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By JENNIFER RAYMOND
A store in downtown Rockwood is filled wall to wall with items from the past — and each has its own story.
Old Tennessee license plates, hats, clocks, old signs, pictures and other paraphernalia adorn the walls of C&B Trading Post, where brothers Bill Wright and Charles Carter buy, sell and trade antiques.
For three and a half years, the men have enjoyed sharing the stories of those relics — and their own stories — with folks who drop by at 200 W. Rockwood St.
While the merchandise might be in the store for a while longer, the days of the brothers hanging out and waiting for business are numbered.
Wright and Carter are closing C&B’s doors at the end of the month.
“The economy is one thing,” said Wright, adding he believes Rockwood is depressed.
Carter chimed in, “We ain’t in no recession in Rockwood, we’re in a depression.”
And the tax increases aren’t helping, Wright said.
“Tax rates should go down in what we’re in,” he added.
The brothers said their ages are also a factor in shutting the business. The men are in their 60s and 70s.
“We’re dried up,” Wright said with a smirk.
Once the store closes, Wright said he will continue to sell the merchandise only by appointment to liquidate merchandise.
“It’s going to take me a while to liquidate,” he said.
The big open room in his store is full of items he has obtained over the years. But more merchandise can be seen in the three back rooms.
One of Wright’s finds originally hung in front of a now-closed Harriman eatery.
The Old Hickory Cafe sign was rusting in an old building. It has since been restored and the original Pepsi Cola logo was repainted on it.
Wright said the design of the logo indicates how old the sign is.
Two dots between the words “Pepsi” and “Cola” mean that the sign dates back to 1951 and older, he said.
Wright said he has had the antiques anywhere from a couple days to more than 10 years.
“Selling is a waiting game,” he noted.
Wright has been in the business of buying original antiques for almost 30 years.
“I’ve always liked antiques,” Wright said.
And Wright said he has never sold a reproduction — and he can tell when something is not an original.
He opened his first antique store in 1979 in a building he built by hand on Hwy. 27. He then moved across from Potter’s Ace Hardware.
In his many years of antiquing, he has acquired things from estate sales, yard sales and locally.
“You find it where you can find it,” Wright said.
Having been in the business for quite some time, he’s starting to come across items that he sold years ago.
“I sold to parents and I’m buying them back from their kids,” Wright said.
He also has many stories to tell and said he has sold items to people that someone in their family had made.
One time, Wright acquired a dulcimer that was made out of a door.
A man came into the store and just happened to come across the four-stringed musical instrument. It turned out that dulcimer was made by his grandfather, whose initials were carved into the wood.
Wright has come across many unique items in his time.
“I’ve bought anything from a penny to a Rolls-Royce,” he said.
A wooden corner cabinet sits in one of the rooms.
The cabinet, which dates back to the early 1900s, was made by Charlie S. Haga, who worked at the Rockwood First National Bank for years, Wright said.
He also has numerous handmade pitchers that are from the 1820s to 1840s. The pitchers were made from clay that was lying near creeks and were sold to farmers. Depending on the color of the jug, one can tell where the clay came from.
“This is Tennessee clay,” Wright said of the dark, blue-gray color of the pitcher.
Wright said the pitchers can garner from $100 to $50,000.
Since he announced the closing, Wright said he has had a lot of lookers, but not many buyers.
He added that he would guess that about 20 percent of Roane Countians buy antiques and are interested in them.
“You either love antiques or you hate them,” Wright said.
The brothers buy, sell and trade at the post. The store is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.