>Yesterday James and I decided to spend the afternoon looking for some wicker furniture for our back porch and a new daybed for the cottage. Thinking logically, we chose to drive an hour east to the town of Hickory, NC. Once known for the wood furniture built there, Hickory still lays claim to some large furniture markets. Nothing on the scale of Highpoint mind you but still worth a trip (or so we thought). It was curiously disappointing to us.
Yes, there were warehouses full of furniture and yes, there were many brand-name showrooms, but there was not much in stock in the way of traditional wicker furniture and almost no daybeds at all, much less one in the Arts and Crafts style. We did manage to find Amish Oak & Cherry, a company whose Amish craftsmen make beautiful wood furniture in their homes to the purchaser’s specifications. The craftsmanship of their work was awe-inspiringly beautiful.
After a quick lunch, James and I decided to cut our losses and head back to the Asheville. But since we had arranged an innsitter for the day we decided that we might as well use the rest of the afternoon to explore some of the more interesting shops we had seen in town but had not had time to visit.
First on our list was Screendoor which advertises “Treasures for the Uncommon Garden and Cottage”. (You would think this might have been a clue to us all along.) Pulling up to the warehouse, we found a front yard littered, if that’s the right word, with birdbaths, benches and gazebos. Inside was over 25,000 square feet of antique stalls. Not the high end stalls of the finer shops of Biltmore Village but a more eclectic mix of good and less good mixed together. And here is one of my favorite finds, a pair of cook and housekeeper salt and pepper shakers! Those of you who have visited the Carolina Bed & Breakfast know that one of my borderline tacky sides is my collection of salt and pepper shakers. I couldn’t wait to get home to place these on my grandmother’s whatnot shelf. They seem so appropriate to our new life. But still no wicker furniture.
So it was on to the Antique Tobacco Barn. The barn is located on Swannanoa River Road and was used for annual tobacco auctions as well as housing a year round antique market until 2004 when flooding by the river put the entire barn and its contents under six feet of water. But the market bounced back, although the tobacco auction did not, and more than 75 vendors are now showcased in a barn the size of almost two football fields. The management states that the dealers “have a different take on what is wonderful” and this is true. We were enthralled as we wandered up and down the spacious aisles. Looking at an old rotary telephone and a 1930 Smith-Corona typewriter I found myself wishing I had had access to a place like this back in Singapore where I worked with the drama department of our high school and had limited luck in finding props for some of our period shows.So many things were familiar from my childhood (my very early childhood). We even found the exact same set of brass fireplace tools which were damaged and lost when we lived in England. James wandered off and found some beautiful antique sconces which someone had wired for electricity. Here is he holding them, ready to take them home and find a place for them in the inn.
Oh, and the wicker furniture set? James is picking it up from the Antique Tobacco Barn today. As Dorothy so aptly put it in the Wizard of Oz, “If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own backyard.”