Thrifty Gen Zer brings the ’90s back with Richie’s Riches

HALLS

Thrifty Gen Zer brings the ’90s back with Richie’s Riches

Ali James, Shopper News

When Bryson Richie was 9 or 10 years old, he discovered expert thrifter Paul Cantu’s YouTube channel and he was hooked.

“I already knew thrift stores were a thing. My mom would find clothes for my little sister there,” said Richie. “Paul Cantu showed me how to find cool things and dress well at the thrift store.”

Bryson Richie is all set to open Richie’s Riches at 5503 N. Broadway in Fountain City. His best friend, Al @Alonzo.macaroni, created the store logo and painted the eye-catching window design.

Bryson Richie is all set to open Richie’s Riches at 5503 N. Broadway in Fountain City. His best friend, Al @Alonzo.macaroni, created the store logo and painted the eye-catching window design.

The day he turned 16, Richie said he got his driver’s license and went on his first solo thrifting trip. When his closet got too full, something no longer fit him or he knew someone wanted to buy a specific piece, then he would resell it.

“I didn’t really start buying to resell until a year or so later,” he said. “I already had a part-time job, so any day that I didn’t go to work right after school I had a circle of thrift stores I would do in Knoxville, three times a week.”

“I want it to be a hangout spot, where people don’t feel like they have to come in and spend money, they can just come in and browse. I’ll have movies on all of the time."

“I want it to be a hangout spot, where people don’t feel like they have to come in and spend money, they can just come in and browse. I’ll have movies on all of the time.”

Richie sold predominantly via his Instagram account @_richiesriches_. “I was making consistent sales and gaining a following,” he said. “I would announce I was selling at a particular time and it would sell out right away. That was the beginning of 2021, when I started making real money from it.”

Richie’s Riches most collectible T-shirts on display.

Richie’s Riches most collectible T-shirts on display.

Additionally, Richie would set up at vendor markets around town and was doing well. But he said the dream has always been having his own store.

When Suzy Collins opened HighLight Studio, she told him the old Custom Shoe Rebuilder storefront was available next door. “I grew up in Fountain City, so I knew that if it wasn’t going to be downtown I wanted to be here,” said Richie.

Four of Richie’s favorite T-shirts are displayed (and definitely not for sale) on the custom checkerboard wall.

Four of Richie’s favorite T-shirts are displayed (and definitely not for sale) on the custom checkerboard wall.

He got the keys to 5503 N. Broadway on Jan. 23 and has been there every day since. It had sat empty for three years and needed a big cleanout; 1950s linoleum was pulled up and the walls were given a fresh coat of white paint.

A contractor friend helped remove an internal wall and repurpose the 2x4s into the counter, and the racks are made from steel piping and cinder blocks for an industrial look. A rear room will make it easier for Richie to store merchandise and ship online purchases.

Richie’s Riches is in Fountain City.

Richie’s Riches is in Fountain City.

“I had my friend Al redesign my logo, paint the sign on the window and the checkerboard wall,” said Richie.Richie’s Riches sells a range of men’s sweatshirts, T-shirts and jeans, and his girlfriend has a small display of women’s clothing for sale.

Bryson Richie had a contractor tear down the wall and repurpose the 2x4s into a shop counter.

Bryson Richie had a contractor tear down the wall and repurpose the 2x4s into a shop counter.

“Even though there is way more overhead, it is not just about making money,” said Richie. “I want it to be a hangout spot, where people don’t feel like they have to come in and spend money, they can just come in and browse. I’ll have movies on all of the time. Of course, I would love to expand to a vintage market and a bigger location eventually, but right now I’m focused on providing the best stuff for the best price.”

Richie’s Riches is a buy, sell and trade business. “Young and older people that have hoarded for years can bring in clothes,” said Richie. “I will pay cash, or if they see something they like I will give store credit.”

Richie has collected sports cards for years and repurposes the less valuable cards for swing tags. “They are original sports cards from the ’90s, and recycling them goes with the vibe of the store,” he said.

Richie has collected sports cards for years and repurposes the less valuable cards for swing tags. “They are original sports cards from the ’90s, and recycling them goes with the vibe of the store,” he said.

Richie is always on the lookout for vintage clothing, ideally 20 years or older or anything special from the early noughts.

“I am really good at getting stains out; if it’s yellowed I can make it pearly white again,” he said. “I like to fold and refold for the perfect fold. I see everything when I wash and steam it.”

A cool jacket.

A cool jacket.

Richie’s biggest regret was selling what he still feels was his coolest find, a rare T-shirt featuring a Tasmanian Devil dressed as a University of Tennessee football player that he bought for $5 and sold for $30. “That was when the team was consistently good and they would release new T-shirts all of the time,” he said. “I hate myself for selling that.”

His biggest money maker was not found in a thrift store. “All of my friends know that I resell. I like to say ‘I can pay your car insurance’,” said Richie. “My buddy’s dad’s closet had a Grateful Dead T-shirt. I bought it for $20 and sold it for $200.”

Richie’s Riches will be open 1-8 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday and 1-6 p.m. Sundays. Richie is relaunching his website now that the shop is open.

