When you visit Emery's 5&10 in The Island complex in Pigeon Forge, your first impression is that this is a new store, and it is. But the concept behind Emery's, and many of fixtures and displays are several decades old, and for you the shopper, this is a good thing.
Ron Emery is a third generation retailer, growing up in the stores that his father ran and his grandfather created and built. He tells how Emery's started in Knoxville on Vine Street - which is now Summit - because his granddaddy saw where the farmers parked their buggies and trucks when they came to town on Saturday. They parked down on Central where the stables used to be and they walked right up Vine Street right by Emery's, and many came inside. Whenever Ron's granddaddy would open a store he would go to the town, stand downtown, and watch the traffic. Where it was the busiest is where he opening another Emery's.
Emery's 5& 10 grew to 50 stores throughout the southeast, and peaked during the 1950's. Ron's daddy wanted his father to expand the stores to continue the growth, but the founder was content with what he knew. He knew what square footage worked, how much merchandise he had to order to fill the store, and how much he would have to invest, so they stayed with what they had. In the 1970's and '80's,
Wal-Mart was developing and expanding and they were buying up many of the traditional five and dime stores like Big-K and Kresge's, and even Emery's. They liquidated in 1983 and Ron had to find a new concept, so he opened Emery's 5&10 on the southeast side of Knoxville, TN.
Emery's existed in Knoxville until 2014 when they were approached by a new shopping and entertainment complex that was developing a stalled project in the heart of Pigeon Forge. They wanted Emery's for its uniqueness and Ron Emery's knowledge and expertise in retail, so Emery's 5&10 opened up in The Island in 2015. Ron said, "We opened two months late but when I brought in all of the displays and merchandise from the other store, everything seemed to fit perfectly. People said, 'Wow, you're a genius!', but I think it was all part of God's plan. This is God's store and he will do with it what he wants with it."
If you haven't been there, Emery's 5&10 carries a wide-range of unique, unusual and quality items ranging from American-made food items, European linens and French soaps, cast iron kitchen-ware from Chattanooga, TN, gardening tools from Holland, new and nostalgic toys and 180 different sodas and root beers. Emery's is a destination attraction all its own, but it is still the place for locals to shop for that special gift or distinct kitchen ware.
Check back to this blog for more stories on Emery's 5&10 and the varied and unusual shops you can find in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. Find out more about the Smokies and get coupons at www.bestreadguidesmokymountains.com/.