elm, Zara, or Crate and Barrel. Urban Outfitters was a great choice, and was the first major step in bringing a younger crowd downtown. We can only hope other brands may follow.

          • http://lcox says

            WEST ELM, CB2, Crate & Barrel, Zara, Land of Nod, etc. – anything like this would be well welcomed in Knoxville!

  9. http://Kristi%20Gordon says

    I will miss them so much!

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