Get connected with Karns Community Club

Nancy Anderson, Shopper News

Incorporated in 1956, the Karns Community Club (KCC) has been through many incarnations over the years. Its major interest is the construction and rental of the Youth Center by the Lions Club Pavilion, and the Community Club Building and tennis courts at 7708 Oak Ridge Highway.

Until recent years the KCC sponsored the Karns Community Fair as well as the Christmas parade. A Fair Board was a established several years ago to take over these events, leaving the KCC to support the community on a more personal basis.

Knox County Commissioner Kim Frazier laughs as members tell jokes during the Karns Community Club meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023.

Knox County Commissioner Kim Frazier laughs as members tell jokes during the Karns Community Club meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023.

The club has partnered with the Karns Fair Board and the Beaver Creek Kayak Club to better serve the community.

These days the KCC supports numerous causes from Ben Atchley Tennessee State Veterans Home to Tennessee Children’s Home to the JrROTC, and a plethora of grants for Scouts and individuals working projects to benefit the community.

Vice President Cassie Kiestler said the KCC is interested in gaining new, younger members to more fully represent Karns.

Vice President Cassie Kiestler laughs as Don Gordon reveals she'll lead next month's meeting during the Karns Community Club meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023.

Vice President Cassie Kiestler laughs as Don Gordon reveals she’ll lead next month’s meeting during the Karns Community Club meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023.

“We have people who can speak for the 60- to 70-year-old crowd, but we need 20s and 30-somethings to represent their interests in the community. We’d like to see them participate to tell us just what their needs are pertaining to the community.

Onsite Rentals Administratior John Tapp asks a question during the Karns Community Club meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023.

Onsite Rentals Administratior John Tapp asks a question during the Karns Community Club meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023.

“We’re now sort of making plans for the year. Last year we did a couple of fun more personal events like Coco with Santa. It turned out really well. We had the kiddos make cards for the residents at Ben Atchley and that went over really well with them, and we had a blast,” said Kiestler.

President Don Gordon said younger people have a hard time volunteering hours because they’re too busy.

“Between sports, school activities, starting a family, working on career, the younger set is just too busy to participate. I’ve been president a number of times since the ’80s and it’s time to pass it on to someone else – although we do have some good leadership right now with Cassie Kiestler as vice president, Vernon Gordon as treasurer and John Tapp as administrator for onsite rentals.

Treasurer Vernon Gordon answers questions about the group's financial situation during the Karns Community Club meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023.

Treasurer Vernon Gordon answers questions about the group’s financial situation during the Karns Community Club meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023.

“Participating in the KCC is a great way to give back to the community. I can’t list all the things we’ve done over the years – from picking up trash to supporting individual causes – but it’s important that people participate in their community, especially if they have concerns about what is happening in that community.

“The only thing you can do is participate. I’ll bet Knox County Commissioners Terry Hill and Kim Frazier would say the same thing,” said Gordon. “We’re happy to have them at the meetings keeping us up with what’s going on in Knoxville.”

Knox County Commissioner Terry Hill laughs during the Karns Community Club meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023.

Knox County Commissioner Terry Hill laughs during the Karns Community Club meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023.

The KCC has no dues or membership fees. It meets the first Tuesday of the month at 7:30 p.m. in the Community Club Building, 7708 Oak Ridge Highway.

Info: Find Karns Community Club on Facebook to keep up with the latest happenings.

WORDS OF FAITH

Psalm 119 is annoying, because it reminds us of who we are

John Tirro, Shopper News

I’ve been praying Morning Prayer online, on Wednesdays, with an Episcopal priest and another Lutheran pastor, and over the course of a couple years we’ve become friends. We catch up on each other’s families, our congregations, and what we’re concerned about or hoping for. Then we gather that into Morning Prayer, a service that praises God who creates and holds all things in being, then asks for wisdom and strength to serve in love throughout the day.

John Tirro

John Tirro

For some reason, on Wednesdays, the psalm is often Psalm 119. This too is helpful, though sometimes annoying. As someone once said, “The truth will set you free, but often it makes you miserable first.”

Martin Luther, back in the 16th century, riffing off Paul’s first century letters to the church at Corinth, taught about this, saying the “old Adam” − the sinful self with all its harmful habits, emotional reactivity, impulsiveness, blame-shifting, etc. − has to be “drowned daily” in the waters of baptism, that the “new Adam,” Christ, might rise in us and us in him, that we might walk in his ways, the way of love.

Turns out, grumbly “old Adam” is feisty and doesn’t go down easily, and Psalm 119, which presses that direction, is annoying to someone struggling to get over “their own bad self.”

There’s a lot of what professors call “Deuteronomistic” thinking in Psalm 119, a thought flowing from priests of ancient times who gathered and edited the first few books of the Bible, that “if you do right, it’ll go right; if it doesn’t, you didn’t.”

This line of thinking crawls all over today’s right and left in “purity” and “cancel” cultures, and it largely seems to be a trauma response. Priests compiling Deuteronomy and other scripture were addressing people traumatized by Assyrian conquest and Babylonian captivity, and they were trying to give hope, a sense that people could influence their future for the better, by doing better. And it’s true. Things generally go better when we do better. But it’s not the whole truth.

