FranklinIs Connected

Franklin on Foot and Handy Hardware Partner Together

Franklin on Foot and Handy Hardware Partner Together

Tucked just off Columbia Avenue, Handy Hardware has been supplying the  downtown Franklin neighborhood with repair parts, paint, plumbing products,  and other traditional items one would expect to find in a store of its kind for more than 40 years.

Recently, the family-owned shop partnered with local business Franklin on Foot, in a unified effort to raise visibility and expand current customer bases. In March, tour company owner Margie Thessin moved Franklin Bike Tours & Rentals operations to the large storage unit connected to the old-fashioned hardware store. The mobile tours, which begin where the bikes are stored, provide small, guide-led groups and short rentals.

Thessin said the decision to begin at the historic building was an easy one: it aligned with her company’s purpose, to reconnect both locals and tourists alike with the rich heritage in Williamson County.

“Handy Hardware has been here since 1971; it’s really a staple in this community,” Thessin said. “It was a natural choice to ask Andy [Willoughby, of Handy Hardware] to rent his space. Beginning bike tours from his shop allows both of us to further raise awareness of our small businesses and how we’re adding to the character of downtown.”

Franklin on Foot offers two tours from the seat of a bicycle seven days a week, on a reservation basis. The Scenic Franklin option passes through the town’s most historic neighborhoods, taking participants through the likes of the Factory, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church and the O’More College of Design campus. The Civil War tour pedals to historic destinations such as Fort Granger, the old Courthouse and Rest Haven Cemetery. It also includes tickets to Carter and Lotz Houses and Carnton Plantation.

Willoughby said he believes the pairing will benefit both new and old faces, alike.“This is a good alliance between two local businesses, and we’re happy to host the bikes tours from the store. It’s valuable to the community because it brings new people into Franklin, and it allows our old friends to see Franklin in a different way,” Willoughby said. “It’s nice because here, we’ve had a recent focus on providing customers with more wide-ranging offerings.”

Last year, Handy Hardware began hosting the “Viva! NashVegas Radio Show” every other Saturday morning. The George Hamilton V-led program streams live acoustic acts through Internet channels, and Willoughby said has built a strong following through his alternative radio show. In addition to regaling customers with down-home and bluegrass tunes on select weekends, the store recently began carrying a host of gift items.

“Over the past few months, we’ve added more general store merchandise, so that we can appeal to both our regular customers and visitors alike,” Willoughby said. “If you’re a local, you can pick up a wrench and Myers dish detergent. A visitor can pick up one of our gift sets. Recently we started carrying our own line of all-natural soap and body products for men and women.”

For more information about Handy Hardware, visit its location at 731 Columbia Avenue or go to  To learn more about Franklin on Foot, call 615-400-3808 or visit