Chuck's Town Square Tour: Franklin

Farm Girl Mercantile (Photo: WTHR)
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FRANKLIN, Ind. (WTHR) — Have you been to downtown Franklin lately? In the past three years, this Johnson County town has not only grown but evolved into its own destination spot.

As part of our Chuck's Town Square Tour, we paid a visit to Franklin and found a lively, inviting Hoosier town that is focusing on local goods, delicious food and even a ministry benefiting women 9,000 miles away.

Our first stop was to Tracy Bohler's Farm Girl Mercantile. Her inspiration was the general store on the old NBC show, "Little House On The Prairie." She wanted her own mercantile store and in this old house, she has it all — such as repurposed barn wood to use for old signs, chic boutique clothes and a front room full of vintage Christmas decorations. For Tracy, this store is a dream come true.

Julie Stewart's Salvage Sisters Antique Market highlights a lot of local artisans with jewelry, clothing and artwork highlighted in more than two dozen spaces. This building is a destination spot for many heading to Franklin to shop — especially for unique Christmas gifts.

My producer Megan and photographer Scott really enjoyed Toodleydoo Toys — a wonderful store where kids actually play with toys that don't involve a computer! I was struck at the amount of fun, developmental toys that really encourage collaborative play. You wouldn't expect to find a store like this in a small town, but it's here, and I saw a number of potential Christmas gifts for some small children that I know they will love. The slogan here is "We play, we learn, we love."

Sampling the candles at Middle Davids (WTHR Staff)
Candle display at Middle Davids. (WTHR Staff)
Earrings display at Middle Davids. (WTHR Staff)
BYTAVI Boutique display. (WTHR Staff)
BYTAVI Boutique team. (WTHR Staff)
BYTAVI Boutique holiday display. (WTHR Staff)
BYTAVI Boutique seamstress photos. (WTHR Staff)
BYTAVI Boutique clothing display. (WTHR Staff)
BYTAVI Boutique holiday display. (WTHR Staff)
Glass ornament at Farm Girl Mercantile. (WTHR Staff)
Chuck Lofton and Farm Girl Mercantile owner Tracy Bohler. (WTHR Staff)
Farm Girl Mercantile clothing display. (WTHR Staff)
Farm Girl Mercantile holiday display. (WTHR Staff)
Farm Girl Mercantile silver Christmas tree. (WTHR Staff)
Farm Girl Mercantile display. (WTHR Staff)
Salvage Sisters jewelry display. (WTHR Staff)
Booth at Salvage Sisters. (WTHR Staff)
Chuck Lofton and Salvage Sisters owner Julie Stewart. (WTHR Staff)
Holiday display at Salvage Sisters. (WTHR Staff)
Chuck Lofton and Toodleydoo Toys owner Debi Pearson. (WTHR Staff)
Child's shirt at Toodleydoo Toys. (WTHR Staff)
Children playing at Toodleydoo Toys. (WTHR Staff)
Toodleydoo Toys. (WTHR Staff)
Book collection at Wild Geese Bookshop. (WTHR Staff)
Wild Geese Bookshop display. (WTHR Staff)
Children's section at Wild Geese Bookshop. (WTHR Staff)
Chuck Lofton and Wild Geese Bookshop owner Tiffany Phillips. (WTHR Staff)
Book collection at Wild Geese Bookshop. (WTHR Staff)
Vintage Whimsy Christmas tree ornament display. (Jennifer McAlpin-Shireman)
Vintage Whimsy holiday cabinet display. (Jennifer McAlpin-Shireman)
Vintage Whimsy sleigh display. (Jennifer McAlpin-Shireman)

Take a step into Middle Davids Artisan Candles & Gifts, and the aroma of these homemade, soy candles is so inviting. They specialize in fundraising production, but you can buy individual candles here, and they are wonderful — and the price is good too. By the way, Middle Davids' name comes from the owner and his father who share David as their middle name!

My favorite store in Franklin is BYTAVI Boutique — a wonderful boutique that showcases the work of Cambodian women, some of whom have escaped the sex trafficking industry. This is a ministry that anyone can be a part of. You get a chance to purchase boutique clothing, sweaters and beautiful bags all produced by these women 9,000 miles away. Stop and chat to the ladies in the store about how your purchase will help give them an opportunity to provide for their families and build a career at the same time. ByTavi also wholesales goods to other boutiques.

I loved meeting and talking with attorney Tiffany Phillips inside her Wild Geese Bookshop. This is a labor of love for Tiffany and her Franklin College professor husband. Tiffany wanted a community space where residents and children could love books and build community. She also regularly has book signings — most recently including TV host and author Mike Rowe.

There’s also Vintage Whimsy, which has been offering unique home décor and gifts since 2012. The items are all handpicked from around the Midwest — selected to reflect today’s trends in home décor.

Take an afternoon or a day, and fall in love with the growing, attractive and wonderful downtown Franklin.

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Friday's live hits on Sunrise were broadcast from the Main & Market Café, which features pastries, hand-made coffees and delightful eats.

Weekend Events in Franklin

Need weekend plans? There's no better time to make the trip to Franklin!

Downtown Franklin Holiday Open House

  • Friday, Nov. 8 and Saturday, Nov. 9 from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
  • Featuring more than 40 retailers, restaurants and businesses
  • Visit at least 10 participating businesses with your punch card for a chance to win various prize packages valued at $100 or more.

Johnson County Antique & Vintage Market

  • Saturday, Nov. 9 from 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. at the Johnson County Fairgrounds.
  • Shop through a selection of antiques and vintage collectibles, including furniture, advertising, primitives, jewelry, glassware, art, turquoise, lighting and more. Homemade breakfast and lunch is also available.
  • $2 admission.

KIC-IT Holiday Craft & Vendor Show

  • Saturday, Nov. 9 from 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. at Franklin Community Middle School.
  • Featuring over 100 crafters and vendors, visit with Santa, raffle prizes and homemade baked goods.
  • $3 admission or $2 if you donate one non-perishable item for the food pantry. All proceeds from admission sales will support homeless youth ages 16 - 25 in Johnson County.

Fall Artist Showcase

  • Saturday, Nov. 9 from 3 - 9 p.m. in the historic Alva Neal building.
  • The Creative Council of Franklin is hosting 14 artists and three musicians.
  • Free admission.