The book of Job, which comes right before Psalms, depicts a man who did everything right, and still everything went wrong. In Christian tradition, Jesus on the cross is the epitome of this. God comes in love, is rejected, and yet continues to love. The “old Adam” drowns in the baptismal flood of forgiveness.

So what is it that’s so hard for “old Adam” to hear in Psalm 119? Over and over, it says, “I keep your law, O God” (vv 13, 14, 20, etc.), which is to say, “I love unfailingly,” which, of course, we don’t.

Psalm 119 is like braces for the soul, tightening in a direction we’re not yet ready to go. But it also asks for help, “Teach me your ways” (vv 5, 8, 12, etc.). Oddly, as we notice our resistance, it begins to give way. As we lovingly see our struggles to love, we begin to be more loving, toward ourselves, toward others, and toward God.

John Tirro is pastor of worship at St. John’s Lutheran Church. Info: sjlcknox.org.

NORTH KNOXVILLE

Quality HIV/AIDS care earns Positively Living ‘Center of Excellence’ status

Carol Z. Shane, Shopper News

Positively Living & Choice Health Network, which since 1996 has provided HIV/AIDS patients with a variety of support, has been named an HIV/AIDS Center of Excellence (COE) by the Tennessee Department of Health for its high-quality and comprehensive care.

By last count, it is one of only 14 organizations statewide to achieve this status.

“Since Positively Living started serving HIV/AIDS patients in 1996, we have implemented a holistic approach that meets the challenges of not only the disease, but also the barriers to well-being,” CEO Steve Jenkins said. Support services in such areas as housing, transportation and nutrition have long been a mainstay of the program, with continued emphasis on maintaining the dignity of each client and recognizing individual circumstances and needs.

Choice Health Network’s CEO Steve Jenkins says that the Center of Excellence status recently awarded by the Tennessee Department of Health for quality HIV/AIDS care “affirms our efforts and assures clients that they will receive optimal care.”

Choice Health Network’s CEO Steve Jenkins says that the Center of Excellence status recently awarded by the Tennessee Department of Health for quality HIV/AIDS care “affirms our efforts and assures clients that they will receive optimal care.”

In 2017, Positively Living & Choice Health Network (PLCHN) also began providing medical care. “We were a name that was trusted,” said Jessica Tullos, who has been onboard with PLCHN for eight years, six years of that as senior medical director.

“HIV is a community health issue. Anyone is at risk of contracting it. In 2020 there were 650 new diagnoses in Tennessee; 19,000 in the state are living with it,” Tullos said.

Jessica Tullos is the senior director of medical services for Knoxville’s Choice Health Network, which has achieved Center of Excellence status from the Tennessee Department of Health for quality HIV/AIDS care.

Jessica Tullos is the senior director of medical services for Knoxville’s Choice Health Network, which has achieved Center of Excellence status from the Tennessee Department of Health for quality HIV/AIDS care.

“One of the things that the COE focuses on is viral suppression, which makes HIV undetectable in the bloodstream and therefore untransmittable to other people. Viral suppression is the goal of treatment. So anyone who comes in, you want to treat using those COE standards with the goal of helping them to be healthier.”

The viral suppression regimen has shown an over-90% success rate. Positively Living does everything it can to address challenges within the HIV/AIDS community so that consistency in treatment can be achieved.

Behavioral issues, homelessness, drug use and social factors can impact an individual’s ability to adhere to medical protocols.

“HIV is a complicated disease,” said Tullos. “We don’t just bring somebody in the door and address their medical concerns. We assess them as a whole person; we’re asking questions like ‘do you have stable housing, do you have enough to eat, are you able to make it to your medical appointments, do you have any mental health concerns?’ Meds have come so far; there are a lot of options. But it’s hard to keep up with a bottle of pills when you don’t know where you’re going to lay your head at night. That’s the biggest thing we see.”

Knoxville’s Choice Health Networkhas achieved Center of Excellence status from the Tennessee Department of Health for quality HIV/AIDS care.

Knoxville’s Choice Health Networkhas achieved Center of Excellence status from the Tennessee Department of Health for quality HIV/AIDS care.

The public health nonprofit also offers free HIV and hepatitis C testing and HIV prevention medications, including pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and post-exposure prophylaxis.

The COE program was established to acknowledge excellent HIV/AIDS care centers and direct people with HIV/AIDS to experienced providers. The criteria are supported by people with HIV/AIDS, insurance entities and other organizations involved in HIV/AIDS care. Having passed an audit by the state and attained a recommendation from the COE Advisory Committee, PLCHN received the distinction from Dr. Morgan McDonald, Tennessee Department of Health interim commissioner.

Clearly, the compassion and dedication of PLCHN staffers has earned them this status, and Jenkins and his colleagues are gratified.

“This merit affirms our efforts and assures clients that they will receive optimal care.”

FARRAGUT

Charles Wilson named Town of Farragut fire inspector

Nancy Anderson, Shopper News

Charles Wilson is a busy guy these days.

He was named Town of Farragut fire inspector last month. In addition, he’s fire chief for Maynardville Volunteer Fire Department, takes the occasional firefighter shifts for Rural Metro Fire, and serves with the Army Reserve.

