Are you one of those diehards that hits the mall on Black Thursday to shop for all of your Christmas presents? I’d like to propose a more leisurely approach this year. Gatlinburg has the best of your shopping possibilities–from hand-crafted goods made by local artisans to brand names offered by local outlets.
Instead of cramming all of your shopping into the day after Thanksgiving at your local mall, take a few days of rest and relaxation in the Great Smoky Mountains and shop a little, eat a little, enjoy a lot. October and November offer great views of the Smokies, and slightly cooler weather conjures the yearn for hot chocolate and a light-weight sweater. Here are a few of our favorite shopping experiences:
1. Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair. This event features more than 200 booths offering some of the nation’s finest work. Artisans are on hand to demonstrate their skills, answer questions and offer their unique art for sale. Live bluegrass and country music provide an authentic backdrop for the event. The Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s fair stretches through the middle of October of each year at the Gatlinburg Convention Center in downtown Gatlinburg. Admission in 2009 is $6.
2. Tanger Outlets of Pigeon Forge. “Brands You Know. Choices You Want. Prices You’ll Love.” I have a soft spot for a few of the Tanger Stores like Calvin Klein and Jones New York, but there is a little something for everyone from the kids (OshKosh B’gosh) to the teens (Aeropostale and rue 21) to the man of the family (Brooks Brothers and Nautica). There is even a great selection of lunch and dinner options. The Tanger Outlet Center is located approximately 10 miles from Downtown Gatlinburg.
3. Great Smoky Mountains Arts & Crafts Community. Founded in 1937, this community is the nation’s largest organization of independent artisans. Close to a hundred shops, studios, galleries, and inviting little eating establishments line an eight mile loop along Route 321, Buckhorn Road, and Glades Road. Most of the little Tennessee artists‘ shops and studios are clustered here and there along a winding road that follows the contours of the hills. As you take in a Gatlinburg art gallery or artisan shop, you will see gorgeous quilts, old-fashioned straw brooms, exquisitely woven baskets, beautiful jewelry, handdipped candles, pottery, dulcimers and much more. This community is located approximately 4 miles out of downtown Gatlinburg. Don’t miss their annual Holiday show beginning Thanksgiving weekend each year!
4. The Village Shops. While we realize that shopping requires disposable funds, window shopping is free. If you are trying to avoid the t-shirt shops and souvenir vendors? Take a stroll through The Village Shops. Located on the Parkway near traffic light #6 behind the Pancake Pantry, you will find original art, home decor, hiking gear, freshly-made doughnuts, children’s toys, celtic accessories and so much more. Outdoor dining, lively fountains, and scenic photo opportunities abound. Visit our previous post on Cheap or Free Things To Do in Gatlinburg.
5. Smoky Mountain Homecoming. Bring your family and enjoy experiencing and celebrating Appalachian heritage. A seasonal tradition since 1992, thousands of visitors have enjoyed wandering Sunset View Farm, home of the Robert A. Tino Gallery, during this beloved autumn event. From grandchildren to grandparents . . . there’s simply something for everyone. The Robert A. Tino Gallery, a gracious 19th century Victoria farmhouse, is listed on the National Register of Historic Homes – every room filled with Tino original watercolors and oils, Limited, Collectors and Signature editions, canvas lithographs and giclées, as well as ceramic art tiles, fine art note cards, holiday cards and pottery by area artisans. The Robert A. Tino Gallery is located approximately 15 miles from downtown Gatlinburg.
6. Arrowcraft Shop. This shop was founded in 1926 by Pi Beta Phi, the nation’s oldest women’s college fraternity. Arrowmont School and Arrowcraft Shop have a joint history, which goes back to 1930, when Arrowmont joined with several other craft cooperatives to form the Southern Highland Craft Guild to help mountain families in this remote region gain independence by providing them with a source of income from the sale of their handiwork. Today, known simply as Arrowcraft, it is the oldest gift shop in Gatlinburg, TN. As one of the Southern Highland Craft Guild shops, it continues the tradition of presenting fine regional crafts from a nine-state region – weaving, basketry, pottery, woodcarving, glass, and toys – ensuring that these skills passed from hand to hand for generations will be preserved for the future.
7. About You Salon. Need respite from all the shopping? Take a load off your feet and help protect the Great Smoky Mountains at the same time. Try the Mountain Heritage package which includes a foot soak, aroma sensory journey, Swedish & deep-tissue massage with hot stone enhancements, and finish with a monsoon shower. $10 of the proceeds of The Mountain Heritage signature massage package goes to benefit the Friends of the Smokies organization. The About You Salon is located just 3 to 5 minutes out of downtown Gatlinburg.
8. The Old Mill Square. This complex of restaurants, bakery, pottery and craft shops is more of a total destination than a single stop. Visitors can still watch meal and flour being ground the same way by the huge water powered granite French Buhrs in the mill, or pottery being thrown, or bread and candy being made. It’s a day’s worth or more of delight and wonder. Even local residents come from miles around to enjoy meals as well as enjoy Pigeon Forge shopping at our stores such as the The Old Mill Pigeon River Pottery, Farmhouse Kitchen, Candy Kitchen, our The Toy Bin for children and gifts, or the The Old Mill General Store for grown up gifts and more. The Old Mill Square is located approximately 6 miles from downtown Gatlinburg.
9. Buy More Art. Do you have that one person on your list that loves funky, contemporary art? Don’t assume the Smokies can’t help you find the perfect gift for your creatively driven friend or family member too. Knoxville’s vibrant fine arts community highlights East Tennessee’s unique character and appeal. The city is known to showcase exhibitions from around the world along with permanent collections of contemporary art at various performing arts venues. I have a personal love of the Arts & Culture Alliance gallery located at the corner of Jackson & Gay Streets in downtown Knoxville. Approx. 35 mile drive from Gatlinburg, TN. Visit our post on other Great Gatlinburg Day Trips.
10. Rent a Cabin. Don’t forget to rent a Gatlinburg cabin for your shopping vacation. Golf Vista offers you close proximity to Tanger Outlets and the The Old Mill, while the cabins of Winfield Heights are only 3/4 of a mile from the downtown Gatlinburg Parkway. Easy Livin’ and Dreams Inn are only a mile and 1/2 from the from the downtown Gatlinburg Parkway. With plenty of room and security for all of your purchases, a cabin offers you the comforts of your home, but you don’t have to clean this one!
This blog is sponsored in part by ERA In The Smokies Realty and Rentals located at 207 Parkway in Gatlinburg, TN. For more information on a Gatlinburg Cabin for your Smoky Mountain Vacation or all the reasons to move to the Smokies, call 1-800-309-0277. ERA In The Smokies is a leader in chalet and Log Cabin Rentals and Real Estate Sales in the Gatlinburg area.