What will you find in Ashport Bottom?
When you think of Ripley, Tennessee, do you think of tomatoes?
What else comes to mind?
Do you think of the square downtown? Do you think of all the shops there?
If you don’t think of that when it comes to Ripley, you should start. But, there is one shop, just one, in particular, you need to know about. It’s a shop that’s filled with all kinds of goodies that you may not normally find in West Tennessee.
There are all kinds of interesting things you can find at Ashport Bottom. This store is a fine connoisseur of many hand-made items such as hats, cards, jewelry, stained glass, and more. They also carry purses(vintage and new), hand-crafted bowls, and stunning art.
Established in November of 2018, Kathy and Harry Brown work in the shop at the behest of Rebecca Mills. The name of the shop comes from the neighboring town of Ashport Bottom. It’s a farming community where Tennessee meets the Mississippi River. There aren’t many people living there now, but it’s a tight community where the kudzu grows and houses stand on stilts. The folks at the store say that it has “as much richness as Ashport does,” and it’s that richness they want to bring back to Ripley. They want Ripley to be like it was in its heyday; a lot of traffic on the square especially on Saturday’s and Saturday nights.
Ashport Bottom came to Ripley thanks to Kathy and Harry moving back from Chicago in March of 2018. The space the store is in was burned in a fire, but from those ashes, Coy Cary rebuilt the space that Ashport Bottom now calls home. Rebecca had a lot of stuff that she thought people would be interested in, so Kathy and Harry contacted vendors and local artists so they could set-up shop. Kathy told us that they had “started off with 4 or 5 artists, but now it's increased to 16. Even though most of them are, not all are from Ripley; two are from Memphis and one from Asheville, North Carolina.”
Harry broke in, adding, “It’s a way for local craftsmen to display their items and then have an opportunity to sell them. I think we’ve all been amazed at the talent that is in the county that you just don’t even know about.”
The original art in the shop is from all over the world, not just local artisans. When Rebecca goes on vacation, she keeps an eye out for things that may strike the fancy of people who wander into the shop. A recent trip to Panama brought back all kinds of jewelry, paintings, and other accessories. Berlin gave the shop some paintings and purses from the post-Berlin-wall art movement. “We feel the original art is what sets us apart. It’s kind of a dowry.”
Everything on the shelves in the shop is for sale from the purses and jewelry to the scarves and hats as well as the antiques and glassware. The vintage purses are also a type of art that they enjoy having in the shop. However, there is one purse, in particular, that is really unique; the Mary Frances rhinestone bubble gum machine handbag is a purse that is rare, a one of a kind find for our area. You can also find name brands such as purses by designers Michael Kors, Mario Hernandez, and the late Kate Spade.
Ashport Bottom’s merchandise is as eclectic and varied as its artisans. Ms. Eddie Bryant does stained glass creations such as cheese platters. Steve Carmack and Joe Carmack create wooden bowls. Melissa Davidson designs cards for all occasions. Julie Ditto concocts body scrubs and Donna Ewell spins and shapes all variety of pottery. Milliner Susan Forbess fashions custom hats. Celeste Henry makes jewelry in a variety of mediums. Kathy Mills paints watercolor reproductions on her cards. Kenny Pilcher uses recycled materials to sculpt fish and Suzy Hendrix also does large stained glass sculptures. Jack Robinson sells black and white archival photographs pulled from Robinson Gallery. Pamela Kingsley Seay recreates her one-of-a-kind, original watercolors on cards as well as giclee prints. Dolph Smith sells his books and Courtney Thompson fashions stone necklaces. Teri Bordages sells shower steamers and soy candles. Ashport Bottom is a one-of-a-kind, special boutique that holds artistic creations great and small. If you're looking for a one of a kind addition for yourself or a gift, come on out to Ripley. You’ll never know what you’ll find at Ashport Bottom.
Ashport Bottom is located at 123 W Jackson Ave, Ripley, TN 38063. They can be reached at (731) 635-1759. The store is upstairs but has wheelchair accessibility. Hours are Monday through Friday 10-4 and Saturday 10-2.