The Craptastic Emporium

On Labor Day weekend the girls and I headed down to Arkansas for a quick visit with Mom and Dad.

I figure I have made this trip roughly a gazillion times in the 33 years we have lived in Nashville, and the travel time varies widely depending on several factors. It can take anywhere from a little over six hours to well over eight. Back in the day (B.C.– ‘before children’) when Russ and I were traveling alone, we would always factor in extra time for stopping along the way if anything looked interesting (antique stores for me, sporting goods stores for him.) We had the freedom to waste an hour or so trying to track down some obscure meat and three or barbeque joint somebody told us about. And even if we couldn’t find it, we could still hit some old favorites like that great hotel restaurant they used to have in Brinkley with those fabulous big honkin’ yeast rolls…

Sometimes we would abandon the interstate altogether and just wander down scenic back roads for awhile, driving past family farms and cotton fields and sleepy Southern towns. Those meandering trips definitely added some time to our drive, but hey, we were young, energetic and unencumbered. If we happened to be in a big hurry to get home to Arkansas we’d put the pedal to the metal (as much as you can while driving a Ford Pinto), stopping only for gas and the rare bathroom stop. Well, rare for me, Russ has a bladder the size of a peanut but I honed my “holding it” skills on the all-male Imperials bus– I bet my record for traveling the longest period of time without a rest stop still stands! I went to great lengths to avoid peeing in some funky gas station bathroom where the heavily tattooed, chain-smoking attendant would hand me a key attached to a beat-up wooden paddle with LADIES written on it in magic marker,  jerk her head towards the door and say, “It’s around back.”

*shudders at the memory*

When Madi was a baby I used to ride in the back seat with her so I could read books, distract her with toys and replace the ever-present pacifier if it happened to fall out. And may I just take a moment here to say God bless whoever invented the paci– it saved my sanity many, many times. Those trips always took much longer, because we would pull the car over every time I needed to nurse or change a diaper. Of course by the time Charlotte came along, I could skillfully whip that child out of the carseat, hold her with one hand and do whatever I needed to while simultaneously switching out the Barney tape in the little AC/DC television we propped up between the seats to keep Madi occupied. By that time our growing family included a couple of cats, so we had the added distraction of  meowing felines roaming through the car, not to mention their portable litter box.  I also not-so-nostalgically remember that Deco, the Himalayan, had a tendency towards carsickness so we had to drug her with kitty Benadryl which made her kind of drunk, drooly, and feeling like she needed to be all up in my face the whole trip. Good times.

The pet factor reached its zenith when the girls were in grade school. We actually traveled back and forth to Arkansas with two kids, three dogs, one huge tail-less cat and a cockatiel. I swear, those trips lasted for-stinkin’-ever. Between bathroom breaks, getting snacks, fueling the car and taking the dogs out it felt like we were stopping every five minutes. We learned to ignore the pointing and laughing, but one time when we were eating at Sonic in Memphis a woman startled me by tapping on the window and asking if I minded if she brought her husband over to take a look at our traveling menagerie. “He always tells me I’m nuts because I want to take our poodle with us when we travel,” she explained. “I want to show him what crazy REALLY looks like!”

These days, at least when we’re traveling without the three yappers, we can knock it out in around six hours if we really want to. On our Labor Day trip we were kind of on a schedule because everyone was planning on coming over to Mom and Dad’s for dinner that night. Since the girls and I left about thirty minutes later than we had planned, we really needed to make good time. Fully prepared to resist the lure of random antique malls, dairy bars and roadside fruit stands, we were well on our way when just this side of Jackson I decided to fill up the car… and we stumbled upon THIS:

Now in all my years of traveling I-40, I have no memory of ever stopping here. Because seriously? I WOULD REMEMBER!

It may look like just your basic truckstop from this angle, but honey– right across the parking lot there is this rambling old two story building crammed full, stuffed to the gills and spilling over with every kind of junky trinket/cheesy souvenir/godawful jimcrack and gewgaw you have ever seen in your entire long-legged life! It looks like Tijuana threw up all over it! It’s where tacky comes to die!

The girls took one look at the row upon row of schlocky knickknacks piled up in bushel baskets and set out on shelves in front of the entrance, jumped out of the car and ran towards that dusty, beat-up building with their arms open wide. I think I saw rainbows and hearts shooting out of their heads. They may or may not have spontaneously burst into song.

I’m not sure, because I was stunned into silence by the sheer force of the AMOUNT OF CRAP I was looking at.


Wanna closer look?

Why is there a big wad of fuzzy paint rollers next to the moldering fake Mayan statuettes and the giant bucket of clay marbles/eggs? I have no idea.

However, to be fair, they did appear to have some of their merchandise separated into categories. There was the Western Enthusiasts area:

Which was adjacent to the Religious Section:

Madi appeared to particularly enjoy the Pre-Columbian Artifacts department:

While Charlotte casually strolled past the Nautical Statue Corner on her way inside…

That’s right, I said ‘inside.’


I mentioned there were TWO floors, right?

