Ah, Knoxvillians... Bless our sweet-tea-swilling, backyard-grilling, orange-and-white-cheering hearts! Here, in the Maker City, we don’t mind a little red on our necks and a whole lot of blue in our grass. But nowadays (during these Mad Max-esque times), the only color we see is gray.
The quarantine has been tough on all Knoxvillians. Sure, there ain’t no smoggy smoke on Rocky Top... but we sure as hell got to keep paying those Verizon bills!
We are a proud community, self-conscious of who we are and what we love. We are a strong tribe of creatives, entrepreneurs and kind-hearted souls.
Chances are you’ve heard it said – or sung – that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Well, I recently came across a new take on the phrase, courtesy of the one and only Dolly Parton: “Storms make trees take deeper roots.”
Here are 12 examples of people & local businesses going through the storm and making deeper roots:
1) Paris Woodhull & WRTHY | Wash Your Hands Tee
Knoxville superstar artist, Paris Woodhull, teamed up with Christine of WRTHY to forge one unforgettable tee. These bad boys are limited supply, because each shirt is hand cut and sewn by Christine and printed by Paris! Go on, wear these shirts at Kroger and point to the Gal on the Horse when, inevitably, someone gets too close.
Wanna be fashionable AND support two cool Knoxvillians? Sure you do! Grab your tee.
Also, be sure to check out Parris Woodhull’s other imaginative goodies and Christine of WRTHY’s Instagram!
2) Rala | Get Creative, Knoxville
Speaking of artists and beautiful imagery... Allow me to present you a treasure trove of craft and culture: Rala Knoxville. I double-dog dare you to online-peruse this fountain of creativity and not be inspired! Rala features original art, letterpress prints, unique greeting cards and contemporary jewelry.
Bored at home? Stop whittling that stick for no reason (like, really, why are you even doing that?) and comb through Rala’s online assortment of puzzles, games and books. Bet that man cave or basement is smelling real ripe right about now… Rala has got you covered with some curbside pickup candles.
Follow Rala on Instagram for a bit of inspiration on the daily.
3) A Dopo Pizza | Pizza Done Right in the Time of COVID
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and that saying has never fit something more than shots of artisan pizza being displayed by a rubber-gloved hand. Also, get in my belly!
In the Knoxville community, A Dopo Pizza has always been a culinary and entrepreneurial innovator, and during quarantine, things are no different. To fight COVID-19 on the front lines, A Dopo has completely revamped their menu, and are now offering “Nightly Trust Fall Dinners For Two” which consists of the following: Two pizzas, one bottle of wine, one appetizer, one gelato... All the chef’s choice!
Sign me the heck up. Beware, they sell out fast (we’re talking minutes here). And for good reason. Order for curbside pickup for dinner today and follow A Dopo Pizza’s incredible Instagram for a reminder to have dinner there tomorrow, too.
4) Cruze Farms | Bring Some Flavor to Quarantine & Chill
I scream. You scream. We all scream because the end of the world inches ever closer and existential dread now permeates every facet of our lives… but whoa this ice cream is delicious.
Blackberry ice cream? Okay, stop. With every bite, it reminds you that maybe life DOES have meaning... and love DOES have intrinsic value!
Hey you... yes, you! Stop philosophizing about the illusion of free will for thirty minutes and get to the Cruze Farm website and pick up a pint or two, or maybe a gallon. For more photos of frosty delights, follow Cruze Farm Ice Cream on Instagram.
5) Dale Mackey | Dale’s Fried Pies & The Good Sport Box
You had me at fried. But the next word is equally good: pies.
Dale Mackey and her famous sweet and/or savory pies have been a staple of the Central Collective for quite some time. And now, Dale continues her mission to spread joy (and not germs)! She and Central Collective have teamed up to “keep whimsy alive” by creating the Good Sport Box. Each box contains art and products by local artisans and game/activity suggestions. No two boxes will be exactly the same!
6) Linds Edwards & Ashley Shelton | A Hot Thesbian Couple
Binge-watching The Office on repeat is a favorite pastime for many of us, but after the one billionth viewing, some of the magic is gone (lol, just kidding).
