The Ultimate Shopping Guide to Nashville

From bookstores to music shops, these 25 small businesses should be on your list.

Parnassus Books
Courtesy of Parnassus Books
Courtesy of Parnassus Books

Whether you’re shopping for souvenirs or gifts, looking for something specific to decorate your home, or just engaging in a little retail therapy to brighten your day, Nashville has you covered with a wide variety of “shopportunities.” From high-end boutiques to excellent thrift and used record stores to a hardware store that’s a throwback to days of yore, there are plenty of excellent spots to find something unique in this town. Here are some of our favorite places to immerse yourself in that authentic Nashville style.

A Shop of Things
Courtesy of A Shop of Things

A Shop of Things

East Nashville

Look out for: Everything from fuzzy dice to dog toys, just like the name says
A Shop of Things isn’t the sort of store where you go in looking for anything in particular. Instead, wander the aisles until you discover something that makes you giggle with delight, put it in your basket, and then repeat the process on the next shelf until it’s time to check out with your Spice Girls rolling trays, disco ball planters, and fingernail decals.

Grimey’s New & Preloved Music
Courtesy of Grimey’s New & Preloved Music

Look out for: The best selection of vinyl in Music City
For years, Grimey’s has served as sort of a clubhouse for vinyl record lovers, hosting record release parties in the store and offering rack after rack of new and used LPs, CDs, and books. Their team of buyers will evaluate your collection and buy the best of the lot to offer in the store, and then you can spend your bounty buying new old music to store in those old milk crates you’ve moved five times since college.

n.b. goods
n.b. goods

n.b. goods

East Nashville

What you’re here for: Nostalgic gender-neutral clothes and accessories
The owner of this fun little gift shop has put together collections of witty sayings emblazoned on trucker hats, T-shirts, and stickers that make fantastic presents. Buy a “Yes, Chef” cap for the sous who helps you out in your home kitchen. And you have to know someone who would appreciate a tote bag with “what in the holy hee haw hell” printed in huge letters, right?

The Hip Zipper

East Nashville

Look out for: Well-curated vintage clothing
Specializing in vintage clothes from before the 1990s, The Hip Zipper has been East Nashville’s favorite classic clothing stores for a long time. The staff constantly restocks their inventory, seeking out clothes and accessories that aren't just old; they have to be quality classic designs to earn a spot on the hangers in the Hip Zipper’s racks. Freshen your wardrobe with something timeless.

Black Shag Vintage
Courtesy of Black Shag Vintage

Black Shag Vintage

East Nashville

What you’re here for: Rare vintage graphic and concert T-shirts
If you’re searching for legit retro rock n’ roll vintage clothing, look no further than this former touring musician’s store where he sources old-school concert tees and leather that is worn on stage and on the red carpet by celebrities ranging from Drake to Keith Urban. The staff is always on the lookout for something new that’s old, and they replenish the inventory frequently, including vintage T-shirt drops on Fridays.

Look out for: Used musical instruments
Nashville is Music City, but local musicians prefer to shop in comfortable spaces instead of at guitar superstores. Fanny’s is located in a cozy East Nashville house where you can wander from room to room shopping for vintage clothing and used musical instruments that are actually meant to be played, not collected. Fanny’s also offers instrument repair services and music lessons, and they’ll buy, trade, or consign your musical gear for you.

Hatch Show Print
Courtesy of Hatch Show Print

What you’re here for: History that you can hang on your wall
Located inside the Country Music Hall of Fame, Hatch Show Print is truly a Nashville treasure. Employing the same 19th-century woodblock type and letterpress techniques that once printed posters for iconic acts like Roy Acuff and Johnny Cash, the artists at Hatch combine modern design with historic printing methods to create unique posters and postcards to sell in their shop. Even their mistakes are art, so don’t be afraid to browse through the “oops” pile for some bargains.

Spread Market & Larder
Courtesy of Spread Market & Larder

What you’re here for: Specialty gourmet foods and wine
Walking into the lovely renovated bungalow in Germantown that houses this specialty food market, shoppers are often greeted with the aroma of fresh baking bread from the kitchen. Since people always recommend not to shop when you’re hungry, maybe grab a cookie to nibble on while you browse the shelves stocked with imported tinned fish products, high-end olive oils, enough spices to fill a bazaar, coffee, hot sauces, and a wall of interesting and affordable wines to stock your home pantry.