Shelf after shelf, everywhere you looked… it went on FOREVER:

Some things were a little hard to identify:

Some things seemed a little out of place:

Some things… we didn’t even want to ask:

All in all, it was the weirdest place I’ve ever seen in my whole dang life, but I do have to admit, it was kind of fun. I think Madi plans on holding her wedding there. So yes, the next time we are anywhere near exit 101 on I-30, we will definitely stop by again and say hello to the friendly proprietors of the place we now affectionately refer to as “The Craptastic Emporium.”  What’s not to love about somebody who has the nerve to fill up an entire building with truckloads of worthless junk and actually charge cold, hard American cash money for it?

They’ve certainly got balls!



The End.

16 Responses

  1. LindaB

    “It’s where tacky comes to die!” ROFLMBO OVER AND OVER!!! You crack me up! Way up!!! I thought that was Clio, but I stand corrected! I’ve never seen so much junk!

    Loved the “religious” carving. It’s like, all you little people on this end of the table, and the big shots on the other! LOL

    Did you buy anything? We have a place like that, only not as colorful and “arty” on Dixie Hwy south of here. It’s called “The Whoopie Bowl” and my husband LOVES it! I don’t. I just sit in the car all pouty while he walks around that place an hour like it was Tiffany’s or something. If I wanted to look at all that dusty, useless junk like that, I’d stay home and walk around our basement!

  2. bettyrwoodward

    Just love it. Was Russ with you as I would have a real problem getting Stuart into somewhere like that. I did manage to get him into a smaller version while we were in Townsend. The stone balls are fantastic!

  3. jonny

    It’s been awhile since Imve laughed out loud reading one of your entries. This one did the trick more than once = ) By the way, I really like Char’s rocket t-shirt!

  4. jonny

    OK, former’s on a roll today as well! = )

  5. Tweets that mention » The Craptastic Emporium | babybloomr --

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Tori Taff, Tori Taff. Tori Taff said: Hey listen, ANYBODY can take their kids to the Frist Museum… […]

  6. auburn60

    Well, I hope you bought lots and lots of ‘stuff’…enough so no member of the fam felt slighted when you finally arrived home. And don’t worry if you didn’t get me anything. I live in the ‘tacky -souvenir- capital -of- the- world’…hillbilly outhouse salt and pepper shakers,anyone? Anyone?

    And,in my random, off-topic way–I’m wondering if Charlotte has any idea what a gorgeous head of hair she has?

    AND…does this mean Madi’s wedding is no longer a cemetery event? Oh please, at least hold the reception there!?!

  7. see if you can answer these? | Best Steam Irons Reviews

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  8. meb

    That is absolutely hysterical. I’m so glad we didn’t come across that place on our journey cross country, otherwise our 8 day trip would have turned into 9 and we might have needed a bigger U Haul if my daughter saw some of that stuff. :-)


    I’D KILL FOR SOME OF THOSE MARBLE BALLS!!!!!! LOVE THEM!!!!! How did you ever miss that place before?

  10. MostlySunny

    This looks like a “gift shop” stop-along-side-of-the-rode-places in Mexico!

    That thing Madi is holding looks like it might be one of those Native American Indian crack-your-skull-and-take-your-scalp weapons.

    Loved the post!!! I’m on free wi-fi in an Old West tacky hotel in Deadwood, SD, which, of course is attached to a casino…with people holding their cig in one hand while dragging their oxygen tank with the other!. Yes, we tour guide/directors get to see some of the best of America! You’d love this place, Tori. Antiques galore!!!!

    On to Mt. Rushmore and Crazy Horse today, then Cody, WY, Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, Jackson Hole, and Salt Lake City. I love my new job!

  11. LindaB

    I love your new job too, Sunny! As my 8 year old granddaughter says, “LUCK–EEEEEEEE!”


    MostlySunny…and what exactly IS your job?

    I have a friend in Pottstown, PA.,& she called one day, talkin bout her new-position training – HELD IN LAS VEGAS FOR A WEEK – PAID FOR!!! I kinda let that one go, till she called me again A WEEK LATER…tellin me how they were headed to a Phillies ballgame, & lunch, on the co. check! I asked her if she needed a secretary – tho that would be quie a commut from NC!


  13. Barbara M. Lloyd

    Bless your sweet ‘lil ‘ole heart, Mother Taff….bringing up your youngins to appreciate the finer things in life. I think this might fall into the category of stopping to smell the roses….for real.

  14. MostlySunny

    I’m a tour director/guide; I take people on vacation! Had a great day today – saw 2 herds of buffalo and the cutest little prairie dog town on the side of the road. The group went nuts, and that’s the part I love about it – people having a great time.


    WHAT A GREAT JOB!!!!!!! WOW!!!!!!!!

  16. chillybean

    Wow…that place reminds me of the “unclaimed freight” warehouses I have been in. I don’t know how the freight becomes unclaimed, but these places are a dumping ground for leftovers and other rejected items. And they are so fun to shop in. Like a really well organized garage sale. The only downfall is, the one they tend to sorta stink old diesel fuel and basement.

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