Women in Business

Keeping it classy

Tommy and Lynn Nicholson pride themselves on customer service at The Classy Flea in Franklin. Jessi Stone photo Tommy and Lynn Nicholson pride themselves on customer service at The Classy Flea in Franklin. Jessi Stone photo

Lynn Nicholson has always been a good saleswoman — not because she’s pushy and overbearing but because she’s personable and treats everyone like family. 

“I’ve always been told I could sell ice to an Eskimo,” she joked. “But really I’ve always been a people person and I’ve met some of the nicest people here through the years.”

Nicholson is referring to the business she runs in Franklin alongside her husband Tommy Nicholson — The Classy Flea. The store is not your typical flea market with dirty and dusty junk selling for a quarter. It’s clean and organized with vendors offering everything from homemade crafts and furniture to vintage items you won’t find anywhere else. 

“We try to keep it clean and reasonably priced,” Lynn said.

“It’s probably the best-kept secret place in Franklin,” Tommy added. 

The Classy Flea is somewhat of a hidden treasure in town, but it’s not too hard to find. Located on a small dirt road just off Georgia Road, the store prides itself on offering antiques, good stuff and cool junk. You know what they say, one man’s junk is another man’s treasure — and there’s definitely something for everyone at The Classy Flea. 

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There are now 40 vendors filling the booths at Classy Flea, plus whatever Lynn and Tommy bring in from their treasure hunts. They love to travel around searching for unique pieces to offer their clientele. With so many estate sales and families downsizing these days, they never know what they may discover along the way. 

“It’s all about the find. I love to prowl in people’s basements,” Lynn laughed. “We might go somewhere and find nothing or we may buy everything from an estate sale if the price is right.”

Lynn worked for the Macon County Health Department for many years until she got sick in 2004 and decided it was time to retire. While she worked at the health department, she also did a lot of direct sales work for Home Party Plan, Tupperware, Avon and others. She wasn’t looking for another job, but The Classy Flea came to her by way of the original owner Brenda Angel. As a cancer survivor, Angel’s health just wouldn’t allow her to continue the business, but she didn’t want to see it go by the wayside. 

“I had a booth in the Classy Flea … Brenda came to me one day and said, ‘God told me you needed this business,’” Lynn recalled. “I told her no because I was too busy but she asked me again in December — I told her I’d run it for her through the winter and we’d re-evaluate come March.”

During the winter months, Lynn said she prayed hard about whether she and Tommy should buy the business. She asked God for a sign and sure enough, she said, he delivered. 

“Winter is usually such a slow time but we blew it out of the water with sales in January,” Lynn said. “I had prayed about it and he had definitely shown me.” 

They bought the business in 2014 and continue to find new items to sell and new ways to market their business to the public. Lynn said they also try to take care of their vendors by offering low rent and only asking a small percentage of their sales. She currently has a waiting list for vendors wanting booth space. 

Not everything is second-hand. The Classy Flea sells a line of homemade solid wood furniture, offers a line of homemade jams, jellies, honey and ciders, Blacklock meats from Clayton, Georgia, and other handmade local crafts and decor. 

For Lynn, it’s all about the people and providing outstanding customer service. When you walk into Classy Flea, she’s there to help you find what you’re looking for. That personal service isn’t something you can always find at the big box stores. 

“I try to treat everyone the same way I’d want to be treated,” she said. “Customer service is a big thing for us — we’re a small enough business that we have time to give you that eye contact and attention.”

The Classy Flea is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and is located at 51 Union Otto Day Care Rd., Franklin. Inventory changes weekly. Call 828.421.7782 for more information or follow Lynn Nicholson on Facebook. 

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