Gardens of Babylon
Courtesy of Gardens of Babylon

What you’re here for: Decorative landscaping and home garden needs
Occupying one end of the Nashville Farmers’ Market’s outdoor merchant shed, Gardens of Babylon is a local favorite for everything outdoors and in the ground. While the inventory might not be as extensive as a big box store, they stock pretty much anything you would need to beautify your landscape or plant a home garden to take advantage of Tennessee’s long growing season. Helpful staff will guide you along the way, and the prices are competitive with bigger stores.

Alkebu-Lan Images
Courtesy of Alkebu-Lan Images

What you’re here for: Art, books, and apparel
Nashville’s premier Black-owned bookstore serves as a cultural center for the city, offering books, art, jewelry, music, clothing, and other crafts sourced from Black-run establishments wherever possible. Alkebu-Lan seeks to support Black empowerment and serving the educational and religious needs of the community.

Antique Archaeology
Courtesy of Antique Archaeology

Antique Archaeology

Marathon Village

Look out for: The reality TV star who hosts “American Pickers”
Shop owner Mike Wolfe is best known for his History Channel show “American Pickers,” where he scours the back roads of America to find hidden treasures in barns, at yard sales, and anywhere else unique items might lie. At his Nashville store, he offers vintage collectibles and unique home decor that he has discovered during his travels, as well as memorabilia from the show. Some of the items displayed are not for sale, but that’s OK. It’s like visiting a museum of ephemera.

The Shop at Thistle Farms
Courtesy of Thistle Farms

What you’re here for: Gifts with proceeds supporting "women survivors of trafficking, prostitution, and addiction"
For more than a quarter of a century, Thistle Farms has provided sanctuary for women escaping from traumatic life experiences and offered them vocational training to get back on their feet. As part of that education, the women learn to make candles, body products, and artisan home goods that they sell in the warm and welcoming store. Shopping at Thistle Farms helps to support these brave women in their recovery so they can thrive.

Look out for: Vintage home goods and decor that skew toward the bizarre
This specialty home decor store is a favorite destination for those seeking art that doesn’t necessarily match your couch. In addition to quirky garage sale finds, the shop also designs custom pieces out of scavenged materials to create unique artwork to really make your house pop. They really embrace the “weird things” part of their name, so you’re liable to find something to make you grin just about everywhere you look in the store.

Haymakers & Co.
Courtesy of Haymakers & Co.

Haymakers & Co.

West End/Centennial Park

What you’re here for: Bespoke men’s clothing and accessories
Sourcing men’s clothing from some of the most respected names in the fashion industry as well as newer suppliers who might be the next big thing, Haymakers is a go-to destination for guys wanting to look great everywhere from a formal wedding to casual Friday, and they also offer full wardrobe consultations and barber services. The talented tailors also design custom pieces for a unique look and perfect fit. Bonus: They’ll even serve you a beer while you shop.

Duke’s General Store
Courtesy of Duke’s General Store

What you’re here for: The best gift shop you’ll ever find in a car wash
Billed as a modern roadside general store, Duke’s is tucked into the lobby of a modern car wash behind a gas station, so it can be a little difficult to find. The search is worth it, though, because the shelves are stocked with specialty staple foods, books, arts and crafts, body products, and gift items. You can clean up your gift list while your car gets washed.

Hillsboro Hardware
Courtesy of Hillsboro Hardware

Hillsboro Hardware

Hillsboro Village

What you’re here for: Helpful employees when you’re in a fix or need to fix something
Superstore hardware emporiums stock much deeper inventories and many more varieties of products than this vital neighborhood hardware store with its wooden floors and low ceiling, but do you really need a lot of choices when picking up a 7/16” hex nut to replace the one that fell through the cracks in your deck when you were building that new grill? What you need is someone who will actually walk you to the proper bin and help you pick out the right size nut. That’s what you’ll find at Hillsboro Hardware.

Imogene + Willie
Courtesy of Imogene + Willie

What you’re here for: Ultra high end denim
Nashville has long been a “blue jeans and boots” kind of town, but denimware wasn’t truly appreciated until Imogene + Willie opened a bespoke blue jean shop in a former service station in 12 South. Their small batch, handmade in the USA blue jeans set a new standard for luxury denim along with a new high price point that famous musicians and local hipsters are happy to pay for the quality of their craftsmanship.

