Story published: 12-11-2012 • Print ArticleE-mail Story to a Friend

Antique Mart to host final cash mob

In what once served as a hardware store nearly 150 years ago, sits a treasured storefront that is one of the oldest operating businesses in the oldest town in Tennessee.

That story started nearly 50 years ago with an old fashioned general store.

Joan Furches is a woman full of determination and knew exactly what she wanted when she decided to open up a store in Jonesborough with her husband, Jim.

She had a job at J.C Penney as a catalog supervisor, and after encouragement from her supervisor, the couple sold their car and house to open up an old five & dime store in the heart of Jonesborough called Furches Variety.

“My first store was an old fashioned general store,” Joan said. “We sold everything from mousetraps to dresses.”

After several successful years in the business, the Furches’ were faced with an economic downturn in Jonesborough during the 1970s when the town underwent major construction.

“I really am proud of the workers during the most recent construction this year. I’ve seen two major projects during my time here in Jonesborough as a store owner. The one in the 70s was a lot worse,” Joan said. “There was mud everywhere and we had to walk on planks to get to our stores.”

Since there was a decrease in traffic trying to avoid the construction, Joan was not sure if Furches Variety could compete with big box retailers. After divorcing her husband and ending their business partnership, Joan found herself with a new endeavor: Emporium Antiques. Not only did she operate a successful business in town, but Joan stayed extremely busy organizing events.

“My daughter and I started the Halloween event and I also worked the Progressive Dinner for 20 years,” Joan said. “I remember all the merchants were one big family, we just made everything a fun party.”

Then, the popular Jonesborough Antique Mart was born and Joan found her niche as she settled into the antique dealer business.

“I saw that antiques were beginning to get popular, and I decided I needed a bigger store,” Joan said. “I never borrowed any money to expand the store, I just made it on my own.”

Growing to nearly 30 dealers, with several operating two or three booths on the two floors of the store, the Antique Mart carries items for nearly every age, including collectables for children.

“We have such a variety of things in here ranging from glassware, retro items, Victorian clothing, great furniture and the popular early Flow Blue China,” Joan said. “One week we’ll have someone come in looking for tools, the next week maybe an armoire or other collectables.

Prices in the Jonesborough Antique Mart range from less than $1 for candy or marbles to $12,000 for a vintage Wooton desk.

Merchandise changes nearly every day and Joan encourages customers to check back frequently for new items and dealers.

“My favorite part is just meeting the people and giving them a nice warm Jonesborough welcome,” Joan said. “I love talking to them and finding out what they are interested in.”

By following her dream and trusting in her Christian faith, Joan has been able to overcome several obstacles along the way.

“Even this past year I was faced with a difficult situation as the economy took a turn for the worse. I worried myself sick about the store and what to do,” Joan said. “After I prayed about it, two weeks later the Lord came to my rescue, business had picked up and a couple new dealers rented spaces in the store. Things at the shop have been great ever since.”

The Jonesborough Antique Mart, 115 E. Main St., will host the final cash mob of the town’s We Dig Jonesborough campaign at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 15.

A cash mob finale will take place that same day, at 3 p.m. in front of hte downtown courthouse. During the finale, a grand prize valued at more than $1,000 will be given away. The prize includes numerous gift certificates and items from Jonesborough. All those who took part in the weekly cash mobs over the last five months are entered to win.