New Town of Farragut Fire Inspector Charles Wilson reviews plans in his office Feb. 14.

New Town of Farragut Fire Inspector Charles Wilson reviews plans in his office Feb. 14.

He said he’s no stranger to the role of fire inspector. As fire chief in Maynardville, he’s also the fire inspector there.

The Town of Farragut contracts with Rural Metro Fire to provide fire inspection services.

“I’ve been helping out the previous fire inspector, Dan Johnson, for about three years now, so it was my honor to step into the role when he retired at the end of January,” Wilson said.

What inspectors do

Wilson spends most of his time out of the office inspecting buildings inside and out for fire safety.

“I check to make sure they’re doing good housekeeping with sprinklers, emergency exit signs, fire extinguishers, blocked fire hydrants, and many other things including building plans reviews.

From his Facebook Timeline, New Town of Farragut Fire Inspector Charles Wilson connects the hose at a housefire for Rural Metro Fire in Powell. Dec 2022.

From his Facebook Timeline, New Town of Farragut Fire Inspector Charles Wilson connects the hose at a housefire for Rural Metro Fire in Powell. Dec 2022.

“Certain things like sprinkler systems must be inspected annually … and we follow up on complaints. Someone might complain about a business if the doors or blocked, aisleways are blocked. It may not seem interesting to some, but I think it is. It’s a way to give back to the community and help make buildings constructed in the Town of Farragut safer.”

Wilson has been with the Maynardville Volunteer Fire Department for 31 years. He’s been with Rural Metro Fire for five years, and with the Army Reserve for 18 years.

Friend died in car accident

He became interested in volunteering with the Maynardville Volunteer Fire Department at age 18. He said he came upon a car accident involving a friend who eventually died of her injuries.

Charles Wilson helps a firefighter on with a hazmat suit for Rural Metro Fire in this capture from his Facebook Timeline Nov. 25, 2022.

Charles Wilson helps a firefighter on with a hazmat suit for Rural Metro Fire in this capture from his Facebook Timeline Nov. 25, 2022.

“I came upon that scene and there was nothing I could do. I didn’t know what to do. But I walked past a fire station near my grandmother’s home all the time, so I figured I’d start there. I’ve been there ever since.”

New Town of Farragut Fire Inspector Charles Wilson examines building plans for a sprinkler review in his office Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2023.

New Town of Farragut Fire Inspector Charles Wilson examines building plans for a sprinkler review in his office Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2023.

He said he enjoyed being a firefighter not because of the adrenaline rush, but because of the structure of the organization and the camaraderie of his fellow firefighters … and the opportunity to be of service to the community.

“There are a lot of opportunities with Rural Metro. I went out to California when the pandemic first hit and helped out with relief there.”

Wilson takes a selfie with his favorite canine, Loki.

Wilson takes a selfie with his favorite canine, Loki.

Wilson is single and lives in Maynardville with his dog, Loki.

The apple didn’t fall far from the tree: Wilson has a daughter who is the captain for Roane County EMS.

These Smokies hikes are so popular, there’s a waiting list | Mike Strange

POWELL

‘We just want you to get off the couch’: Planet Fitness opening soon in Powell

Al Lesar, Shopper News

Every community needs a judgment-free, reasonably priced, healthy environment.

That’s why Planet Fitness has put its focus on Powell.

“We saw an area where there was not an affordable gym,” said John Hrinda, vice president of operations for Planet Fitness. “The people are going to be impressed with what they see.”

For those in a hurry, there's a 30-minute workout room in Planet Fitness.

For those in a hurry, there’s a 30-minute workout room in Planet Fitness.

The Powell location is a 15,000-square-foot new construction at 630 Delozier Way. The plan is for it to be open by April. It will be the fifth Planet Fitness in the Knoxville area.

“Our focus has always been the same,” Hrinda said of the company he’s been at for the last 10 years. “We want to have a place where people do not feel judged. Our first-time gym users are able to feel comfortable with us.”

Planet Fitness opened its first location in Dover, New Hampshire, in 1992. Today, there are just shy of 2,300 clubs across the country with 16.2 million members.

The attraction is that memberships cost just $10/month. A Black Card membership ($24.99/month) will allow access to the Black Card spa.

Plenty of equipment

One of the goals of Planet Fitness is that a member never has to wait to use a piece of equipment. Having enough available workout equipment is a basic premise.

The goal at Planet Fitness is for there to be no wait time to use equipment.

The goal at Planet Fitness is for there to be no wait time to use equipment.

Hrinda said the Powell facility will have separate 30-minute workout rooms and other areas for functional training.

“I guess the best way to describe it is as an adult jungle gym,” Hrinda said.

There will be two functioning locker rooms. The Black Card spa will allow members an opportunity to get away.

“There’s a sitting area that will let members get away from the gym atmosphere into something more relaxing,” Hrinda said.

There will be massages, tanning and hydromassage beds, where hot water will run down the member’s back.

For a little extra a month, there's access to the amenities in the Black Card Spa.

For a little extra a month, there’s access to the amenities in the Black Card Spa.