But good news! Two local Knoxvillians have made a parody called The Home Office about a couple working from home. The entire series takes place in basically two rooms and with two people: Linds Edwards and Ashley Shelton, a cute Knoxville power couple who are both working actors/writers/directors.
And lastly, they have a short film streaming on Amazon Prime called Magnolia & Clementine.
7) Zack Roskop | Much A Brew About Nothing
Zack Roskop is the man behind Knoxville Brew Tours. He takes a bus and carts strangers all over Knoxville on a backstage tour for great local beer.
But what does that man do when the world has closed and brewers are making hand sanitizers (thanks, by the way! I love clean hands)? Well, that man adapts, by God! And he takes his bus all over the community to bring people food, groceries and yes, beer. All the beer.
Zack and Knoxville Brew Tours have partnered with a plethora of local breweries to bring you different craft beer selections each day and even virtual brew tours! But wait, there’s more… Zack also participates in the Local Love Box, helping deliver goodies of all shapes, sizes and flavors right to your doorstep.
Here’s the list of things to check out on this one: Knoxville Brew Tours Virtual Tours and it’s Instagram, as well as more info on the Local Love Box and its instagram (Zack’s on there as well! Hi, Zack!).
8) Yassin’s Falafel House | Sooo Hummus Ya Miss Me?
The above tweet says it all. Share a meal, share the love with people in need and first responders. What is better than fresh hummus and an authentic falafel? The answer is: nothing. Also, an acceptable answer would be: more hummus and more falafel.
Yassin Terou and his family have brought so much joy to the Knoxville community through food, and it continues now during the crisis.
Get more information on Yassin’s Falafel House’s Share Meal, Share Love initiative.
9) Pretentious Beer Co | Slurrrrp
Here’s just a fun bunch of people who run a fun brewery downtown: Pretentious Beer Co. Come for the beer, stick around for the clever names and associated artwork (but don’t actually come, cause social distancing, duh).
Once again, we’ve got a delivery box. But this time there are so many options. When you order you select the general types of beers that suit your soon-to-be pretentious palate and the craft brewery will select a variety pack to help stimulate those endorphins hibernating in your brain during this time of crisis.
Remember. the beer may be dark but your soul doesn’t have to be. I am pretty sure Shakespeare said that.
10) Flourish Flower Truck | You Don’t Have to Shower, Just Order a Flower
Seriously, who wouldn’t love fresh flowers dropped off at their door? And just look at how cute this car. Everyone knows that I’m pretty manly… and, well, I’m melting right now because of the cuteness.
Savannah and her husband Issac own Knoxville’s OG flower truck, and they take pride in preparing each petal and handwriting each note.
11) Union Ave Books | Take a Look, It's in a Book, A Reading Rainbow
Vellichor. The smell of books. Nothing on the planet has the power to make me happier. It’s like pouring a bucket of smiles on my brain. And Union Ave Books oozes with it. Now, sadly, we can’t go inside… but Union has us covered.
The independently-owned bookstore is offering an awesome book concierge service that will help you discover what to read next, virtual book events, curbside pickups or even delivery if you live within 5 miles of the store.
Now, if you will excuse me, I am going to go smell To Kill A Mockingbird for a good five minutes.
Learn about Union Ave Books’s concierge service and event schedule and stroll its virtual aisles on Instagram.
12) Megan Lingerfelt | Paintin’ 9 to 5
Somebody defaced this beautiful Dolly mural downtown. But that didn’t slow down the muralist who gave Dolly’s face yet another lift.
Knoxville, please give a collective round of applause to Megan Lingerfelt. Not all heroes wear capes, some sling paint. And please enjoy some more of Megan’s beautiful murals.
Excuse me while I wipe this tear out of my eye, Knoxville. I know that, at times, it may not seem like it – but, hey – we’re doing alright. There are dozens (if not hundreds) of people and businesses I could have put on this list.
We should all be proud of how we’ve come together as a community. And we all need to step back and look at this city of culture and color and creativity with awe and gratitude.
Now, curl up on your couch, order some food, get some books, buy some art and take comfort in Dolly’s words, “storms make trees take deeper roots.” And then ask yourself this—where else would I want to face this storm? Where else, but Knoxville, do I want deeper roots?