It’s true what they say: the world is full of magic if you open the window wide enough and look for it. If you venture down the road and see what’s really there. It was a beautiful spring Saturday. I wanted to unearth something unexpected; to brush dust off a precious gem and hold it up to the light. I knew somewhere close this dream could be a reality, all warmth and sugar and creative action. Let’s just get going, I thought. Let’s just get gone. What I found when I entered The Factory at Franklin was nothing short of this—a place of comfort, of community, the triumphant heartbeat of local food, folk, and art that I’d been searching for, for a long, long time.
The day began early. What surprises would be in store? I made my way through the rolling hills and horses of Williamson County to The Factory at Franklin for the very first time. Parking was much easier than I expected, as there has been buzz about this spot for quite some time, and as soon as I found a spot the familiar smell of coffee brewing lured me right inside the doors of Honest Coffee Roasters.
Now, I am by all intensive purposes a coffee snob. I humbly admit it. After years and years of staying up late finishing grant proposals or writing the last myriad details of a manuscript, I take my coffee very, very seriously; and let me tell y’all, Honest Coffee Roasters has the good stuff, the real stuff. Real, real good in every way. It was a hot day, so I decided to grab a cold brew. That first sip? Heavenly. My sleepiness let out a long, withdrawing roar and the day had officially begun. I knew I wanted to get a good look at the entire Factory, so I waltzed out and down the hall towards Five Daughters Bakery. After all, as every true southern woman knows, the most sacred meal of the day has always been breakfast.
There was a small line at Five Daughters, and in hindsight, I can see why. Crisp and sweet and flaky, this doughnut was one of the tastiest treats I’d eaten in years. I had about 30 minutes to kill before my friend and her son were meeting me to explore, so I decided on the blackberry lychee 100 layer doughnut (I’m an adventurous eater), and went to sit comfortably in the open-warehouse seating area. Lush leather couches, a tall glass ceiling, exposed beams, a chandelier… It was everything my little heart desired, and with my favorite breakfast treats to boot!
As I finished my breakfast, I people watched. Young parents with children learning to walk, grandparents with little leaguers, fathers, mothers, and even solo, young professionals like me—everyone was here, people of all walks of life… Had I found it? Was it real? Community and commerce, all types of people coming together to spend a day enjoying their Saturday off, it was real! This is the gem, I thought, as I finished my coffee. Here it is. Here it is, after all this time.
Once my friend and her son arrived, we made our way outside to the Franklin Farmer’s Market that had set up shop in the expansive parking lot. How refreshing! Fresh produce, tasty food trucks, handmade soaps and lotions and stunning jewelry—this was the hotbed of local commerce I had been searching for. Everything here was locally sourced, locally produced, and locally owned. Children were eating ice cream and laughing on the patio, my friend bought a beautiful Tennessee sign for her living room, I bought oatmeal soap; I could have easily walked up and down the magical outdoor aisles all day, however, I knew there was more here to see.
We slipped back into The Factory and before we knew it, found ourselves inside the beauty that is CR-71. Between the reclaimed wooden dining room tables and steeple-like windows for hanging, if I had a larger car with me, I would have redone my entire house right then and there. Their goods were that beautiful. From there we ventured over to the glory of City Farmhouse, where I bought my mother a floppy sun hat for Mother’s Day (though I could have bought that whole store as well everything was so stunning). Honestly, there isn’t a single shop in The Factory that didn’t impress me. The attention to detail, the hard work and dedication that these makers’ put into their wares is so very apparent. I can’t imagine shopping for those I love any other place but here now.
By this time, we had done lots of adventuring and were starting to grow hungry again, so we decided to stop by Franklin Juice Company for a light lunch. Between my açaí bowl (which I’m still dreaming about), and my friend’s yummy smoothie, it was the perfect lunch. Sweet, healthy, and delicious. It gave us the energy our bodies so badly craved. We even had some of their raw, cold pressed orange juice to wash it all down. The entire meal was a true delight.
My favorite poet, Jack Gilbert, once wrote, “We can do without pleasure, but not delight.” And I agree. Thanks to The Factory, I had found my Saturday’s delight. I had found a place that represented home. All of Williamson county’s warmth, love, and community all wrapped up in one gorgeous building. Like the gem it is, it shines. Sparkles. It sings of something greater than just retail transactions. Make your way into its stunning interior and see for yourself just exactly how special this place truly is.
-Guest Blogger, Meg Wade