In the late fall of 2018, Ande Truman took over High Cotton, a two-story treasure chest full of small business vendors on College Street in Dickson.

“For a couple years it’s been like pushing a boulder up a hill,” said Truman. “I think it’s finally getting there. Vickie Mitchell, who was the owner had different set up and she passed away in 2018.”

The two-story building currently houses 95 vendors, with 55 vendors on a waiting list. Truman also handles another location, Mulberry Mill on Mulberry Street in Dickson.

“Shopping downtown is very much like going to the mall,” Truman said. “Everybody’s success is our success and our success is theirs as well. The vendors here support each other and share success."

Halle Strom is the manager at High Cotton.

“There is such a variety of items,” said Strom. “We have something for everyone. There are crystals, soaps, skates, beauty aids, and they appeal to different types of personalities. I think one of the biggest challenges is communication because there are so many different people that we need to get on the same page.”

Truman was born in upstate New York and grew up in central North Carolina. She said she worked at a TV station in Charlotte, N.C., for six years before coming to Dickson. Strom lived in Cross Plains, Texas (near Abilene) for 12 years and then lived in Spring Hill before moving to Dickson two years ago.

“Giving anybody a chance to try their hand at building a small business is very powerful and positive,” said Strom. “You learn that customers here like that things are always changing. There’s a strong sense of connection. Even if they don’t buy something, they get nurtured. We want people to feel good, not rushed. Another positive is that we are all learning and growing together.”

Both Truman and Strom said that Saturdays are the busiest day for sales.

“Some of the most popular items are holistic healing items like gems, jewelry and sage, as well as Eastern gifts,” said Strom. “Also popular are food items, clothing boutique, décor home, homemade gifts, antiques, vintage items; as well as soaps and oils, perfume, children’s clothing, knickknacks, and candles.”

One of the most cherished items for Truman is a woodwork storage item that was put together by her father who died when she was 9. It is on display and used for storage but is not for sale.

High Cotton was closed for seven weeks about a year ago during the early days of the pandemic.

“People spent more time at home,” said Truman. “They got bored, and then they started making things. Then people came out of the woodwork. We had homeopathic items. T-shirts from 80s rock bands. All kinds of items.”

High Cotton attracts a mix of shoppers and vendors. Some of the customers have come from Murfreesboro, Clarksville and Nashville.

One of the building’s attractions is a working freight elevator from 1910.

Truman said that her mother owned a business when Truman was in high school.

“It was a two-story gift store in a small town in the south,” she said. “It was a challenge. One of my motivations for getting into business was doing it differently. One thing I love about this store is that we have about 95 people trying out businesses for themselves in a small way. So, our business is kind of an incubator.”

Both Strom and Truman said they love the challenge that comes with bringing out the best in others.

“We want people to feel good when they come in,” said Truman. “They don’t have to feel rushed. It’s OK even just to look and take your time.”