The only thing that Cracker Barrel does better than biscuits: antiques. In its almost 50 years, the company has sourced more than 1 million of 'em, many of which are stored in an unassuming warehouse located at the company’s Lebanon, Tennessee headquarters.

Procurement for Cracker Barrel Old Country Store's 26,000-square-foot decor warehouse is overseen by decor manager Larry Singleton, whose family has been in charge of sourcing antiques for the restaurant since it first opened in 1969. "In the beginning, we were storing stuff we bought in my grandparents’ bedroom," says Larry. "It’s one of those things that became a vocation before I knew it. They got me before I knew I was got!"

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Fun fact: Every last one of the 650 stores has been decorated by a Singleton.

The company’s current haul of Americana—a collection that rivals that of the Smithsonian—has expanded beyond the Singleton residence. These days, it’s all bar-coded, cataloged, and organized at the warehouse, just waiting to be selected, shrink-wrapped, and shipped out to a country store near you.

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Brian Woodcock
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From coffee canisters to cookie bins, more than 5,000 food containers sit pretty (and gritty) in the Cracker Barrel warehouse. A few years ago, King Cole Potato Chips tins dominated the inventory. Singleton purchased hundreds of them from a dealer in Maine, where King Cole was founded. The Sultana Peanut Butter pail seen above is among Larry’s favorites. He only purchased a few though, because they’re fairly expensive.

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Brian Woodcock

"After 40 years of doing this, I’m sure I’ve been got," says Larry, but he prides himself on rarely falling for a fake—quite a feat when you consider, for example, that Cracker Barrel owns more than 85,000 signs (74,000 in stores and another 11,000 in the warehouse). Larry’s especially sweet on the Rodkey Flour and R-Pep signs seen above, both of which he bought by the hundreds on a shopping trip in Wadsworth, Ohio.

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Want to know more? Here’s how Cracker Barrel has perfected the art of the old country score.


From Antiques Bin to “The Barrel”

From shopping to shipping, the store installation process is a well-buttered machine.


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Brian Woodcock

1. The Picking

Larry buys thousands of items every year from dealers all across the country. The real jackpots though: liquidation sales. He purchased skates by the crateful from a shuttered chain of roller rinks.


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Brian Woodcock

2. The Processing

Upon arrival, items are bar-coded and inventoried. Multiples are tagged as one number—a lot of 10 Jack and Jill gelatin boxes is considered a single item. Everything is cleaned, sprayed with a clear coat, and displayed on shelving for designers to peruse.


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Brian Woodcock

3. The Production

Each store’s design scheme is laid out in a mock store located at the warehouse. To give each Cracker Barrel regional flair, subtle nods to the location are incorporated, usually signage, which is custom-framed on-site.


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Brian Woodcock

4. The Particulars

Items too small to hold their own on a shelf or wall are grouped in thematic vignettes, also produced in the on-site frame shop. A turn-of-the-century medicinal theme is pictured here.


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Courtesy of Cracker Barrel

5. The Paint

People said founder Danny Evins “bled brown.” Cracker Barrel Rural Brown by Sherwin-Williams, a coffee-colored shade, is used both inside and out at all Cracker Barrels.


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Brian Woodcock

6. The Packing

Final picks for each new location—roughly seven openings a year— are shrink-wrapped and sent to the store. The local team then works fast from photos to install the scheme. It all happens in just three days.


The Non-Negotiables

You’ll find these five oldies but goodies in every Cracker Barrel location. Consider it the original country sampler!


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Brian Woodcock
  1. Deer Head Traditionally positioned above dining room fireplaces, which are always burning when the temp dips below 50 degrees.
  2. Horseshoes Hung above all front door exteriors, bestowing good luck on every one who enters.
  3. Cookstove Used as display in the retail sections. Years ago, Larry bought these right off of folks’ front porches.
  4. Ox Yoke Introduced after the Singletons noticed them nailed above barn doors in the South. It’s hung alongside the horseshoe.
  5. Traffic Light Always placed above bathroom doors. Once abundant at flea markets, non-LED versions are now scarce.