Free fitness training in-person will be available to all members. Certified personal trainers will be on duty. Also, an app that will serve as a virtual trainer comes with the membership.

Positive environment

The pandemic hit clubs hard for a while, but during the difficult times physical and mental health became priorities.

“Having access to a healthy environment has helped a lot of people,” Hrinda said. “At such a great price, we’ve proven that we’re here for the long haul. It’s amazing. These tough times have shown the strength of Planet Fitness.

The property at 630 Delozier Way in Powell is the new home of Planet Fitness.

The property at 630 Delozier Way in Powell is the new home of Planet Fitness.

“We just want you to get off the couch and find your way to a friendly environment.”

Hrinda stressed that, like other facilities, the Powell club will be a positive environment where the employees will know the names of the members.

Planet Fitness will offer a wide variety of equipment.

Planet Fitness will offer a wide variety of equipment.

“We’ve had a very successful business model that has been proven,” Hrinda said. “We keep our focus and keep growing as long as we remember who our member is. We can’t lose sight of that.”

Even though the Planet Fitness location isn’t completed, memberships are being sold from a trailer at Mayo Garden Center (620 E. Emory Road). The trailer is open 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Friday and 10-5 Saturday and Sunday. Memberships can also be purchased online at planetfitness.com.

NORTH KNOXVILLE

Artists to celebrate Ukraine with food, music, exhibits

Carol Z. Shane, Shopper News

This weekend, East Tennesseans have the opportunity to enjoy some extraordinary offerings from Knoxville’s dance and music worlds.

The richness of Knoxville’s arts and culture scene is evident Feb. 25-26, 2023, with “Cleopatra: The Last Pharaoh” presented by GO! Contemporary Dance Company at the Bijou and UT School of Music’s Ready for the World Series: Ukraine.

The richness of Knoxville’s arts and culture scene is evident Feb. 25-26, 2023, with “Cleopatra: The Last Pharaoh” presented by GO! Contemporary Dance Company at the Bijou and UT School of Music’s Ready for the World Series: Ukraine.

Contemporary take on ancient queen

GO! Contemporary Dance Company presents “Cleopatra: The Last Pharaoh” at the Bijou, and the University of Tennessee School of Music in collaboration with UT Libraries presents this year’s Ready for the World Music Series featuring artists – visual, musical and culinary – from Ukraine.

Deviating from Hollywood’s traditional portrayal of Cleopatra, GO! will explore the mysteries of this young woman believed to be in her late 30s when she died and her political battles for dominance over the Ptolemaic Throne.

The richness of Knoxville’s arts and culture scene is evident Feb. 25-26 with “Cleopatra: The Last Pharaoh” presented by GO! Contemporary Dance Company at the Bijou.

The richness of Knoxville’s arts and culture scene is evident Feb. 25-26 with “Cleopatra: The Last Pharaoh” presented by GO! Contemporary Dance Company at the Bijou.

The GO! company of 75 professional, pre-professional and youth dancers will bring ancient Egyptian culture to life, intertwining Egyptian rituals, mysticism and traditions in a powerful spectacle with a documentary-style storyline based on the rivalry between Cleopatra VII, her half-sister Arsinoe IV and her younger brother, Ptolemy XIII.

“The story of Cleopatra is captivating,” says GO! founder/artistic director/principal choreographer Lisa Hall McKee, who wrote and directed the show. “There is much information about her, but there is also much mystery. I did not want to tell her traditional story, so I dug around and discovered the other dangerous Ptolemaic Dynasty girl, Arsinoe. Truth or legend? We don’t know, but this a fascinating story and makes a very intriguing and educational narrative ballet!”

Art sales to benefit Ukraine

Almost a year to the day after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Ready for the World Music Series: Ukraine explores the embattled country’s rich and diverse cultural heritage with three distinguished native Ukrainian musical artists: violinist Solomia Soroka; clarinetist Sergei Vassiliev; and pianist Angelina Gadeliya. In the past year, these renowned professional musicians have performed throughout the U.S., raising awareness of Ukrainian music and culture.

At the UT School of Music’s Ready for the World Series: Ukraine, you’ll find exquisite handmade items such as this needlework by Ukrainian artist Olena Pasinkova.

At the UT School of Music’s Ready for the World Series: Ukraine, you’ll find exquisite handmade items such as this needlework by Ukrainian artist Olena Pasinkova.

The program includes exhibits by Ukrainian artists, with sales going to benefit Ukraine, and a display of cultural artifacts and information, as well as refreshments representing culinary traditions. Local Ukrainian chef Maryna Pusiak will prepare Ukrainian delicacies/heavy hors d’oeuvres for attendees between 12:30-2 p.m.

The richness of Knoxville’s arts and culture scene is evident Feb. 25-26, 2023, with “Cleopatra: The Last Pharaoh” presented by GO! Contemporary Dance Company at the Bijou and UT School of Music’s Ready for the World Series: Ukraine.

The richness of Knoxville’s arts and culture scene is evident Feb. 25-26, 2023, with “Cleopatra: The Last Pharaoh” presented by GO! Contemporary Dance Company at the Bijou and UT School of Music’s Ready for the World Series: Ukraine.

