Monday, January 12, 2009


“When Pigs Fly” has been described as a whimsical step back in time, featuring the ridiculous to the sublime. That’s pretty fancy talk for what is actually an old-fashioned bargain store surrounded by wonderful antique shops, a truly inviting bookstore, a unique coffeehouse, and a favorite art gallery.

“When Pigs Fly” came to life in January 2006. Owner Larry Gatewood enjoyed a 20 year career as a Jackson Police Detective and then was employed in a business that took him all over the country, sometimes for days at a time, and sometimes for months at a time. When he became a grandfather for the first time in May 2005 - he knew he had to be home to spend time with the best grandbaby ever born. He weighed his options – and decided to fulfill a lifelong dream. With his love of people – and love of vintage collectibles and antiques, the answer was obvious. Larry announced to friends and family his plans of opening a store full of memories – and was greeted with “Yeah – right. When Pigs fly.” So.. you guessed it. That is how his business was born and how it got its name.


You might think because “When Pigs Fly” is a store – what happens there is simple – people come in – look around – find something they like – buy it – and go on their way. Sometimes that does happen, but, things are not always so cut and dried at “When Pigs Fly.”

When you visit the store, one of the first things you might notice is the sitting area at the front. Shortly after the store opened, three years ago, Larry was called out on one final job that took him out of town for 3 months. So, Fran (Larry’s wife) and their good friend Tommy were the “When Pigs Fly” staff. During that time – they discovered the magic of Olde Towne Clinton. Friends were made, and some customers became regular visitors. A “living room” of sorts became a necessity.

One gentleman, around 80 years old, travels to Clinton about once a week to spend a couple of hours visiting. He says he always “brings customers” – and it seems he really does!

One local artist, Jeanette Jarmon, comes in for a “mental health” break. Larry told her “if you come to a store called “When Pigs Fly” for therapy – your problems are deeper than we thought!” They had never thought of the store as a therapy center, but if it works – why not go with it!

For a while at “When Pigs Fly” one of the “regulars” was a for-real retired butler! What an interesting man, from an interesting family. His father was close friends with General Jimmy Doolittle AND Walter Anderson! It was a real treat when he came to visit. Though he now lives in another town, he still calls “When Pigs Fly” often. He enriched the lives of the Olde Towne merchants and friends with his friendship and his stories.

Recently, Fran sold some items on EBay, including a Zippo lighter. The purchaser of the lighter, a retired gentleman from Bolton, picked it up at “When Pigs Fly” rather than have it mailed. He was amazed at all the “goings-on” in Olde Towne. Now he comes for a visit at least once – and sometimes twice a week. Larry nicknamed him “Zippo” because of his interest in the lighters and his vast knowledge of them.

One of the biggest treats is meeting people from all across the country – and even from some foreign countries. Larry and Fran love it when out-of-towners make a special point to come back to see them, which happens frequently. Larry has a goal of having a “When Pigs Fly” shirt in every state!

Sadly – their friend Tommy became ill the summer of their first year – and passed away the second summer. His influence on Olde Towne did not go unnoticed – as is evidenced by the park bench donated by friends and family in his memory – and the brick paver donated by the merchants of Olde Towne. You won’t see these kinds of friendship and relationships formed by shopping at the mall!

Larry loves to say “When Pigs Fly” is a memory store – and he is right. But – it is also a place to come unwind, have a soft drink and some “Nabs” – and just enjoy the ambience of Olde Towne Clinton.