~story and photo by Bob Gustin
Selling antiques comes naturally for Jeff Tracy.
Growing up in Seymour, antiques were the family business and his father had a booth in the Gypsy Moon flea market on Indiana 46 at Gnaw Bone.
When Jeff was ready to leave his job as general manager of an auto dealership in Seymour, he gravitated to the Gnaw Bone area and wound up buying 58 acres across from the Gypsy Moon. The property he bought was once a large flea market and the resting ground for old farm implements. The implements were removed, buildings remodeled, and It became Gnaw Bone Creek Trading Post.
“It was like I bought a piece of my childhood,” he said.
Jeff and his wife, Patty, set out to transform the property. The main building has become a general store with pizza and other food for sale, and a small antique mall. Other structures remain flea market stalls, along with a “picker’s alley” offering supplies for do-it-yourselfers and other items. The store is open every day. Flea markets are open Friday through Sunday.
The general store has a nostalgic feel to it, with Coca-Cola memorabilia, glass jars full of candy and a variety of old and new items for sale. Pizza is baked on site, and Jeff said pizza delivery may be offered in the future. Outside the store, scattered antiques feature rusty old trucks, part of an old motorcycle, a bicycle on the roof and road signs. A pile of geodes for sale greets visitors in one part of the yard.
Patty, former manager of a pizza restaurant in Seymour, said more than 60 vendors are now open in the flea market portion.
About 12 acres are now in use, but the Tracys have many more plans for the property.
With help from a local rock and mineral club, panning for gold on the creek that cuts through the property is on the agenda, after small amounts of gold were found there. Jeff said the gold-panning demonstrations will be free, and participants can keep any gold they find, up to $1,000 worth.
This fall, the Tracys plan to have primitive campsites available, along with primitive cabins for rent.
Future planned phases include offering “tree houses” for rent, and eventually constructing two miniature golf courses. Both Jeff and Patty said the complex is being planned with an emphasis on family entertainment, something both feel Brown County needs more of.
Jeff said the tree houses will consist of pre-built cabins placed 10 to 12 feet off the ground next to trees on the property, and finished off with decks, a porch swing, hammock and fire pit. He says it will allow guests to “sleep in the leaves of Brown County,” rather than just view them.
He hopes to interest other local businesses in sponsoring holes on the miniature golf courses, and plans to replicate local landmarks as part of the overall structure of the courses.
Patty said another plan for Gnaw Bone Creek Trading Post is to create a small artist’s village with perhaps a dozen cabins serving as studios around the edge of the parking lot, which the artists could purchase or lease.
A small park area, with swings and slides to entertain children, is also envisioned, Patty said, along with carriage rides.
Gnaw Bone Creek Trading Post is one of many new businesses which have opened in the Gnaw Bone area in recent years.
Realtor Tom Vornholt of Carpenter Hills O’ Brown Realty, said he expects the Gnaw Bone area will continue to grow, though perhaps at a slower pace. One of the advantages that area has is an established sewer system, which saves the cost of building individual septic systems.
Vornholt, a member of the county’s Visitors and Convention Bureau’s marketing committee and past president of the Brown County Economic Development Commission, said he feels the growth is a result of a need that has been there for some time, but has not been feasible previously. He says part of the reason for the area’s growth is an active real estate market.
He also thinks economic activity will continue to expand between Nashville and Columbus, spurred in part by development Big Woods ‘ Hard Truth Hills on the east side of Nashville.