Ranger Station
Courtesy of Ranger Station

Look out for: Musicians making candles
Founded by a local drummer looking for a way to make some spare cash between gigs on the road, Ranger Station is a candle company steeped in two of Nashville’s most beloved traditions, music and cocktails. The vast majority of the store’s staff are also musicians augmenting their income, and the various aromas of candles, room sprays, and perfumes they create demonstrate the creativity associated with their other careers. They also offer a popular line of cocktail-inspired candles, with a recipe card included in each purchase.

Draper James

12 South

Look out for: Reese Witherspoon, but you probably won’t see her
Yes, this is Reese Witherspoon’s boutique, and she did name it after her grandparents, and she has been known to drop by to check on business. However, don’t expect to find her standing behind the counter on any given day or anything. That’s OK, because she has stocked her shop with clothing, accessories, and jewelries that exude her signature genteel style. If you can’t meet Reese, you might as well at least try to dress like her.

White's Mercantile
Courtesy of White's Mercantile

What you’re here for: Crafted gifts and souvenirs
Established by singer-songwriter Holly Williams, this small chain of boutique/gift shops bills itself as “a general store for the modern-day tastemaker.” That’s an apt description because the tables and shelves of the store are piled high with antiques, home goods, clothing, handcrafted leather bags, candles, and apothecary products, many of them created by local and regional artists. For gifts and souvenirs that actually exhibit some of the soul of Music City, White’s is a fine choice.

Parnassus Books

Green Hills

What you’re here for: New books and maybe the chance to meet a best-selling author or pet one of the shop dogs
It’s true that the owner of Parnassus is novelist Ann Patchett, and the award-winning author’s celebrity does attract many of the best-known writers in the country to the store for signings and readings. Shoppers can also purchase signed copies of all of her books in the store. That’s great and all, but it’s the homey, independent bookstore vibe, extremely helpful staff, and precious shop dogs wandering the aisles that keep fans coming back to Parnassus instead of buying books online.

Margaret Ellis Jewelry
Courtesy of Margaret Ellis Jewelry

What you’re here for: Handcrafted custom high-end jewelry
The trained artisans at Margaret Ellis Studio design bold showpiece wearable art made using precious metals and hand-picked gemstones and pearls. For an accessory that will really make you stand out at the next gala event, drop by their showroom or book an appointment for a design consultation to create the perfect piece that will become a family heirloom.

Gas Lamp Antique & Decorating Mall
Courtesy of Gas Lamp

What you’re here for: Classic home furnishings and antiques
Nashville’s largest antiques mall is so stocked with merchandise that they have expanded to a second location just down the street. Both are filled with more than 300 stalls stuffed with anything you could imagine to decorate your own home. Some concentrate on a particular era like Hollywood Regency or Mid-century Modern, while others focus on specific items like vintage barware, antique furniture, or timeless apparel. A shopping excursion through GasLamp involves a lot of walking, but it’s worth the trip.

The Kitchen Nashville
Courtesy of The Kitchen Nashville

What you’re here for: High-end kitchenware and cooking gear
Unlike kitchen stores that you’d find in a mall somewhere, The Kitchen is run by a Nashvillian who saw the need for a retail shop that could include kitchen products and tools made by locals along with the national brands. If you’re a fan of gadgets, they’ve got you covered there, too, with everything from melon ballers to tofu presses. The Kitchen also offers pantry items along with BYOB cooking classes taught by trained chefs.

Nashville Jam Session
Courtesy of Nashville Jam Session

What you’re here for: Fun music-related souvenirs to commemorate your visit to Nashville
Shopping at the airport? You bet! This fun little gift store is run by a touring musician who has played with major musical acts through the years, including Rick Springfield, Donna Summer, Wynonna Judd, and The Monkees. With that experience, he and his wife have curated a collection of music-themed souvenirs such as artwork painted on guitars and drum heads by the cartoonist who drew The Muppets and Nancy comics and a line of whimsical t-shirts with phrases like “Dibs on the Drummer.” It’s a great place to shop for the music lover in your life.

Chris Chamberlain is a food, drink, and travel writer. Follow him on Twitter @CeeElCee.