Feel the thrill of the hunt for pieces that tell stories of old times. When you visit Tennessee Treasures in Pulaski, Tennessee, you will discover vintage finds, including signs, furniture, arrowheads and glassware. Owner Donny Lanier shares his passion for collecting with customers visiting his store.
Lanier invites you to dig through the items to find collectibles and great stories. Each piece at Tennessee Treasures has a story, and unearthing that history is what led Lanier to his passion for antiques. Lanier’s parents sparked his interest in collectibles when he was a child.
“My mother and dad started (that passion). They always fooled with stuff on the side – it gets in your blood when you’ve been around it. I started on my own after they quit,” Lanier said, adding that he now wants to instill that enthusiasm of loving the past in the new generations.
He grew up and spent his life in the Pulaski area, said Lanier. He has run Tennessee Treasures for about 20 years.
“It’s mostly old stuff, antiques, and – just about anything that you can think of – old signs, car tags, jars, bottles, furniture,” he said.
He calls Tennessee Treasures “the last junk store in Middle Tennessee.”
Lanier enjoys talking with visitors and telling them about the items. Some of the pieces are centuries old.
“I have a trade ax that is probably about 200 years old, and I have signs out of the ‘20s, bicycles out of the ‘20s, (items) from the late 1800s, primitive furniture, crock bowls, Pyrex bowls, carnival glass, old medicine bottles.”
His favorites are old bottles that have captured the essence of past decades. They bring feelings of nostalgia and inspire conversations.
He has local soda bottles that are collectible. Some of the most valuable vintage bottles come from the Pulaski area, said Lanier.
Talking with visitors and sharing his knowledge gives Lanier joy.
“I love running my mouth and talking to visitors, meeting people from different areas – a lot of nice people out there. I show and tell. There’s a lot of history in the local bottles. The drink bottles go back to the late 1880s, and there are a lot of people that collect them. The businesses that started making the different soda pop bottles have come and gone over the years. The first franchise of SunDrop in Tennessee started in the area.”
Buford White founded SunDrop Bottling Co., Inc. in 1947 as Nesbitt Spur Bottling Company. In 1961, the name was changed to SunDrop Bottling Co., Inc., and SunDrop had become the main product of the company by that time. Today, SunDrop represents more than 75% of the total beverage sales. The company is the third-largest distributor by case volume of SunDrop beverages in the United States, according to sundropbottling.com.
“It was the first one in Tennessee, and it was the only one in Tennessee for 50 years,” Lanier said.