French Fried Vintage, 7 Emory Place, Knoxville, June 2023
This past February, Jenny Salata and April Burger announced their new location and expansion of French Fried Vintage at 7 Emory Place. Originally located at 1520 North Central Street (until this past Wednesday!), the store opened in July 2019 and quickly found an audience for its vintage clothing and other sundry items. Their contagious love of vintage fashion, eco-friendly solutions to the fashion industry, and of Knoxville came through as they nurtured the new business.
Through the pandemic, as well as personal challenges (detailed in the previous article), the two became even more committed to the business. While April was the original face of the store, events necessitated that Jenny leave her job and devote herself full time to the business. They grew their social media following and in-store sales once the pandemic became less of a threat. In-person contact with their customers truly drives the two and they were happy to see their customers once more, many of whom were new as a result of the increased social media presence.
The business and inventory grew so rapidly that their five-year plan of moving to a larger location became a three-year plan. They leased 7 Emory Place in January 2022 and it has taken over a year to get possession, finish the build-out, move inventory, and get inspections and permitting completed.
They feel they’ve taken a lot of things to the next level, including approximately tripling their space (to about 1800 square feet) and inventory. They gather items from garage sales, estate sales, and directly from customers. April said there is plenty more lurking in her garage waiting for space in the new location. They now have an awesome website, and they feel they can offer events and reach out more to their new neighborhood. They also plan to add their own line of branded merchandise.
You’ll find items ranging from the 1950s to the early 2000s and very little of the merchandise at the new location has been seen by customers before today. While the merchandise is heavy on clothing, April said to expect a wider range of vintage items in the future, including furniture and other period pieces. They have cassette tapes (which she tells me sell) and they plan to add vintage vinyl to the collection. Virtually everything is original vintage, though the sunglasses are reproductions. They have many items in the $30 range and they maintain a $5 rack.
One of the coolest items you’ll spot inside the store is a Dolly Parton pinball machine from the late 1970s (it isn’t the one that used to be at Suttree’s). Her father-in-law found it in the tri-cities area, purchased it, and refurbished it. April said it isn’t for sale (I’d love for someone to offer her a million dollars and test that statement), but it is functioning and all the quarters dropped into the machine this weekend will go toward Dolly’s Imagination Library. The top three high scorers for the weekend win a gift card to the store.
Tonight they open at 5:00 pm. Out the gate after today they will be open noon to 6:00 pm, seven days a week. They plan to gauge traffic, but are interested in pushing the hours in each direction if demand justifies, with the possibility of operating from 10:00 to 8:00 pm. April pointed out that while they are ready to open, they will continue working on the space for at least the next month and may have a blowout celebration both for the opening, as well as for their fourth anniversary as a business.
While they had hoped to open for Big Ears, their First Friday June opening may work out just fine. First Friday is followed the next day by Rhinestone Fest with all things Dolly, and perhaps best of all, Sunday brings Open Streets which just happens to be outside their front door. They will have a spot in front of the store for children to do fashion shows. Their artist of the month (which will rotate) features Dolly Bags and stickers by Kelley Segars.
Stop in and say hello.
In the meantime, you can stay connected with them through their website, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and their Youtube channel. Physical gift cards are available in the store and digital cards are available here. You can also text “Join” to 844-246-7951 for monthly texts alerting users to sales or special offers.