Monday, April 30, 2012

Trying to press on: Yee-Haw's last day

I've never been the type of person that wants to meet a band or musician after a show. I find it awkward, no, impossible, trying to verbalize my inexpressible feelings about something that has stirred my soul.

I've found myself waiting outside a tour bus parked in an alley, however, to appease giddy friends with albums in tow. When it's my turn to shake the artist's hand, my default phrase is something like, "Thank you for what you do," and then I'm out of there. No gushing, no awkward lingering. It's not my style.


This morning, I biked downtown to run a work errand and saw the doors of Yee-Haw open, clothing racks lining the entrance. I locked up my bike and walked inside.

Kevin Bradley was off to the right, sporting his plaid pant uniform, sifting through prints, and filling a long list of online orders. He looked up at me and said, "Hello, honey," and gave me hug. "How are you?"

"It's a sad day," I said.

His response: "It's beyond that."

I picked through the prints, finding ones I've always wanted but have never gotten around to buying- the lady that's an ice-cream cone, a Farmer's Market strawberry card, mini cards reading "Te Quiero." I also picked up a journal and a postcard that says "Knoxville Girl," because I had to. I lusted after the larger, more expensive prints, wishing I could indulge.

A few other customers came through while I was there- an older couple shuffling through the endless array of prints and a woman in a dress suit who walked in knowing exactly what she wanted- a tote bag with a pink ice-cream cone printed on it.

When I had made my choices, I walked up to the counter to a voiceless Julie Belcher (she lost it yesterday) who hand-wrote my receipt and whispered my total. She smiled as she bagged up my items.

While I stood there, I wondered if I should say something encouraging or complimentary.

I've really appreciated your work.
You're going to be missed. 
Y'all... y'all are awesome.

What came out instead was, "I wanted more than this, but I'm on my bike. How long will y'all be selling online?"

"Til midnight," she whispered.  (Kevin will be at the shop until at least 7 this evening, too.)

As she handed me my bag of goodies, I thanked her and walked out the door, signifying the death of my longest Knoxville business crush.


Going against my normal protocol, I'll linger here a little longer to give a few thoughts about the closing of Yee-Haw.

My personal praises for Yee-Haw are mostly in regard to how they have ridden the impossible line of making good art that sells in Knoxville. They have transformed a creative passion into a viable business, basing it in Knoxville but extending their talents internationally. When the art-scene looks bleak (because it does more often than not when you are a working artist here), I'm reminded of their presence and it puts me at ease. They have been a role-model by consistently inspiring me to stay and encourage the contemporary art scene here. They've inspired me to work harder.

And while I think Knoxville needs Yee-Haw, I know I can't force it to stay. I can, however, be thankful for what they have done for Knoxville and the art scene here. I am and will continue to be long after their doors have closed.

1 comment:

casey k said...

THANK YOU for posting this. Got there just in time to pick up a few things I'd been eyeing for a loooong time.