Williamson County’s oldest retail business expands to Franklin Early’s Honey Stand to Sell Authentic Tennessee Products on Historic Main Street
For 87 years, Early’s Honey Stand has been selling authentic Tennessee foods from a storefront in Spring Hill. Now Williamson County’s oldest retail business is opening a new location on Main Street in downtown Franklin.
The circa 1815 brick building at 209 E. Main Street known as Dr. McPhail’s office—which has served as the Williamson County Convention & Visitors Bureau Visitor Center in recent years—will be stocked with locally made, country-style food products, including local honey, smoked meats, old-fashioned jams and more.
Early’s Honey Stand has been in continuous operation since 1925, when Erskine Early founded the roadside stand that blossomed into a nationally known tourist destination and mail-order business.
“The downtown Franklin family has welcomed us with open arms, and we’re looking forward to starting a new tradition here,” said Curtis Gibbs, president of Early’s Honey Stand. “We believe Main Street’s sense of community and love of history compliments our company’s heritage and our mission to offer all-natural native products.”
As the story goes, Early started the roadside business to catch the attention of travelers on their way to Florida, selling rich golden honey, sweet sorghum, slow-smoked sausage and country hams to customers passing through. When the construction of Interstate 65 rerouted thousands of drivers, word spread far and wide about the “Hill Country” treats from the little town south of Nashville. Erskine’s mail-order business boomed.
Today, Early’s mail-order operation continues to distribute Tennessee products all over the globe. The company has shipped off cheeses, country-cookin’ mixes and thick-sliced bacon to Supreme Court justices, Fortune 500 CEOs and celebrities the likes of Elvis Presley.
The Gibbs family purchased the business after Erskine’s passing, and the company has maintained a legacy of uncommon customer service and the promise of authentic Southern fare.
“We've stayed true to our roots. Our meats are smoked and cured through natural methods that have been used for hundreds of years,” Gibbs said. “We never cook, clarify or filter any of our honey. We’re trying to help you eat the way your great-grandmother did.”
Early’s will open just in time for the upcoming holiday season, and the signature Southern products are popular gifts for loved ones, business associates and family members.
Built before 1815, Dr. McPhail’s office was used as Union headquarters during the Civil War, when Federal troops occupied Franklin. Gibbs said they hope to use the building’s heritage to introduce Early’s country delights to a new generation of customers.
“We hope to remind locals of our tried-and-true product. And if they’re visitors, we hope to give them the standard souvenirs of the South: plenty of hospitality and country-style food,” he said. “Like [founder] Erskine told people, you'll always get the best quality food here, from the friendliest people in the world."
For information, visit www.earlysgifts.com or stop by the store Tuesday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
PHOTO BY MICHAEL BROWN.
Posted on: 11/21/2012