Trestle Side Antiques may be new to downtown Ringgold, having opened there in December, but it continues a historic tradition of running an old-fashioned business inside the store building that dates back to 1860, when it was Clark Brothers Hardware.
"In 1861, when the troops came through, this building was gutted by fire," said Trestle Side Antiques co-owner Andrea LeMay. "The brick walls are 15 inches thick and slave-made with stacked bricks. When the building was gutted, the brick walls remained. Sometime after that it became Rollins Checkerboard Feed and Seed. It's been a furniture and antique store since then."
Visitors to the store today are greeted by a "man'tiques" section to the left entrance.
"We put it there for a reason, so that when guys walk in they will decide to stay and shop too," said LeMay. "If a lady buys something for her husband, then when he asks how much she spent she can say, 'Oh, but look what I bought you too.'"
Her own husband, store co-owner John LeMay, enjoys shopping with her for antiques at stores and malls, she said.
"We have a nonprofit and a lot of people brought us antiques that we could not move, so when I found out this antique store was for sale, we bought it," said LeMay. "My nonprofit is Thy Kingdom Come Memorial. We are working on a general fund to bury children for people that can't afford to bury them. Some parents sign their child over to a hospital when [the child] is ill, and if [the child] dies then the nonprofit funds could provide burial services."
Her homemade wind chimes made of dangling silverware and garden flowers made from plates and vases, both of which are sold in the store, help fund the nonprofit. Some of the independent vendors renting space in the store donate a portion of their profits to charities too, LeMay said.
One such vendor is "Debbie." Her husband is in the military, so she creates repurposed antique signs that say "2nd Amendment" on them and gives a portion of the proceeds to assist military veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder.
"Upstairs is Debbie's booth," said LeMay. "She is a recycler. If she buys a rocking chair with a missing seat, she weaves men's ties together to create a seat. When her grandfather died, she tossed his ties onto a rocking chair and it gave her the idea. She can use other people's loved ones' ties to create a seat in rocking chairs for them to remember their loved one too."
If a customer buys a bear with a purple heart on it, the funds go to buy more bears for the autistic children one shopper who is also a therapist brings in to shop, according to LeMay.
For the antique connoisseur, a popular item in the store is a French Provincial Dixie Cabaret bedroom suite in green apple with a lighted desk, dressers, lingerie chest and bed with canopy. The store also showcases Duncan Fife furniture, Queen Anne-style tables and chairs, a solid cherry dining room set, old antique frames ready to be remodeled, and lamps and lamp shades.
"We have so many people that say we have great prices," said John LeMay. "We have 12 vendors and more space is available for more vendors."
His wife also owns an accounting practice, and she said she wants to give back through the antique store and nonprofit.
"We like being a part of the Ringgold Downtown Partners because we want to get Ringgold to thrive like Blue Ridge," said Andrea LeMay. "We would like people to flock to shop here. It's important to us to keep the money in Ringgold. It's fun to stop by Trestle Side Antiques because everything changes."