“Cleopatra: The Last Pharaoh” happens at 2 and 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 25 and at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 26 at the Bijou Theatre, 803 S. Gay St. For tickets, including discounted tickets for students and seniors. visit gocontemporarydance.com or call 865-539-2475.

The program is made possible through funding from The Belcher Family Giving Fund, Kennerly Montgomery-Rob Quillen, attorney, Garza Law Firm and Studio Arts for Dancers.

The richness of Knoxville’s arts and culture scene is evident this weekend with the UT School of Music’s Ready for the World Series: Ukraine. Feb. 2023

The richness of Knoxville’s arts and culture scene is evident this weekend with the UT School of Music’s Ready for the World Series: Ukraine. Feb. 2023

Ready for the World Music Series: Ukraine begins at 12:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 26 with cultural exhibits, displays, and a reception in the lobby of the Natalie L. Haslam Music Center, 1741 Volunteer Blvd., followed by a musical presentation at 2 p.m. in the Sandra G. Powell Recital Hall. General admission is $25. UT faculty, staff, students and children under 18 are admitted free. Visit music.utk.edu/rftw.

At the UT School of Music’s Ready for the World Series: Ukraine, you’ll find art by Ukrainian artists such as Viktoriia Cubbedge. Proceeds from sales will go to benefit Ukraine.

At the UT School of Music’s Ready for the World Series: Ukraine, you’ll find art by Ukrainian artists such as Viktoriia Cubbedge. Proceeds from sales will go to benefit Ukraine.

The series is made possible through sponsors including the UT School of Music, the UT Libraries, the UT Center for Global Engagement Global Catalyst Programming Grant, the Marek Maria Pienkowski Foundation and UT’s Council for Diversity and Inclusion.

SOUTH KNOXVILLE

New SoKno Throwback and Threads adds color to Sevier Avenue

Ali James, Shopper News

The retail industry must be in DeAnne McLemore Thomas’s blood. Her family has run McLemore Florist in South Knoxville for more than 50 years.

DeAnne McLemore Thomas, owner of SoKno Throwback and Threads, shows one of her new favorite pants.

DeAnne McLemore Thomas, owner of SoKno Throwback and Threads, shows one of her new favorite pants.

“I have worked in the medical field my whole life, but when I got injured at work they put so many restrictions on me that it was hard to work for somebody else,” she said. “I’ve always been that girl who loved fashion and accessories, (so) I decided to open SoKno Throwback and Threads.”

Judy Blue jeans have been very popular at SoKno Throwback and Threads. South Knoxville, Feb. 15, 2023.

Judy Blue jeans have been very popular at SoKno Throwback and Threads. South Knoxville, Feb. 15, 2023.

In February 2022, McLemore Thomas signed the lease for the shop front at 906 Sevier Ave.

She originally thought of opening a secondhand store. “Then I thought if I am going to spend this much money to do it, I’m going to go all in,” she said. “I loved the name ‘throwback’ so much that I left it. I thought everybody could relate to the area being a throwback.”

SoKno Throwback and Threads offers retail therapy in South Knoxville, Feb. 15, 2023.

SoKno Throwback and Threads offers retail therapy in South Knoxville, Feb. 15, 2023.

The space was just sheetrock and exposed brick. A blank slate. “We did the rest. We painted, hung the lights, did the floors and left the old brick on two of the walls,” she said.

Lots of pink and bright colors for spring at SoKno Throwback and Threads, South Knoxville, Feb. 15, 2023.

Lots of pink and bright colors for spring at SoKno Throwback and Threads, South Knoxville, Feb. 15, 2023.

While purchasing apparel and accessories is a fun part of McLemore Thomas’s new job description, the self-confessed “people person” said she has really enjoyed seeing people return to the shop.

SoKno Throwback and Threads, South Knoxville, Feb. 15, 2023.

SoKno Throwback and Threads, South Knoxville, Feb. 15, 2023.

“I didn’t realize there are so many Airbnbs in South Knoxville. I have met people from everywhere,” she said. “A lot of UT students come in with their families from out of town. I bond with them. I can’t imagine what it is like to leave your kids, so I give them my card and they call me if they need something. It is a kind of a ministry.”

SoKno Throwback and Threads in South Knoxville has a wide range of orange and white clothes and accessories, no matter what the season. Feb. 15, 2023.

SoKno Throwback and Threads in South Knoxville has a wide range of orange and white clothes and accessories, no matter what the season. Feb. 15, 2023.

When SoKno Throwback and Threads officially opened on Aug. 1, the only orange clothing she had on display were some pants paired with plain T-shirts. That changed quickly.

Fun statement earrings at SoKno Throwback and Threads, South Knoxville, Feb. 15, 2023.

Fun statement earrings at SoKno Throwback and Threads, South Knoxville, Feb. 15, 2023.

“I think that the UT stuff at the front of the store has set the mark for us, it has really taken off,” she said. “A daughter and her mother came in, they needed an outfit every week to wear to the games. The mother posted on her sorority Facebook page and it went crazy.”

Game day accessories at SoKno Throwback and Threads, South Knoxville, Feb. 15, 2023.

Game day accessories at SoKno Throwback and Threads, South Knoxville, Feb. 15, 2023.

