Heart and Hands: Carol Bennington

Imagine the most creative people you know in one room together. Can you picture it? That’s what you get when you walk into Heart and Hands on Main Street in downtown Franklin – a room bursting with collections of items hand-crafted with love and toiled over with time.

“We started Heart and Hands out of our love of creating,” says Carol Bennington, one of the store’s three owners. “When we share with you what we make with our hands, we share our Heart.”

It’s a store that includes several different vendors, but all the merchandise is mixed together so well that you’d never know there are more than 45 different people selling their handiwork here. Three different card makers are featured on the rack by the counter, and a different seller painted the pictures next to the children’s shoes. And in the back of the store, a separate specialty boutique, Patchwork Pantry, offers linens, antiques and other unique gifts. Heart and Hands is the store that makes sure no one is forced to give a gift card again.

“I just like making people happy, and I love selling something I made that they love,” Carol says. “The joy of having this shop is the freedom to create anything.”

The eclectic blend, which might include a light-up wine bottle a few feet away from a baby toy, works in Heart and Hands in a way that it may not in another shop. Carol’s co-owners, Cindy Lane and Sandra Thomas, help manage the store and also sell their products in the space. All of Heart and Hands’ employees are also

vendors, which helps keep the merchandise fresh and the atmosphere intimate.

“It’s like a family inside the store,” Carol says. “Every day, there’s always someone here who made something special.”

Maybe the best part of Heart and Hands is that every single product is made in Tennessee, from the heirloom angels and handmade jewelry to the jelly and dolls. Carol says there’s an ever-changing selection of painters, sewers, potters and jewelry makers.

“You can take a little bit of Tennessee home with you,” Carol says, who is an expert sewer. “It’s like a craft show seven days a week.”

Heart and Hands began in 1992, out of local artisans’ need for a place to sell their handcrafted treasures. They’ve had four locations in downtown Franklin over the years, but they’ve been at the 342 Main Street location since 2007.

“We love the atmosphere here,” Carol says. “It’s all about downtown.”

Carol, who moved the area from upstate New York, says the relocation was just what she needed – from the people to the weather.

“I didn’t know what I was missing!” Carol says with a laugh.

For more information, visit their website.