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River Mountain Antiques & Primitives works to offer more than what's expected

Katherine Scoggins • Mar 18, 2013 at 12:55 PM

Stepping through the door at River Mountain Antiques & Primitives, you might be struck by: 1) how much the place resembles stores in Asheville and 2) that it’s not just tables and pie safes - there are funky clothes and cool jewelry, too.

Owners Debbie and Reed Dykes have transformed 6,000 square feet of the former Dobyns Taylor store (120 Broad Street) into an emporium of items ranging from tiny onsies and tees for infants to towering iron garden arbors to vintage bamboo fishing rods to furniture to original artwork (by local artists Margaret Helvey and Brenda Bundrant), and pottery to linen dresses, jewelry made from recycled materials - and many other interesting things.

Retired teachers, the Dykes had sold a small selection of antiques and furniture throughout their teaching years, so the move to full-time shop owners was always “the plan.”

Four years ago, they opened their first store in Downtown Kingsport on Commerce Street. A year later, they moved into their current location on Broad Street.

“We were attracted by the downtown revitalization efforts that were going on,” says Debbie. “People are slowly coming back downtown to eat and to shop. Usually the first words out of their mouths when they come in are ‘I had no idea all this was downtown!’ They’re surprised - in a good way.”

It’s difficult deciding where to look first when entering the store: colorful and unusual goodies beckon from the windows, tiny stuffed animals, candles and lanterns are tucked into solid wood chests or on painted tables. Racks of linen and cotton tunics, colorful scarves, dresses, jumpers and pants from such lines as Flax, Sacred Threads, Chalet, Cut loose, Zashi and Rising International, share space with glass cases of hand-crafted silver and beaded jewelry, new bestseller Ozone socks, and racks of organic cotton and bamboo “onesies” and tiny T-shirts for babies from Small Plum.

Midway through the store, furniture takes its turn with antique chests and Victorian hall trees, old toys, and vintage glassware, but the stars of the show have to be the “rock tables” and refurbished railroad carts, both specialties of Reed Dykes. A vintage Lineberry Foundry and Furniture Co. in North Wilkesboro, N.C., railroad cart has been “cleaned up a little,” according to Dykes, “one has an ash top and walnut pegs, the other is slightly more rustic. The iron wheels are sturdy and in good shape.”

These very unique items were used to haul luggage or heavy freight through railroad stations, but today they are often used as coffee tables in industrial style lofts. Gnarled, slow-growth cedar bases support organic siltstone, perfect for lakehouses, cabins, and decks (and yes, you can take them outside!).

An upstairs area has just opened, displaying the wares of 10 vendors. Amid the old Dobyns Taylor signs and exposed lathe and brick are iron arbors, benches, planters, artwork, outdoor rugs, stained glass, gardening implements, as well as more items for the home.

Throughout the store, there are many other treasures waiting to be discovered. Visit River Mountain Antiques & Primitives, Tuesdays through Fridays, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The shop is open until 7 p.m. on First Thursdays of each month. Call 423-247-8663, or check them out on Facebook.

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