As for spring, McLemore Thomas was eagerly awaiting a delivery of new shoes, including bold orange and black slides and a checkerboard tank top. “I have a bunch of orange and white clothing for the baseball season. And lots of pink. When I went to the market there was so much pink. It’s the color for spring.”

Gift items at SoKno Throwback and Threads, South Knoxville, Feb. 15, 2023.

Gift items at SoKno Throwback and Threads, South Knoxville, Feb. 15, 2023.

The checkered pattern, not just orange and white checkerboard, has continued to be popular, as have boot cut jeans. “I carry Judy Blue high waisted jeans that are so stretchy, you don’t feel like you’re wearing jeans,” she added. “There are lots of bright colors, particularly for Easter. And glittery jewelry is everywhere.”

New athletic apparel at SoKno Throwback and Threads, South Knoxville, Feb. 15, 2023.

New athletic apparel at SoKno Throwback and Threads, South Knoxville, Feb. 15, 2023.

SoKno Throwback and Threads has a new-arrivals rack, a new line of athletic wear including leggings, bike shorts and sports bras. Sizes range from small to 3X.

DeAnne McLemore Thomas started a new career in 2022 and opened SoKno Throwback and Threads, South Knoxville, Feb. 15, 2023.

DeAnne McLemore Thomas started a new career in 2022 and opened SoKno Throwback and Threads, South Knoxville, Feb. 15, 2023.

McLemore Thomas has plans to work with an LA-based designer for more exclusive orange and white styles.

Statement earrings, orange claw clips and beaded coin purses make for quick and affordable gift items.

POWELL

Prom outfits at no cost? ‘It can get emotional,’ thrift store owner says

Al Lesar, Shopper News

After she had been invited to the prom and dumped three times, this girl wasn’t ready to give up.

The frustration didn’t stop her from shopping for a free dress … just in case No. 4 hit the jackpot.

The dresses are stylish at Frugality Thrift Store, making the prom-goer quite lovely.

The dresses are stylish at Frugality Thrift Store, making the prom-goer quite lovely.

While she lamented her predicament, a young man looking at suits overheard her. He, too, had been left holding the corsage by a date he had and lost.

“The girl looked at the boy and said, ‘Would you want to go to the prom together?’” said Jonathon Trotter, owner of Frugality Thrift Store, 612 Edgemoor Road, Powell. “Not only did we offer free dresses and suits, but we were a matchmaker, too.”

"It can get emotional" when families are relieved of the expense of prom, says Jonathon Trotter, owner of Frugality Thrift Store. He and manager Amy Riley are offering a free dress and suit service to the community.

“It can get emotional” when families are relieved of the expense of prom, says Jonathon Trotter, owner of Frugality Thrift Store. He and manager Amy Riley are offering a free dress and suit service to the community.

The second year of Trotter’s mission to ease the financial burden of an important high school rite of passage like the prom is off to a fast start. He has an inventory of over 600 donated dresses (an estimated value of between $10,000 and $15,000) that is continually growing in anticipation of the big events that are usually conducted in April or May.

“I had a man who had three older daughters stop in the other day,” said Amy Riley, a manager at the thrift store.

“You could tell, he had three ‘daddy’s girls.’ He brought in 20 dresses, filling a rack.”

Community steps up

Trotter, who is in his second year at the current location, worked at a nonprofit in Campbell County several years ago that had a program of loaning out prom dresses – like a library loans out books.

He gave it a shot last year and it was a huge success. Trotter said more than 300 dresses were loaned out – and only one wasn’t returned.

A wide variety of dresses are on hand ready to be borrowed.

A wide variety of dresses are on hand ready to be borrowed.

“The girl who didn’t get her dress back said it had been burned in a house fire,” Trotter said. “All I could do was hug her. We donated clothes and household items, even a microwave, for the family.”

Trotter said he was shocked with how the community responded to his project.

“We reached out for donated dresses and it was a mind-blowing experience,” Trotter said. “They were able to see the greater need. The prom is an exciting time in a teen’s life, but it could cost anywhere from $500 to $1,000, or more. We’re trying to do what we can to help ease that a bit.”

Just helping neighbors

Besides offering to loan out dresses at no cost, last year he found cosmetologists, makeup artists and hair dressers to volunteer their time in the store to take care of those essentials. Also, a local restaurant and bakery donated pizza and cookies to help the girls avoid hunger.

He plans a similar event this year and will announce the dates later.

Accessories are part of the borrowing deal.

Accessories are part of the borrowing deal.

This isn’t just a local event. Trotter said he has had people from Bristol and Chattanooga make the trip for a free dress. Both returned the dresses within three days after the event – as per the borrowing agreement.

“We cover the cost of any dry cleaning or repairs that must be done to the dresses or suits,” Trotter said.

Some dresses add elegance to the occasion.

Some dresses add elegance to the occasion.

He’s just happy that his store can play a role in helping families.

“People don’t always understand what their neighbors might be going through,” Trotter said. “Seeing the girls and their parents here, it can get emotional for them. We’re just glad to be there for them.”

