When you see a store called “Cool Stuff Weird Things” you expect something out of the ordinary.
And that is just the vibe that Skip McPherson has created in the quirky Charlotte Pike store he opened 15 years ago.
You will find vintage furniture and clothing, metal signage, Mid Century Modern pieces, license plate guitars signage, postcards, posters, vinyl, tons of jewelry, a giant buffalo head, 7×7 foot buffalo rugs, cow skulls, distressed Betsy Ross flags, cigar boxes, a two-headed doll — and so on.
And Elvis stands guard proudly out in front welcoming patrons to this offbeat retail fixture that is a “go to” place not just for locals but more and more for tourists too.
“People love it because it is different,” said McPherson who calls his store “a crazy collection of stuff.”
And it is that for sure – whether you are looking for last minute holiday gifts or year round quirky collectibles.
McPherson told me that he had always wanted to own an eclectic store, and 15 years ago, after a career of singing and entertaining at The Stockyards and on the road with George Jones and others (his stage name was Skip Towne), he made it happen with the unlikely opening of his Cool Stuff Weird Things.
“I had been on the road and I needed a change,” said McPherson, who said after he signed a lease on the boarded up 1914 building on Charlotte, he filled it with yard sale leftovers from a big indoor fundraiser sale at Montgomery Bell Academy.
“That’s how I got my start. I bought everything they had left over (for $150) and filled up the store. It was 20 truckloads and it was everything from clothes and books to a treadmill and all kinds of household things like a mixer and kitchen items.
“I did $700 the first day. I told people ‘if you want something tell me and I will give you a price.’
“It’s not a yard sale anymore. It has become a tourist destination,” he said, noting that over the years, he has become much more discriminating as he focuses on featuring truly unusual pieces.
As a result, the store’s inventory has morphed from yard sale general merchandise to quirky items and in more recent years to items that appeal to tourists as well as locals.
“ ’Cool stuff and weird things’ just about sums it up. I like things that people will see and say ‘cool!’ I’m looking for the ‘Wow’. “
“I like it to be off the wall. My store is about unique found objects. You never know what you might find,” he said.
The question he is often asked is “where do you get this stuff?” And honestly, he’s not very forthcoming on that subject.
When pressed, he does admit that he has “pickers” and that other people bring things to the store for consideration. And he says that he does go out looking for store worthy items when he can.
“I know it when I see it. I’m a bulldog when it comes to getting stuff. I have many, many secret places, secret sources. If I told you where I got it, it wouldn’t be near as cool,” he said. “I like the mystery of it.”
A year-round big seller is his line of light-up metal signs that say Music City or Nashville or Dolly which he has priced at $199.99 to $299.99 and often sells to Airbnb’s or tourists. At the other end of the price spectrum are his 45 rpm records that sell for $5 each and albums that mostly sell for $3.
Other good finds in the store are ugly Christmas sweaters, a rack of vintage clothing, and “tons of jewelry” including some vintage pieces and a box of single earrings for a buck apiece.
He also sells logoed T-shirts ($12) that say “Cool Stuff Weird Things, Nashville.”
“People wanted T-shirts so I had T-shirts made,” he said. “We sell hundreds of them.”
And if you wonder about the larger-than-life Elvis out front, he is NOT for sale. “A friend gave him to me right after I opened,” said McPherson, who said selfies and other photos with Elvis are a daily occurrence. “You can see that Elvis is still drawing a crowd,” he said.
McPherson clearly loves his business. “I’m real proud of the store,” he said. “It is a labor of love and I do love it.”
Mary Hance, who has four decades of journalism experience in the Nashville area, writes a weekly Ms. Cheap column. She also appears on Thursdays on Talk of the Town on NewsChannel5. Reach her at [email protected] and follow her on Facebook as Facebook.com/mscheap
• 4900 Charlotte Pike across from Richland Park
• Open 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. seven days a week but hours are “subject to change.”
• Details: 615-460-1112 or coolstuffweirdthings.com/
• The website (coolstuffweirdthings.com) sums it up: “You never know what you’ll find at Cool Stuff Weird Things. Not just another junk store. Oh no, this is a very cool place with very cool things and where cool people go. You can find things to decorate your house or things to give your friends.”