“Every home regardless of its style, whether it’s contemporary or Victorian, deserves a storied piece in it,” says Lonna Hamblen of Southside Antiques. The other members of Chattanooga’s antiques community couldn’t agree more. There’s simply something about the value these items give to the past. Finding a timeless treasure may remind us of our grandparents, or it may simply add a pop of interest to our spaces. Whichever rings true for you, here’s where to shop.
CC’s Antiques, Lookout Valley
One of the oldest standing storefronts in Lookout Valley, CC’s Antiques used to be an Otasco, where Connie Carrick’s father worked when she was a child in the 1960s. It’s a building Carrick always wanted to own herself, and in 2004, her dream became reality. Connick’s memories of childhood include her mother’s love of antiques and estate sales. When Connick and her husband were high school sweethearts, they found hand-carved and round-back chairs at 23rd Street Flea Market that remain in their home today. Carrick kept booths at McCracken Brothers and East Town before opening CC’s Antiques and says when it comes to antiques, she’s always on the lookout for items for the store. Customer favorites include furniture, iron, handmade swings, and fishing items. Her husband loves comic books. “My love is china, which is kind of what got me in this to begin with. I like silverware. I like everything – that’s my problem,” she says with a laugh. “Whatever is cool, whatever is unique, whatever is different. That’s what we look for.”
Southside Antiques, Broad Street
When Lonna Hamblen started her career in antiquing with booth space at Southside Antiques, she’d always attended auctions and considered herself a collector. As she expanded her booth space over time, she let the owners at Southside know that if they ever planned to retire, she wanted to step in. In 2018, Hamblen got her wish. She expanded the store from 2,500 square feet to 5,000 square feet at its original location, then moved to an even larger space on Broad Street in downtown Chattanooga. “One unique thing about our store is that the building we’re in used to be The Chattanooga Auction House. My landlords were the owners of that, and they still get contacted by people looking to cash out an estate, or with things they need to sell or get rid of. I get a lot of things just by word of mouth,” Hamblen says. Specializing in higher-end antiques and decorative items – not craft or farmhouse styles – Hamblen says her space also lends itself to easy loading of items leaving with customers and items coming into the store to be sold. Despite the 8,500 square feet of shopping space, she says Southside Antiques remains “small enough” that when customers come in looking for something specific, she is happy to help them find it in their budget. Southside Antiques specialties include Chinoiserie, blue and white decor, and mirrors. Lots of mirrors.
Mostly French, Williams Street
“I love French everything – food, furniture, antiques,” says Mostly French’s Helen Warrender, who travels to France once each year with life and business partner Duffy Hudson to find unique items not available in the U.S. “Mostly anything to do with food: cookbooks, French copper, cooking utensils. My partner says anything that’s shiny.” At Mostly French, Warrender adds, the furniture is true antique, not reproductions and not mid-century. Warrender’s memories of antiquing go back to when she was a child and would visit thrift shops and what she’d call “junk stores” with her mom. After a career at Brach’s Confections, she opened a booth at Southside Antiques, then rented a space at East Main Street and Central Avenue near Griffin’s Footlong Hot Dogs. When Southside Antiques moved to its current location, Warrender says relocating Mostly French to the newly vacant space on Williams Street was like “coming home.” The renovated space neighbors gift and home decor shop Chrysalis, and an interior door between the two allows customers to move from one space to the next.
The Refindery, McCallie Avenue
One of the draws of antiques is that they are often better made than modern items. “They have that long-lasting durability,” says Carol Ellis, owner of The Refindery. “And it’s also about repurposing and reusing things, which is earth-friendly.” Located at the corner of McCallie Avenue and Holtzclaw Avenue in downtown Chattanooga, The Refindery specializes in architectural elements. But with approximately 45 vendors on-site, you’ll also find furniture, signage, glassware, art, mirrors, telephones, frames, china, figurines, suitcases, lighting, and more. “We sell a lot of doors and windows and stained glass, when we have it. And we just have a variety, including a big record shop in the store. We’ve got a little bit for everybody.” Ellis says the location is a dream. The store sees college students looking to outfit apartments and dorm rooms; people who’d rather shop than sit in traffic on their way home from work; and others who have just visited Chattanooga National Cemetery, Warner Park, or the medical facility across the street.
Dirty Jane’s Antiques, Dayton Boulevard
With 100 vendors on-site, Dirty Jane’s Antiques in Red Bank is one of the best Chattanooga stores for a wide variety of styles: mid-century, vintage, antique, modern. “Mid-century is probably the biggest right now, but we still get a lot of people that like industrial, classic Americana. We do really well with antique filing cabinets, oak pieces, things like that,” says owner Ryan Bush, who managed Knitting Mill Antiques in Northshore for 10 years before opening Dirty Jane’s. Proximity to downtown and fantastic parking are part of what has made the store such a success, plus the fact that vendors are on-site two to three times a week updating their booths. At 24,000 square feet, there’s simply something for everyone. As a dealer, Bush says, part of the value of antiques is that they’ve stood the test of time. The quality of the items is apparent in how they’ve held up after years of use. Bush also points to the thrill of the hunt. “There are few feelings better than sifting through old boxes of odds and ends,” she says. “Not knowing what to expect just makes everything you find feel like a special treat.”
Vintage & More on The Blvd., Dayton Boulevard
Specializing in jewelry, linens, glassware, end tables, paintings, nostalgic toys, holiday decor, and knick-knacks, Vintage & More on The Blvd. is more vintage than antique but a favorite for giving new life to old items in Chattanooga. “A lot of shoppers get excited about things they used to have that, over the years, they have lost or given away and would like to have back. Things their mother or grandmother had,” says Deborah Baldridge, who runs the shop with her sister Peggy Roe. “And a lot of people are collectors. We have people who like frogs, they love other particular things.” When Baldridge and Roe acquired Vintage & More in 2016, they started with an expansion. They added electricity and air conditioning to the back storage room and turned it into a third retail space. With 37 vendors, Baldridge says they take care to make sure each booth is refreshed and organized each day. Current Vintage & More customer favorites include mid-century modern furniture, when available, and nightstands.