Sometimes the best thing you can do is reach out a hand and help a neighbor. That includes making conscious choices to support local businesses whenever possible. Fortunately, Nashville is chock-full of opportunities to shop for just about anything you need without funneling your hard-earned dollars out of Music City. Here are a handful of homegrown enterprises that are worthy of your consideration.
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Germantown OK, admittedly this one is almost cheating since this small storefront in the Nashville Farmers' Market sells a multitude of locally made products. But if you're hunting for food, clothing, books, or just about any gift item that screams "Nashville!", Batch is your one-stop shop. Plus it'll build and ship a variety box of local goods to that friend or client who you owe a special "thank you" to, proving that, yes, it is possible to be both lazy and considerate.
Hillsboro Village Now that it has reopened after a fairly major overhaul, the Belcourt has fallen out of the headlines, but don't forget about it. As one of the last non-chain movie theaters in the area, the Belcourt screens first-run films as well as art flicks and indies that you won't see anywhere else... until or if they come out on Netflix. It also serves beer and hooch to pair with your snacks and Scorsese.
East Nashville You may know this boutique's owner, Maria "Poni" Silver, as the drummer and co-founder of the rock band The Ettes, but she has made quite a name for herself in her second career in fashion. After graduating from FIT, she decided to create a line of fun and funky contemporary urban streetwear that is tailor-made for the globe-trotting woman. All of her items are ethically produced right here in Nashville as well.
SoBro As Nashville's brewery scene continues to expand, we're seeing bigger and more modern facilities. The variety of beer is also becoming more exotic as new brewers toe into the local industry. At Czann's, owner/brewer Ken Rebman still does almost everything himself and the same way he did back when he was a homebrewer working out of his basement. From building the cozy taproom and brewing the beer to cleaning the kegs and delivering to stores, he may just be the hardest-working man in the biz. His customers love him for it. And so will you.
8th Ave This Melrose-area coffee shop and roastery has got it all. The smell of browning coffee beans from the large roasting operation greets patrons as they step up to the counter to order gourmet espresso drinks and possibly a treat from The Wild Muffin (gluten-free, if that's your thing). What started out as a home hobby for husband-and-wife owners Brad and Lesa Wood has evolved into a neighborhood mainstay and wholesale/retail operation that you have to check out if you haven't already.
East Nashville If you're a fan of those tiny-house shows on TV and you enjoy reading, you'll probably love East Side Story. Proprietor (and sole employee) Chuck Beard operates this lilliputian bookstore out of a stall in a precious strip of shops on Woodland St. Featuring only books by local authors, Beard is a tireless cheerleader for the local literary community and also produces a series of public "East Side Storytellin'" events where authors and musicians perform together and talk about the creative craft.
Germantown In addition to bicycle sales, rentals, and repairs, Green Fleet also offers cycling tours of some of Nashville's most fascinating neighborhoods. Organize your own group or jump in on one of its organized tours to see the sites and hear stories that might even be new to native Nashvillians. Green Fleet provides the guides, the bicycles, helmets, and water; all you need to do is be the engine. Some of the tour guides can trace their roots in Nashville back for many generations, so rest assured you'll be getting only the most illustrious gems of information.
Berry Hill If all you know about sensory deprivation float tanks is from that scary old movie Altered States, then listen up. Float Nashville is all about altering your state (in a good way) as you suspend in a warm salt water bath, either in total darkness or an open tank, and let your mind wander free while you relax in a womb-like environment. Don't knock it until you've tried it, and Float fans are happy to evangelize to you about their hobby with the fervor of a dozen CrossFitters. Well, maybe not quite as aggro as all that.
East Nashville For local gifts that make you look like you put a lot of thought into them, Hey Rooster General Store is a great choice. The staff at this cozy little emporium know the stories behind all the products including jewelry made by the owner, local food and pantry treats, lotions, candles, kitchen tools, and the like. Be sure to ask questions. The staff will have answers and they’ll walk you straight to the perfect gift.
Music Row/Vanderbilt/Belmont Men could use a little pampering too every now and then, and The Moose knows how to treat them. From the outlaw country soundtrack to the masculine leather furnishings, mounted animal heads, cigar lounge, and hair care products stored in reused whiskey bottles at the stylist stations, it's a guy's paradise. For a special treat, schedule the full straight razor shave experience with a pre-shave oil massage, hot towels, hot shave, lavender oil cool-down, and aftershave balm massage.
East Nashville Nashville's first mobile boutique, Trunk Nashville, is a rolling fashion truck designed to showcase local designers of men's and women's clothing -- plus jewelry, accessories, and unique gift items. Owner Abby Franklin augments the local selections with international picks to help design complete ensembles to make you look like a million bucks for a whole lot less than that. She has recently opened a small brick-and-mortar outpost in the Shoppes on Fatherland so you don't have to go chasing the truck around.
West Nashville One of Nashville's hidden treasures, the Carl Van Vechten Gallery at Fisk houses the Stieglitz Collection of Modern American and European Art, which includes works by Pablo Picasso, Paul Cézanne, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Georgia O'Keeffe, and other notable artists. Well, actually, the stately Victorian building displays the collection half the time, rotating ownership with the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Arkansas on a biannual basis.
East Nashville The only thing wrong with a store that sells new and used vinyl records plus local and domestic craft beer is that it won't rent out a cot for you to live there. The owner is a fourth-generation Nashvillian, so he's tapped in on the needs of the neighborhood. And they want wax and taps. The casual ambience of the record store/drafthouse is like an extension of a cozy living room, so pull up a couch, sit a spell, and support your community whilst getting tipsy.
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Chris Chamberlain is a food, drink, and travel writer who is one of the rare unicorns who was actually born in Nashville and still lives here (covers mouth and mumbles) years later. So when he suggests you shop local, it comes from the heart.