Once upon a time, American communities boasted a plethora of privately owned “mom and pop” stores that carried unique items guaranteeing no two were the same. Often they were operated by local residents whom you knew by name and, more importantly, knew yours along with your interests. Eventually big name corporations would arrive and wipe most of them out by featuring standard merchandise (usually cheaper) via large retail stores that enticed busy consumers with the luxury of a “one stop shop.” The dawn of the Internet would present further challenges as online sales and auctions made tracking down even the most elusive item as simple as the press of a button. Though we may have an easier time heading to our nearest Walmart or ordering something from the comfort of our homes, there will always be something lost in doing so. Those of us who grew up in a world dominated by private businesses know full well that there was a sort of ambiance being inside their musty walls and surrounded by a cornucopia of like-items you could see with your own eyes and touch with your hands. Say what you will about convenience, it will never compare with the full immersive “experience” these places offered.
One of the things that amazes me is how certain stores continue to thrive whereas others selling the very same thing fail. A magic/novelty store is very specialized and if you don’t have the clientele, this type of business is doomed to go out of business. Thankfully, these stores that have succeeded have found that capitalizing on things like holidays helps keep the business going year round. Though they may have started out selling only magic and novelties, things like Halloween masks and costumes are now what helps make the business thrive.
This was very evident at Caufield’s Novelties. One room contained both the magic tricks and novelties (as well as lighting equipment). Three rooms were devoted to Halloween costumes, masks and props. Being a fan of Halloween this is not a bad thing at all. With stores like SPIRIT dominating the Halloween business in October, it is nice to see a mom and pop store like Caufield’s carrying so much more, and of better quality, than anything that SPIRIT ever carries.
While on our 2015 Terror Dave road trip, we visited many things and had many discussions. On April 3rd we headed to one of the world’s largest bats in Louisville, KY (and I am not talking about the 120 foot baseball bat that stands outside of the Louisville Slugger Museum). Those that know us are aware of the fact that sports rate very low on our list of priorities so that when the Daves go to see the world’s largest bat, you can bet it is either something zoological or something scary.
On the morning of Thursday April 2nd we bid Chattanooga a fond goodbye before heading out towards Tennessee’s Smokey Mountains. The journey was highlighted by numerous forests, hills, and rivers which became even more scenic once the famed mountains appeared in the distance. It was a cloudy day with some fog which made them every bit as “smokey” looking as their name implies. Everything we saw that morning was picturesque until we entered the town of Pigeon Forge and it seemed as if we’d crash landed on another planet!
While we were dining with Dr. Gangrene in Nashville, we asked him if he knew of any cool places to visit in Chattanooga. “Well,” he said. “A friend of mine told me about a place called Aretha Frankenstein’s. I hear they’ve got great food and atmosphere.”
He’d had us with the word “Frankenstein.”
On Thursday April 1, 2015 we were scheduled to get a tour of The Tennessee Aquarium but had little else on the agenda. Originally we were supposed to do Rock City & Ruby Falls but managed to take care of both the day before. Now we had some rare time to kill and what made that even nicer was that we were staying in one location without having to drive more than thirty minutes at a time. Still, it was April Fool’s Day, and what better way to celebrate than by having a couple of fools like us seek out one of the weirdest houses known to man!
Both of us Daves are huge fans of Quentin Tarantino’s GRINDHOUSE films; Planet Terror and Death Proof! Though the majority of movie-goers didn’t quite grasp the whole concept, these films were a pitch-perfect homage to the cheap, drive-in movie exploitation films of the early ‘70s. Aside from that, both movies are the kind we both can (and do) watch multiple times even though they’re very different in terms of content. While searching for interesting stops on our 2015 road trip, I discovered that one of the black 1971 Chevrolet Nova SS 396’s used in the film would be only minutes away from the hotel we were staying at in Jackson, Tennessee. Consequently, we would become as obsessed about seeking it out as Zoe Bell’s character in the film was for a 1970 Dodge Challenger!