InteriorsShop Tour

Shop Tour: Hey Rooster General Store in Nashville, TN

by Erin Austen Abbott

Hey Rooster on Design*Sponge

When Courtney Webb opened her shop Hey Rooster General Store in East Nashville, TN almost four years ago, she poured her heart into renovating her little freestanding building, bringing life to the once drab building. The exterior of her shop became part of her brand, and when she learned that she was going to lose her lease, she asked herself, do I close, or do I relocate? As she started looking for a new space, it seems that fate intervened and was on the side of this Nashville local.

“As I was losing my lease — due to the landlord wanting to turn it back into his office — a local and beloved used bookstore called BookMan BookWoman was also closing and breaking Nashville’s heart,” Courtney recalls. “The owners made the decision to retire, but remained owners of the building. I frequently visited a friend opening a restaurant nearby and saw the ‘for sale’ sign go up [at the bookstore]. My heart sank because, well, I could never buy that! […] In late January, all who expressed interest [in the bookstore] received an email from the owners saying they would not sell, but lease and look for a tenant! I closed my East Nashville shop and headed over to meet the owners. We talked about old Nashville and I told them that if I rented the space I wanted to carry on the legacy of BookWoman by keeping the painted name on the building and developing a learning library focused on books by women, about women, feminism, etc. General stores have always been spaces for community, and [I told them] ‘this is the kind of space and energy we need right now.’ As we were talking, the neighborhood Chinese New Year parade went by. I said [to the owners], ‘You know today is the first day of the Year of the Rooster?’ I signed the lease a few days later and started working on the space a few days after that.”

Since the bookstore occupied the building for so many years and had become such a Nashville staple to the area known as Hillsboro Village, Courtney wanted to honor the former while bringing the brand she had built into the fold. “Leaving our recognizable storefront [behind] was a challenge and I did not want any interruption in our brand,” she shares. “I wanted the new location to feel like the old shop. It was my goal to make sure existing customers would recognize where they are although we have moved, expanded, and added inventory. I like to call the style ‘Mid-Century Farmhouse,’ and I think we’ve been able to continue that in the new space.” Now with bright green floors and the spirit of a beloved old bookstore, Hey Rooster General Store lives on in its new chapter. —Erin

Photography by Hannah Messinger

Image above: Combining three vintage doors, Courtney and her stepfather, Dean, were able to build the front counter at Hey Rooster.

Hey Rooster on Design*Sponge
Courtney Webb, owner of Hey Rooster, in front of the wall that she uncovered from behind drywall. "I knew there was some brick, but taking the shelves out revealed a beautiful wall of weathered brick, plaster, and chipping layers of sandy brown, pink, and blue paint. It's a piece of art that only time and roof leaks can create and not very common in Nashville," she shares.
Hey Rooster on Design*Sponge
"All the cans of grey porch and patio paint were purchased and sitting in the back room waiting to go on the floor. It never felt right. On a whim and not being able to get a pinned green floor out of my mind, I rushed around to several different paint and hardware stores trying to find the right shade of green. I would normally spend more time choosing a color, but we had to get finished and open the store. I'm so glad I did it. I still wonder if there was a better green since I rushed, but it brings the outside in and gives us a signature design detail like our yellow door in our first shop home," Courtney says.
Hey Rooster on Design*Sponge
"The pantry is near the front of the store and has many Nashville-made goods for tourists to notice from the outside. The top part of the pantry was a Nashville Flea Market find. It was from a drugstore in Alabama, but it had no base. A few vendors away we bought a pair of 8' doors and made the base. Buying old doors for furniture is way less expensive than buying wood and it usually has beautiful detailing and is very solid."
Hey Rooster on Design*Sponge
Courtney shares, "My shop has a food addiction and we don't stop on the pantry shelves. Colorful tea towels, cookbooks, and aprons pop on alternating wood and white walls. I [defined] space along this 50' wall by pulling the barn wood wall away from the white wall and seemingly pushing the bookshelves into it. The merchandise looks more organized than it would on a single-plane, single-color wall."
Hey Rooster on Design*Sponge
"Toward the back of the store, next to the forthcoming learning library, we're collecting some of our favorite feminist goods. This is our most shopped part of the store right now."
Hey Rooster on Design*Sponge
"We relocated this chevron barn wood wall from the original store. We removed one piece at a time, removing nails and numbering each section. It didn't go back together so easily. No old buildings are square and moving one out of [a] square wall to another was a challenge, but one worth going for. I [...] will always love the patina, texture, and rhythm of this wall. The wood is from a barn that collapsed near my family home during a tornado on Leap Day in 2012. We were able to recover the wood before it sat on the ground too long. The table with the file boxes is yet another rescue and reuse project. The files are from the Nashville Flea Market. I removed all the drawers and spray painted all the parts a sunny, happy yellow. The wood box is made from pre-cut 8' pine boards from Lowe's. They needed to be cut only a little to fit. I bought legs from one of my favorite websites, Hair Pin Legs. They arrive with pre-drilled flanges and attach in minutes," Courtney explains.
Hey Rooster on Design*Sponge
The mixing of brands has given Hey Rooster a fresh look, with some changes still to be made. "We still have a black and white stripe awning in the new location just below the BookWoman painted sign. I plan to leave the sign, but may make some other upgrades to the outside over time. I would like to paint the ramp and window frames. I also daydream about painting the brick white (don't worry, it's already painted brick color), painting BookWoman grey, and adding some planters to bring the green outside as well."

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  • Awww! I used to live in East Nashville and would always go to the General Store to get welcome gifts for guests. I am glad she found a permanent home and brought some more local flair to Hillsboro Village.

  • I live in Nashville and Hillsboro Village has been a staple of independent retail and restaurants—until just recently when higher rents have threatened its integrity. I am so glad to know another local business has made a (beautiful) home there. I was sad to see BookMan/Woman close, but am so glad the former owners have stayed involved in the neighborhood.

  • I was just in this store when I visited in November. Glad to know that it’ll still be around. I love their new storefront!