Serious Shopping in the Smoky Mountains

By: Jackie Eurice-Kenney
A bakery counter near Pigeon Forge, TN

Shopping is a serious pastime in the Smoky Mountains. Visitors love to explore and find unique items to bring home as mementos of their fabulous vacation. Perhaps something featuring a black bear or a locally made artwork depicting the mountains and native wildlife will fulfill that desire. Others may want to scour the region for great deals, and items they can’t find at home. Whether it’s a new outfit or long-lasting cookware, you can find it in the cities and towns surrounding the Smoky Mountains.

Cast iron has proven to be one of the best materials to use in your kitchen as a cooking vessel. Once the cast iron is seasoned, it will produce great sears on steaks and other meats. A Dutch oven is perfect for slow-cooking a stew or a roast in either the oven or over a campfire. And these pans are very easy to clean—just wipe clean in water. Plus, these pans can last for generations if they are properly cared for. Lodge Cast Iron is the most reputed manufacturer of this cookware with beginnings in Tennessee. Stores are currently located in Pigeon Forge and Sevierville.

For a unique shopping excursion, visit The Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community. Here, you’ll find a collection of handcrafted items for sale all in one place. Nowhere else in America has a gathering of artisans quite like this 8-mile loop, just a few miles east of Gatlinburg. This extensive shopping area has hosted hundreds of artisans and craftsmen since the 1930s. You'll find nearly everything you never knew you needed including silver, scrimshaw, baskets, candles, and fashionable clothing and accessories. The vendors not only sell their wares, but they often offer demonstrations so you can see the immense skill involved in creating these magnificent pieces. Get a hand-carved likeness of the region’s iconic black bear or take home a one-of-a-kind oil painting that perfectly captures the sunrise you saw while hiking in the national park. Those who enjoy sewing or textile arts may like shopping for a new quilt or lace décor for the home. Even custom leather goods and newly forged knives can be purchased in the Arts & Crafts Community. And if you get hungry while meandering through all of these shops, be sure to visit the café, tea room or some of the other vendors who sell distinctive foods for a delicious snack.

The cities surrounding the park are also quite fashionable. At Tanger Outlets in Sevierville, you’ll find some of the nation's top designers. There are over 75 stores where you can browse the aisles and clothing racks for upscale styles at unbelievable prices. The entire family will love Tanger Outlets for the great selection of clothing but also for everything they could possibly want or need such as toys, home décor, sports equipment, and even interesting food items. And on the Parkway in Pigeon Forge, there’s a location where even your child’s American Doll can find a new, American-made outfit. There really is something for everyone!

Over 100,000 items can be found at great prices at the Old Time Pottery in Pigeon Forge. This vast store sells more than just pottery—you’ll find decorations for the home including flower arrangements, paintings, furniture and even holiday décor. The family may like new bedding sets at bargain prices, and even their pets can have a new place to lay their heads with the ample supply of pet products that are for sale. And with a name that includes “pottery,” it should not be surprising that there are hundreds of kitchen and dining pieces to choose from. Cookware, bakeware, plates, goblets, silverware, and linens for the table are housed in this often-visited store.

If you’re on the North Carolina side of the Smoky Mountains, you may want to shop in Cherokee — a sovereign Indian nation. At the Qualla Arts and Crafts Mutual, Inc., you’ll find a variety of handmade artworks that promote and preserve the Cherokee way of life. You can bring home an item that was created using timeless traditions and unlike anything you could possibly purchase elsewhere. Whether you prefer carvings, weavings, pottery or sculpture, there is an individually created objet d’art that will captivate your heart.

As your trip nears its end, you may want to start searching for a small token to take home. Affordable gifts and souvenirs can be found at country stores such as those found at The Old Mill Square shopping complex, the Tie Dye Store, or The Island Trading Post. Choose from Smoky Mountain-themed items including coffee mugs, hats, shirts, and magnets that will remind you of quality family time in Tennessee. It’s nearly impossible to leave without a souvenir featuring a black bear or Dolly Parton. Plus, they have large selections of famous collectibles, toys and jewelry. Or, if you need a tasty gift for someone back home, pick up some homemade fudge at The Fudgery or a savory snack from Try My Nuts Company. Their decadent gift packages are a great way to thank someone for watching the pets, plants and the house while you were away—or a nice indulgence for yourself!

Enjoy browsing both the traditional and eclectic stores that can be found throughout this region. You'll love the quality, selection and appeal of the products that come from the Great Smoky Mountains!