The happiest place in Middle Tennessee is a little gift shop located on Nolensville Pike.
Happy Place Market and Mercantile are sisters Carol Morris and Barbara Joyce’s childhood dream come true. Ever since they were children, Carol and Barbara say they dreamt of opening a store where everyone could walk in and find something they love whilst maintaining affordable prices for their products.
In May 2021, these childhood dreams became a reality and the doors to Happy Place were officially opened. However, it didn’t exactly start this way.
Before Happy Place Market and Mercantile, Carol had been working in the corporate world. In August 2016, she was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, an autoimmune disorder that impacts the central nervous system in which the body attacks itself by mistake. Between her MS diagnosis and COVID-19 happening four years later, she says she realized she needed to take a step back and de-stress her life. This included leaving her job after spending 20 years with her company.
“I felt my MS was progressing, so I just needed to slow down and stop and redo my life and the first thing that came to my mind was my job,” Carol explains. “One day I gave my notice and that was it, after 20 years with a company. Then my first idea was to open up my own store.”
Now, she spends her days at her Happy Place.
Here, there’s a gift for everyone, and behind every product is a small business or nonprofit that benefits from every purchase made. From stickers and pins for children to gift baskets filled with local products to birthday cards, candles and even apparel, the Happy Place offers it all. With their business, Carol and Barbara have built friendships with their vendors and customers, as evidenced by the amount of love put into each detail at the store.
“The biggest surprise was the outpouring of just happiness and joy, and the people we’ve met,” Barbara says. “We couldn't do it without them or local support and how many new people are constantly coming in. It's just so fun and makes it all so worth it. We’re not like ‘Oh we just need to fill the shelves,’ we’ve put so much time and thought into everything.”
“We put thought into everything and these vendors have become our family,” Carol adds.
In January 2022, Barbara joined Carol at the Happy Place, fulfilling their dream of owning a store together.
“Besides getting to hang out every day and getting to live out this dream that we’ve had for so long, just knowing that someone has your back and it’s the person you trust and love the most like it’s your person you get to experience this with,” Carol explains. “We’ve always been so close and we’ve always worked for somebody else, and now it’s ours and it’s our future."
“We get to appreciate what we’ve put into it and we get to share the joy of what we get out of what we put into it and it means so much more because it is ours,” Barbara says.
As for Carol’s MS, she doesn’t let it define her, and she continues to do the things she loves.
“It is insane how many people that I have met and have come in and been like ‘I have MS’ and you wouldn’t know they had MS, and you wouldn’t know I have it either,” Carol says. “It doesn’t define me but this is what helped me make the Happy Place my happy place and bring me back to my zen zone. It took the stress out and gave me fun.”
With all of the love they’ve poured into their store, they’ve managed to create a calm and stress-free shopping experience. Whether a first-time customer or the seventh time there, shoppers indicate they feel right at home. They also have gifts for people of all age groups, from children to grandparents, and it’s an incredible spot to find a gift for Valentine’s Day.
One of their most popular items is a gift basket that is filled with products from local businesses. Their gift baskets are a perfect gift for someone who just moved to the area or for someone who is looking to be introduced to new businesses. To make the shopping experience even more special, Happy Place also offers gift-wrapping services.
Carol and Barbara have found their happy place, and now, these sisters hope that Happy Place Market and Mercantile will become everyone else's happy place, too.
“The biggest surprise was the outpouring of happiness, joy and people we’ve met,” says Barbara Joyce.