By Molly Spero, 2016
Before we explored the Franklin Pumpkin Festival, we wanted to warm up with coffee. Crabtree General Store and Coffee Vault was just the place for that. It was an old-fashioned, yet modernized general store, reflecting the small-town feel of Franklin. Friendly cashiers welcomed us with a smile, and the coffee aroma filled the store. Crabtree General sold every type of coffee drink from cappuccinos to green tea chai lattes at their fully coffee bar. Their coffee beans were imported from Black Mountain. Tucked away there was a tiny Wifi lounge where we sipped our coffees and talked about our plan to conquer the festival.
Once we finished our drinks, we walked around, looking at all sorts of wonderful, random, and unique items that cluttered the store. There were barrels spilling over with old-fashioned candy like colored taffy, crystal rock candy, giant gummy bears, and both mini and supersized jawbreakers. Creams and lip balm from J.R. Watkins and Burt’s Bees lined a shelf, along with local jams and jellies. Hung up on the wall were “Home” shirts, the t-shirts with the state of NC printed on the front. There was a whole toy section with Melissa and Doug stuffed animals, puzzles, board games, wooden trains, and model cars. Another section displayed cute wine glasses with funny sayings like, “It’s wine o’ clock somewhere” and “I tend to wine a lot,” in addition to other home décor items.
As we were looking around, a woman with curly, short blond hair wearing a glittery pumpkin asked how we were doing and if we were enjoying the festival. Much to our surprise, she was Karen Crabtree, co-owner of the General Store with her husband and three grown sons. The Crabtree family opened the store in 2015, and although the store had been open for less than a year, it has made a name for itself as a community gathering spot. Mrs. Crabtree grew up in Franklin, and after moving away for college, was drawn back to the small town to reconnect with relatives, bringing her own family, too. She was glad to come back home because she “enjoys the sense of family that Franklin offers.” After telling her about our Highway 64 trip, we thanked her and went outside.
The wrap around patio of Crabtree General overlooked the town, providing a panoramic view of the festival. White rocking chairs added to its southern, homey charm. At a table selling General Store logo t-shirts and hoodies, we were offered samples of an assortment of apple, pumpkin and banana butters. We taste tested all three and couldn’t pick our favorite. The butters were only the first of many delicious festival foods we tried that day. We left the store warmed from the coffee and ready to explore Franklin’s annual Pumpkin Fest.