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Joan Furches, long-time proprietress of the Jonesborough Antique Mart in downtown, has discovered there is more to running her business than working with customers and sorting through inventory.
“We found ourselves dealing with ghosts,” Furches said.
Furches matter-of-factly discusses her encounters with unearthly beings, which she says inhabit her store.
Rather than being afraid, Furches says she is quite fascinated with the array of apparitions she and others have reported seeing in the store.
In a town once listed on the Travel Channel as one of the Top Ten Most Haunted Towns in America, Furches says several different ghosts have been sighted in her store.
She remembers the first time she saw what appeared to be a child sitting on a staircase.
“I saw a little girl, sitting by herself on the steps going up to the third floor,” Furches said. “She had her chin cupped in her hands and she was wearing a long dress and a bonnet. She was just sitting there like she was sad and then she just faded.”
Furches isn’t the only one who has reported having an encounter with a spirit in the mart.
A Nashville couple visiting the store several years ago suddenly bolted mid-conversation, leaving Furches wondering why they had seemed so anxious to get out of the store.
Later, she received a letter of apology from them and an explanation for the hasty exit.
They were sorry, they said, they had left so abruptly. But, the letter continued, they had experienced a spine-tingling encounter with “something.”
“According to what they told me,” Furches said, “the husband was across on the far side of the store near the steps. He was looking at some items when he said he heard a female voice call his full name. He said the ‘woman’ was so close behind him he could feel her breath on the back of his neck.”
“Thinking it was his wife, he turned, but no one was there,” Furches said. “Then he looked across the store and saw his wife standing near the front counter talking to me. He came across that store, grabbed her arm and said, ‘Let’s go.’ They practically ran out of here. I had no idea why until he sent that letter to me later, explaining the reason for their bizarre and hasty departure.”
Yet another visiting couple saw what they described as “a shadow that moved across the wall” in the upstairs area, Furches said.
“The woman told me that when she turned to get a better look, she saw a woman’s face in mid-air,” Furches added.
Perhaps the most sighted apparition at the antique store is a man, Furches says. Both Furches’ daughter, Lesa Greenlee Torbett, and long-time Antique Mart employee Wanda Teague have encountered an older gentleman “visitor.”
“The first time I saw him, it was close to Christmas,” Teague said. “We had closed for the evening. It was after dark and I was standing at the front counter, counting money.
“Something told me to just look up and when I did, there stood a tall thin man with thinning gray hair, just standing there looking at me.”
Teague described what she later came to believe was a ghost as dressed in bibbed overalls with a plaid shirt and wearing wire rim glasses.
“It scared me because I knew there was no one else in the store besides me and Mr. (George) Biddle (longtime Mart merchant). I looked away and when I looked back up, ‘he’ was gone.
“About that time, Mr. Biddle came down from upstairs and started to cut the lights off but I told him, ‘Don’t turn off the lights. There ‘s someone in here’.”
Teague said Biddle told her that was impossible, that he had been all over the store and no one else was there.
Teague thought Biddle must be mistaken. “We went all over the store and investigated every nook and cranny. But of course, no one was there.”
Furches said that Torbett also reported seeing the same figure, on another occasion, at the top of the ramp near the back of the store.
In order to gain more information concerning the ghostly appearances in her store, Furches engaged the services of paranormal professionals.
She contacted Appalachian Hauntings, owned by Jason and Dawn Jones, to come in and conduct a study.
After spending several hours in the building, Furches said they concluded that the store, which is comprised of two buildings, has two lead ghosts, a “lady” who stays on one side and takes care of all the ghosts on that side and a “man” who resides on the east side of the building to take care of ghostly residents there.
“But neither one crosses over into the other’s space,” Furches said she was told.
She also says that ghosts are also reported to travel with items from their homes – something that is a frequent occurrence at the antique mall.
The company was even able to photograph an eerie image resembling a human figure reflected in one of the store’s mirrors.
“We get different pieces of furniture and such from lots of different places, so I supposed they come in with it,” Furches said. “Then, when we sell it, I guess they just leave the same way they came.”