An abundance of joy with Simple Blessings in downtown Elizabethton

Published 5:28 pm Monday, June 24, 2019

By Angela Caito

Nearly two and a half years ago, Simple Blessings General Store, a family owned and operated small business in downtown Elizabethton, opened their doors for the very first time. Since the store opened on day one, owners Rita and Keith Russell and their family have worked non-stop to ensure that every person who walks through the front door feels welcome as they browse the merchandise or stop in for a quick bite to eat during the workday. As a reviewer on Google stated, “If you visit one place in Elizabethton, make it Simple Blessings.”

When you walk through the front doors of Simple Blessings General Store, you immediately feel right at home as you seemingly take a few steps back in time to the days when you could find everything you needed all under one roof. Unlike big box stores like Walmart, where sure, you can virtually find any product under the sun when you need it, shops like this are locally owned and every piece of merchandise on the shelf was carefully chosen by a shop owner who cares about the clientele they serve.

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Rita has long been ordering her products and she carefully chooses everything from the ever popular Simply Southern T-shirts to the individually wrapped candies and even the arts and crafts that are handcrafted by local artisans. There is not one piece of merchandise in the store that doesn’t have careful consideration for what the customers want.

The store also has a deli in the back where people can order hot dogs, salads and sandwiches and other quick to make foods that customers can sit down and eat or take with them. During the Saturday night weekly Cruise-In throughout the summer months, they enjoy meeting new people and seeing familiar faces as they stay open late on those evenings to make sure the crowd has ample choices for dinner if they stop by. They even serve old-fashioned hand-dipped ice cream with the staple favorites including butter pecan for those who enjoy the finer flavors and cookies and cream and Superman which seem to be the flavor favs for the kids.   

Rita said, “The car show customers are loyal, wonderful customers and we love being open during the weekly cruise-in.”

While Simple Blessings General Store offers customers food from their deli, they are also very supportive of the other local restaurants downtown and enjoy having a wide variety of food options to choose from.

She also mentioned how well the Evenings on Elk event has been for business. The event was started by local business creative, Chasity Thompson, who works at Building 520 in the heart of downtown. The event is held every second Friday and has been a huge success for the businesses that participate by staying open later and catering to the public to show what the downtown offers. Evenings on Elk also features live music, a food truck rally and fun events for all ages throughout the evening. The next Evenings on Elk will be held on July 12 from 5-9 p.m.

The store also participates in events throughout the year including the Halloween downtown Trick-Or-Treating, the Art Walk, Christmas events and more. She said they try to participate in everything possible.

Simple Blessings General Store offers painting classes from Tennessee Mountain Art monthly throughout the year. Classes are only $30, and participants can come to the paint class and paint a picture to take home with them. The next class, taught by Russell’s daughter and owner of Tennessee Mountain Art, artist Tina Laws, will be held on June 28 and information can be found on the Tennessee Mountain Art Facebook page.

If you ask Rita Russell what her favorite thing about being downtown is, she will tell you that she feels like everyone downtown is like one big family. She said, “With all the business owners and workers downtown, everyone is so friendly and it’s just a good environment and the customers are just so wonderful.” The shop has many repeat customers and while they love seeing them frequently, they also enjoy meeting new people and have become close with many of the residents who have summer homes in the area and those who are visiting short term.

You can join Rita and Keith Russel and their hardworking family at their downtown shop, Simple Blessings General Store at 508 East Elk Avenue in downtown Elizabethton. Inside the store you can find T-shirts and clothing, local arts and crafts, candy and one of a kind children’s toys and collectibles but you’re also going to find an abundance of joy as you find the simple blessings of life all under one roof in the heart of downtown.

Angela Caito is a freelance writer, film producer and publicist who writes a variety of columns nationwide. Sidewalk Stories is an initiative of the steering committee of the Main Street program and one that Angela is currently working on to help promote our downtown businesses. To contact Angela to be included in Sidewalk Stories you can email her at: