There are timeless treasures stashed everywhere in the Winchester Antique Mall. Propped against a table, hung from the ceiling, nailed to the wall – quality pieces of history fill the charming two-story house where people from all over come to shop.
Owner Kim Tuzzio has been operating from the location on Bridge Street for 23 years, in what has become a celebrated antique district in downtown Franklin.
“Being in a home is cozy,” Kim says. “The charm is what drew me here.”
The small area’s earned a reputation as “The New Antique Capital of Tennessee,” with more than 15 businesses and hundreds of dealers located within just a few blocks. The 4,000-square-foot Winchester is known for its European pieces, but is home to dealers specializing in everything from early Americana collectibles to French-style furniture to architectural pieces.
“Every booth is different,” Kim says. “We’re specific about each one, and it’s mainly true antiques. People appreciate that.”
Because Winchester is a little off the beaten path of Main Street, Kim says they make a point to be distinctive, a reason for their exclusivity and variety. Her smile stretches when she talks about Winchester’s unique offerings, including paintings by local artists, re-purposed artifacts, hand-stitched chandelier shades, and statement pieces.
Walking room to room, she points out a hand-made, distressed coffee table, a French-style mirror attached to weathered barn wood, and a table made out of an old sewer top – all examples of dealers who have melded old and new.
And they’ve enjoyed some well-deserved attention. Dealers in Kim’s mall have been featured recently in magazines throughout the South, including Southern Living, Country Living, Country Home, and Flea Market Style. Famous faces frequent Winchester’s door frame, searching for the treasures they’ve heard about.
Kim says that, once upon a time, she worried about the younger generation’s waning interest, but she’s been amazed at how they’ve latched on to mixing antiques with modern furniture. She says younger people often come in looking for authentic items they saw as replications in popular stores.
“It’s become trendy again, so we have to keep up with that,” Kim says. “And I think moms have taught their daughters to appreciate it.”
Winchester’s dealers range in age and experience, and they offer items from around the globe. Dealers in their 20s set up alongside others who have been in the business since before they were born.
Kim’s own mother is the source of her passion for antiques, often taking her “junking” in the family Volkswagen. She inherited her mother’s tastes.
“She taught me how to mix old and new with style,” Kim says.
And while Winchester is located in the heart of “The New Antique Capital of Tennessee,” Kim doesn’t mind the competition.
“We play off each other,” she says of the other antique stores in the district.
This camaraderie is one of the reasons Kim fell in love with Franklin. She moved to the town with “vibrant energy” in 1984, and she says that, over and over, the visitors that walk through her doors say they came for the same reason she did – the small-town feel and neighborly warmth of Franklin.
“They tell me that everyone from Franklin seems to genuinely care about them,’” Kim says. “Franklin’s got that special feel.”