HALLS

Gibbs Middle brings ‘The Lion King Jr.’ to the stage

Ali James, Shopper News

“When I’m choosing a musical, I know the talent that the students have, and they did such a fantastic job last year with ‘Schoolhouse Rock!’ that I knew I had to step it up a bit,” said Alison Werner, choral director at Gibbs Middle School.

The Gibbs Middle School cast for Disney’s “The Lion King Jr.” on Feb. 7, 2023.

The Gibbs Middle School cast for Disney’s “The Lion King Jr.” on Feb. 7, 2023.

In front of her students, Werner teased the big reveal of this year’s production, Disney’s “The Lion King Jr.”

“I had a bunch of musicals on the board and kept taking away the ones we weren’t doing, then I dressed up in a lion costume, held a Lion King poster and was singing the opening lyrics of ‘Circle of Life’,” she said. “They went crazy and loved it.”

“Basically, everyone auditions for the same part in October and from that I decide whether they will be a better fit for a certain character,” said Werner. “I think a lot of them thought they would be Simba or Mufasa, but now that we have done a lot of the blocking, they are excited to be in the parts that were chosen.”

Gibbs Middle School actors in Disney’s “The Lion King Jr.” pose in their characters’ masks. Back row, from left: Keean Norman, Bradley Abraham, Levi Dunlap, Logan West, Sophie Carter; front row: Jackson Weaver, Ellie Burnette Feb. 7, 2023

Gibbs Middle School actors in Disney’s “The Lion King Jr.” pose in their characters’ masks. Back row, from left: Keean Norman, Bradley Abraham, Levi Dunlap, Logan West, Sophie Carter; front row: Jackson Weaver, Ellie Burnette Feb. 7, 2023

Eighth grader Ellie Burnette was cast as Timon. “I love doing the shows and ‘Lion King’ was my favorite movie growing up,” Burnette said during rehearsal. “The most helpful thing is to do the show in my mind.”

One of the funniest scenes, Burnette said, is where Timon leads Pumbaa in a hula hoop dance scene to distract Scar’s Hyenas.

“I have the choreography and Jackson, who plays Pumbaa, has to copy me,” said Burnette. “The songs are amazing; Elton John is incredible, and the actors are so good. Wait until you hear Harmony (Young Simba) sing; she is in sixth grade and is so good.”

Gibbs Middle School students rehearse for Disney’s “The Lion King Jr.” on Feb. 7, 2023.

Gibbs Middle School students rehearse for Disney’s “The Lion King Jr.” on Feb. 7, 2023.

Jackson Weaver’s favorite part of the show is when Pumbaa and Timon make their entrance, running onto the stage.

“When we have tech day and run through the whole show, it’s so much fun,” said Weaver. “You feel successful before you do the whole thing live. We all have our thing. I love acting, so I never lose the love for the music, no matter how many times we sing the songs.”

The key differences in a junior production, according to Werner, are that the ranges are more suitable for younger voices and the script is more likely to get straight to the point and move on in a scene such as the one when Mufasa talks about the ancestors looking down on them.

“A lot of the music is still there,” said Werner. “I think everyone knows ‘The Lion King,’ whether you have seen a live stage show or the movie, but there is some music in the stage version that is not in the movie. ‘Shadowland’ is really good and has a good meaning behind it.”

Gibbs Middle School students rehearse for Disney’s “The Lion King Jr.” on Feb. 7, 2023.

Gibbs Middle School students rehearse for Disney’s “The Lion King Jr.” on Feb. 7, 2023.

Werner said it is also important to pick a show whose music she enjoys. “We worked on learning the music during November and December, which is already a busy time for the choral department,” she said. “But they didn’t really start rehearsing on stage until mid-January.”

Gibbs Middle School students rehearse for Disney’s “The Lion King Jr.,” Feb. 7, 2023.

Gibbs Middle School students rehearse for Disney’s “The Lion King Jr.,” Feb. 7, 2023.

One of the biggest challenges for Werner was stage direction. “These students are used to everyone being on the stage for pretty much the whole show,” she said. “They are not used to being off stage and knowing when to come back.”

For the first time, the Gibbs Middle School cast will have a professional makeup artist help them bring their characters to life. “We are not crawling around acting like animals and trying to re-create the cartoon characters, we are just portraying them,” said Werner.

Gibbs Middle School students rehearse for Disney’s “The Lion King Jr.” on Feb. 7, 2023. Pictured: Maythan Robinson and Sophie Carter.

Gibbs Middle School students rehearse for Disney’s “The Lion King Jr.” on Feb. 7, 2023. Pictured: Maythan Robinson and Sophie Carter.

First Baptist Academy students handcrafted the masks and props that are going to be used in the March 2-4 shows. “They are bringing some of their cast who performed it to see it,” said Werner. “Gibbs Elementary students will get to come over to see the show during the school day, too.”

What: Disney’s The Lion King Jr.When: 7 p.m. March 2-4, 2023Where: Gibbs Middle School AuditoriumCost: $8 for students, $10 for adults. Purchase online at https://search.seatyourself.biz/webstore/accounts/gibbsms/buy-tix Cutlines:

This article originally appeared on Knoxville News Sentinel: Shopper News brings you the latest happenings in your community

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