Forget Amazon.com for a minute and shop local! Bookstores are few and far between these days, but there is something about Union Ave Books that keeps bringing people in. Start a conversation with someone about a favorite book, meet an author in person for a book signing or get together for a book club. They also have several gifts like stuffed animals, tote bags, notebooks, address books, and planners. If you can't find the book you're looking for, the helpful staff can order it for you. They are located in downtown Knoxville, making it an easy place to stop while walking around the area.
Recommended for Best Shopping because: In the virtual age, if you miss real bookstores this is the place for you.
Amber's expert tip: On Mondays and Tuesdays, they also buy used books through the exchange program.
This award-winning store is the self-proclaimed "vintique market." Specializing in vintage and retro items, they aren't the typical antique store with products from more than 30 dealers. From vinyl records, shabby - but chic - furniture and home decor, and mid-centuryclothing, there are surprising finds (and bargains) to be had everywhere you look. Shoppers can pick up kitchenware, manual typewriters, books, record players, lamps, dressers, chairs - you name it. The shop is open seven days a week and gift cards are also available. If there is something specific you want, let them know and they will contact you if anything comes in that fits the bill.
Recommended for Best Shopping because: As Tennessee's largest vintage collection, this shop is a must for collectors of mid-century items.
Amber's expert tip: They recently opened a second location on McCalla Avenue.
For more than 30 years, The East Tennessee Farmers Association for Retail Marketing (FARM) has operated two farmers markets in the Knoxville area: the Knoxville Farmers Market and the Oak Ridge Farmers Market (these are different than the Market Square Farmers Market). Shoppers will find seasonal vegetables, herbs, flowers, plants, fruits, berries, honey, grass-fed meats, eggs and specialty cheeses. Baked goods are also common items for vendors of this not-for-profit organization, including breads, cookies, granola, and scones. The Oak Ridge Market often co-hosts live musical entertainment and guest chefs serve "Breakfast at the Farmers Market." The markets are open from mid-April through late November.
Recommended for Best Shopping because: Visiting a farmers market helps put money back into the local economy.
Amber's expert tip: The Knoxville Farmers Market operates on Tuesdays at Ebenezer United Methodist Church, and Jackson Square is home to the Oak Ridge Farmers Market on Wednesday and Saturdays.
Each historic store in this southern chain is unique. In Knoxville, the building was erected in 1898 after a fire, and first opened as a grocery store. Since then, it has changed hands and become several types of shops before emerging as the Mast General Store in 2006. The store sells everything from clothing, vintage Coke bottles (and other nostalgic items,)dolls, toys, luggage, and outdoor gear. Stock up on your favorite old-fashioned candy, or fill the kitchen cupboard with artisan-style baking ingredients, homemade dressings, sauces, syrups and more. There are even special gifts for furry friends, like dog treats, leashes, and pet care items.
Recommended for Best Shopping because: This traditional general store is the throwback to another era, and offers a wide selection of items.
Amber's expert tip: Free shipping is available for orders of $50 or more.
This Knoxville-based specialty store has been growing since opening their first designer outlet in 2003. Earning rave reviews from locals as well as numerous awards, Bliss is a "must see" for shoppers to the Knoxville area. Their Market Square store offers individual artwork infused into accessories, jewelery, boutique clothing and home decor items like photo frames, candles, lamps, mirrors, rugs, pottery, bowls, and more. There's also kid's (and infant) items such as books, bibs, and rattles. Bliss Home debuted in Knoxville to offer exclusive furniture, and even opened a branch in Nashville. Shoppers can also browse online, read designer bios, and have items delivered.
Recommended for Best Shopping because: A favorite among locals, this boutique store is rapidly expanding.
Amber's expert tip: On the first Friday of every month, they features a new artist.
This zen-like store makes gift buying easy. It has a free year-round gift-wrapping service, and the selection is broad and well chosen, with gorgeous photographic art that can be custom-framed on-site. Online browsing is also available. You'll also find t-shirts, posters, books, toys, handmade pottery, jewelry, and some unique items for the garden. The store has some amazing soaps (and it smells great when you walk in), as well as fun decor items like hanging lamps that are perfect for a college dorm room. Earth to Old City is located in the heart of Market Square, making it a great after-lunch stop.
Recommended for Best Shopping because: High-quality soaps, nick-knacks and home decor items make this an interesting store to browse.
Amber's expert tip: They post a listing of their new products online.
In addition to the clever name, Nothing Too Fancy gets a nod for working with local artists in a number of their products. They specialize in super-soft, vintage-inspired t-shirts – many with slogans showcasing Tennessee pride. Set in Market Square, this retail store's products are trendy and fashionable yet casual and comfortable. Shoppers will also find plenty of beer koozies, patches, hats, magnets, decals, hoodies, sweatpants, tote bags, coffee mugs, laptop and phone cases, and plenty of other nick-knacks that make great, Knoxville-themed souvenirs or original gifts. If shopping makes you work up an appetite, the Tomato Head is close by to solve that problem.
Recommended for Best Shopping because: Nothing Too Fancy offers a perfect alternative to the typical tourist souvenir shops.
Amber's expert tip: You can also shop online, and gift cards are available.
In a world of iTunes and mp3s, this record store is a true gem that is still going strong! Offering more than 100,000 new and used titles, as well as an extensive online store, an impressive vinyl collection (in a separate room) turntables and accessories, DVDs, and a boutique with t-shirts, posters, incense, and more. Disk Exchange has been in business for more than 20 years, and continues to host listening parties for new releases, and live music - including local and national acts. A number of listening booths are available to sample music, and the staff is easy-going and extremely helpful.
Recommended for Best Shopping because: Because record stores as awesome as this one won't be around forever.
Amber's expert tip: Don't miss the bargain bins!
On Wednesdays and Saturdays, Market Square hums even more than usual with the farmers market. Everything at the market is produced by vendors in the East Tennessee region, including salsas, chocolates, coffee, artisan crafts, fruits, and vegetables. The market is open from 9am to 2pm from May through November. Each December, on Saturdays before Christmas the holiday market gets underway for holiday gifts, food trucks, as well as a small "farmers market" on Saturdays. In addition, beginning January 2014, on the second Saturday of each month through April, the original dining room of the train station will host vendors as well.
Recommended for Best Shopping because: It's easy to spend a couple hours lingering around this massive market.
Amber's expert tip: Be sure to stop by the Cruze Farm food truck for some ice cream treats!
More than 15 years ago, Southern Market was inspired by the idea of specialty shops lining the streets of Knoxville, and has blossomed into a unique destination for shoppers. Visitors can add that perfect touch to the home, and with 40 shops to peruse, there is quite a variety of home decor items ranging from antiques to artwork. Contemporary furniture, decorative accessories, garden décor, jewelry, clothing, or gift items are just a few of the items available. Three times a year, festivals are held at the market including a unique tailgate party in August where merchants sell their wares from their cars.
Recommended for Best Shopping because: The Southern Market offers a wide variety of items and a pleasant shopping environment.
Amber's expert tip: Located in the District in Bearden (outside downtown), there are several other galleries and restaurants worth visiting in this area.