Another option in Franklin, Tenn. — after you’ve checked out the historic downtown area — is The Factory, www.factoryatfranklin.com. It’s a renovated 80-year-old factory full of shops and eateries as well as artists’ spaces set up in the walkways sort of like an arts-and-crafts show. The developer wanted this to be a creative as well as commercial center, and it is. Even though The Factory is an enclosed mall, you’ll feel as if you’re strolling along a hometown Main Street and shopping with local family
businesses — no Gap or American Eagle here. Don’t miss: Stoveworks Restaurant, with incredibly delicious bite-sized spoon rolls served in a basket; Constant Craving Carryout, where you can pick up fresh gourmet food to eat there or take home for supper; and Frisky Berry Coffee Co., where a guitar-strumming folksinger will accompany your afternoon cappuccino. Hmm … food and drink seems to be a theme for me here. But you actually can shop and buy things, too. Probably one of the most “famous” retailers at The Factory is The Viking Store, www.vikingcookingschool.com. Folks come from all over to take cooking classes here and buy some of those wonderful didn’t-know-I-needed-it-’til-I-saw-it kitchen tools (but the store’s being remodeled now and inventory is low). There’s also an antique shop, a consignment store, art galleries, a smocking shop and a couple women’s boutiques as well as, luckily for grandparents, toy stores and an upscale children’s clothing shop.
As a working factory, the building has housed Dortch Stove Works and Magic Chef, and The Factory pays tribute to those roots with touches such as vintage appliances, retro home decor and this oversized wreath decorated with kitchen essentials. (Note my suitcase-like green purse on the bench below for size comparison!)
The exterior of The Factory is landscaped beautifully, and the renovation work to what could have been a dump is a must-see. The Factory is a great place to spend the day. I met friends there at 11 a.m. and we stayed until at least 4 p.m. — talking, eating and wandering around. It seems that’s sort of what the space is meant for: people meeting and greeting and enjoying themselves. And, oh yes, buying things!