SScarlett Scales-Tingas may only be 29, but she’s been selling antiques for more than 18 years. Born into a family of “pickers,” Scarlett ran her own booth at an antique mall in middle school and opened Scarlett Scales Antiques in the only shotgun-style house in downtown Franklin when she was a sophomore at O’More College of Design.
“Both of my parents were collectors, so I grew up around it,” Scarlett said. “Early on I could recognize a good piece of antique furniture. It was natural to me.”
One of the most popular stores in downtown Franklin’s thriving antique district, Scales Antiques attracts visitors from all over the southeast. She recently expanded into a bigger building at 246 Second Avenue South, one brimming with an eclectic blend of antique and modern vintage that uses every nook and cranny to fill the sweeping space with unique trinkets and architectural lighting pieces. The rustic personality of the store is complemented by Scarlett’s ingenious decorating touches, like the antique maps that line the front hall ceiling or the birch wood that runs a room’s wall panel.
When Scarlett first opened shop, it was in the 600-square-foot building around the corner—one she used to bicycle by each week while delivering her goods to the Country Charm Antique Mall. When the building opened up in 2002, Scarlett was an interior design student at O’More. Though she was already swimming between class and her multiple-location booths, Scarlett grabbed the location and opened up Scales Antiques.
“I always thought I wanted to do interior design, but this is my passion,” she said.
Scarlett travels up and down the East Coast searching for those one-of-a-kind items that have attracted the attention of publications like Country Living. She buys and sells at auction houses and markets, making the trip to Massachusetts for the Brimfield Antique Show three times a year.
“The hunt is my favorite part of this,” she said. “Hitting the road and not knowing what you’re going to find. It’s the surprise element.”
Scarlett’s shop isn’t confined to home décor – it also has an apparel and accessories side that helps cater to a younger crowd. It offers gift lines and new products alongside the vintage pieces. Scarlett said it’s not unusual for a customer to buy a table and a sweater in one stop.
“It’s not your grandmother’s antiques,” she said. “It has a modern feel to it, so you get the best of both worlds.”
She references an iron and stone table that shows the stains of tea served on its surface for a hundred years, and a restored piece of furniture that had been shown a little too much love. You can feel the history in most items in the shop, like the Scarlett-designed metal lamp made from porch-railing spindles, or the industrial wheel-modeled mirror. There are stone-topped console tables made from old balustrade pieces, an Empire game table clad with zinc, and a circa-1900 cello case.
“It’s hard to put into words,” she said about the style of the store. “But I love stuff that has evidence of its history.”
Scarlett’s love for antiques can be largely attributed to her father. His antiquing “hobby became his habit” when he quit his government day job to concentrate on the business he had created. When he went out searching for new finds, Scarlett went with him.
“He was a picker before it became popular,” she said (American Pickers creator and star Mike Wolfe recently recommended Scarlett Scales Antiques in the Nashville Scene).
Scarlett’s family roots in Williamson County go back centuries. She grew up in Eagleville, when it was still in the county lines, in a plantation home that had been in her family during the 1800s. She’s lived in the Franklin area all her life, so it’s not surprising that she wants to stay where her heart – and the history – is.
“This is home to me, and I’m happy to be able to make a living sharing my passion with others who love this place.”
To learn more about Scarlett Scales Antiques, visit them at their store or go towww.scarlettscales.com. Store hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays, 1 p.m.-5 p.m. Sundays.