Antique store revives old Massie’s GroceryOriginal store built in 1940s after World War II
The year was 1972.
Mary Hardin was 31 years old and sitting in a bowling alley in Clay, Kentucky, still grieving over the death of her husband who was killed in a tragic car accident in December 1971.
That night she was introduced to a guy named George, who was managing the bowling alley and who had just lost his wife in a separate car accident in June 1972.
That night, their shared experiences would bond them for life.
After they married that same year and blended their four children into one family, they bonded further during their shared pastime of what they call “picking” – going to flea markets, yard sales, auctions and estate sales in the search for the perfect bargain.
In essence, they were true-blooded “American Pickers” before the popular reality show came into existence.
“We just fell in love with the thrill of the hunt,” said Mary Hardin. “We’ve been married 41 years and we have been pickers for 41 years together.”
Their highly unique antique store, River’s Edge Antiques, situated on the banks of the rushing Pigeon River at the end of Burnette Cove Road in Cruso, is the culmination of those 41 years of “picking” and antique selling.
George Hardin’s old cars sitting out front attract many customers from the road – antique beauties like his 1976 Cadillac Coupe Deville with only 38,000 miles that he found at an estate sale in Cosby, Tenn. and a 1955 Packard car he purchased in Phoenix, Ariz. “That Packard was made the next to the last year they made them,” noted George Hardin.
Ironically, the 1947 Hudson pickup sitting out front of the store reminds many area Cruso residents of the time period when Olus and Laura Massie originally constructed the building in the late 1940s after World War II. At that time it was called “Massie’s Grocery” and was a local gas station, grocery store and feed store.
Irene Haynes is the oldest daughter of Olus and Laura Massie and recalls growing up working in the store.
“I remember we had two customers with 13 children in their families and we delivered groceries to many residents in the community,” Haynes said.
“Many times we had people run out of gas in the middle of the night and knock on our door and we would walk across the road and open up the store for them,” she added.
As curious customers venture into the historic building, they immediately notice all the colorful antique toys that the Hardin’s specialize in.
“We’ve been collecting these antique toys for 20 years,” said Mary Hardin, pointing out the oldest antique toy in the store – a brightly colored red and green 1919 Garton pedal tractor.
“That one we found in an antique store in Washington, Texas,” said George Hardin.
On a recent afternoon as one customer from Canton, Georgia, browsed the rare toy collection from the 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s including old brand names like Structo, Nylint, Tonka and Wyandotte, he commented, “You’ve got some nice old toys – you’ve been digging in the mountains to find stuff like that.”
Antique enthusiasts are thrilled to inspect all the details of the toys from a simpler time like the 1930s antique sled, the 1950s AMF Super Trac red pedal tractor, the 1970s Tonka Winnebago and the 1960s Castelli fire-cycle complete with the fire bell on top and the ladders on the side.
“We’ve had people in here all the way from Norway, Sweden, Germany, France and the United Kingdom and I love meeting all the people here,” said George Hardin.
“It’s a lot of fun and I’m real pleased with it,” added Mary Hardin.
In addition to the toy collection, customers find lots of primitive tools, kitchen ware, furniture, advertising tins, vintage clothing, quilts, enamelware and vintage Christmas items in the shop.
“There’s also an old gas pump out front from the 1960s. Boy, I would sure like to buy some of that gas because it was only 43 cents a gallon back then,” said George Hardin.
Oftentimes when the Hardin’s reflect on the road they have traveled together for 41 years – a road that started in a bowling alley as they merged and mended their broken hearts to a store by the river that represents numerous trips and good times together – they can’t help but smile at the sometimes rugged but always loving and adventurous road they have taken.
“Now I’m by the river and I’m at home,” said George Hardin.
River’s Edge Antiques is located at 9522 Cruso Road in Canton and is open Mon. through Sat. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sun. 1 to 5 p.m. They will be hosting a Christmas Open House Nov. 23, 24, 29 and 30, featuring door prizes, hot apple cider and lots of vintage Christmas items.
To contact the Hardins, call 734-6978.