Reason to Love Memphis No. 50: Summer Avenue

Reason to Love Memphis No. 50: Summer Avenue

I could wax poetic about how Summer Ave. is one of those great American streets, how it transcends race and culture and class and (as large portions of the street seem to be stuck in roughly 1970) time.

Or, I could blather endlessly about how there are few things more Memphis than the 6 mile stretch of Summer Ave., with its shopping opportunities, various services and multi-ethnic food bonanza.

I could do that. And maybe I should. But I'm not going to. 

Pancake Shop, Summer Ave., Memphis, Tenn.

Instead, I'm going to prove what a cultural masterpiece the street is with a list of some (but definitely not all) of the myriad things you can buy on Summer Ave:

- cake decorating supplies
- paletas
- scooters
- liquor
- tattoos
- video games
- vintage bicycles
- tacos out of a truck
- flags, all kinds
- biscuits
- snow cones and peanuts
- windows (and window tint)
- wholesale imports (again, all kinds)
- custom-made panic rooms
- pancakes (24 hours a day)
- meat
- used cars
- drag queen shoes
- guns and ammo
- all manner of accessories
- psychic readings
- karate supplies
- a bowling alley (no, really - there's one for sale)
- western wear
- baklava
- security guard uniforms
- trophies
- a Catholic education
- warehouse space
- vintage clothing
- a dress for your quinceanera
- large quantities of catfish
- groceries, all kinds
- nostalgia (or whatever it is that Nostalgia World sells)
- wigs

Skateland, Old Summer Ave., Memphis, Tenn.

And if that's not enough, on Summer Ave., you can also:

- settle up with MLGW
- park your mobile home
- play mini golf and laser tag
- see a drive-in movie
- attend school
- drink at a bar (hilariously) named Opinions
- learn Spanish
- do your laundry
- go to a discotheque
- pawn your valuables
- find religion

Why do you love Summer Ave.?


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Tod Underhill
I've always loved the cool, retro, Leahy Trailer Park. Although it's seen better days, passing by there still seems to transport my imagination to some other time and place. AND it has a very cool history. James Jones' novel "From Here to Eternity" was at least partially written there! Thanks for the post, it's set my mind wandering. --Tod
November 9, 2011 2:12pm
Will Beaty
I can't argue with this brilliant post, but you seem to have missed the ever important Paris Adult Entertainment Center.  Based simply on my own parents' refusal to leave their home off of Summer Ave in Binghampton, I'm going to have to say that Summer is stuck in 1979. :) 
November 9, 2011 2:16pm
Less traffic than Sam Cooper during rush hour-----don't tell anybody.
November 9, 2011 2:25pm
Amanda Japenese food in town, and cheap cheap cheap.
November 9, 2011 2:41pm
i love summer ave because you can get virtually anything....used. it is amazing in it's variety of used things for sale. i love that it has not changed in the 23 years i have lived here. I do miss BoJo's
November 9, 2011 2:42pm
Nostalgia world sells old records, baseball cards, magazines, posters, 8 tracks, various "vintage" electronics(I saw at least two "Selectavision" players in there) and a great many other treats from our past. Well, thats what they had 15 years ago when I was las in there.  
November 9, 2011 2:48pm
Isn't there another theater next to the MLGW office? I wonder what's showing...
November 9, 2011 2:56pm
You forgot BBQ. Summer has 2 Tops BBQ shops and a Central BBQ. They also have 3 hardware stores (not counting Lowes which faces Perkins).
November 9, 2011 3:24pm
totally miss the Pop Tunes :(   wish they would've at least kept the sign
November 9, 2011 3:44pm
"Summer Ave. is my Poplar" - one of my favorite bumper stickers.
November 9, 2011 5:36pm
November 9, 2011 11:50pm
I love Summer Avenue because I grew up there. My childhood home is right across the street from one of my favorite BBQ places, Tops, at Summer and Western. There's also a liquor store and convenience store on the corner (used to be Won's Market [sp?]... fond memories of that place!) I also love the cantaloupe drink at La Guadalupana, Ryu and Pancho's (if it still exists). Love this post, Summer Ave. rocks :)
November 10, 2011 10:31am
Chris Johansen
We always said that if you couldn't find it on Summer Ave, you were probably better off without it.
November 10, 2011 10:36am
Shannon Little
The only 24 hour AutoZone in the city!
November 10, 2011 5:39pm
It's my main street. Grew up here. Never left. Bristol theater is no longer there. And now there are two McDonalds!
November 11, 2011 7:58am
Alfred Sumrall
Nostalgia World is great.  I could literally spend a week and every cent to my name in there.  Gaslight Liquors is also, in my opinion, the best liquor store in the city.  Nice people, great selection of everything
November 12, 2011 9:52am
Leo's Thrift Store. I miss you Chuck!
November 13, 2011 12:24pm
How could you forget antiques/ junk?  I know Bojos is gone, but ther's still Antique Wherehouse, Chipendales, the antique auction place, that little shop that's so piled high that you can barely walk through it and probably several others that I can't think of at the moment.
January 31, 2012 2:38pm
Summer ave. on Sat night around 9-10 @ the 24hr Auto Zone. entertainment for a few hours
July 20, 2012 3:41pm
{bedside table…
[...] bought this little table several months ago at a thrift store on Summer Avenue (where all the cool kids hang) & put it in our room by my side of the bed.  I just needed a [...]
July 21, 2012 11:38am
Moved to East Memphis last summer. I love Summer Ave. Did I mention that I LOVE Summer Ave. Too many treasures to list.
June 27, 2013 12:44am
Ever notice Paris Adult movie place is directly across from a child care center?
June 29, 2013 11:30am
Don't forget that you can buy a parrot.
February 3, 2014 10:07am
Fred P
I grew up on Baltic St at the 3000 block of Summer.  The Bristol theatre is gone, but the Summer Ave Drive in is still there.  Before the Paris Adult Theatre is was Luciane Bowling Lanes and the Luciane Theater.  And those Topps Bar-B-Ques are still as good today as they were in 1960 'cept they only cost 25 cents back then.  Across the street was the Krystal Drive In (now gone) had 10 cent hamburgers..  LOVE YOU MEMPHIS !
April 4, 2014 12:38am
You can buy a steak, tater, catfish at Charlie's. Their address is Summer Ave. Also there is a Mediterranean market 2 doors down.
April 8, 2014 3:57pm
Loved the Bread Bakery (Maybe Hart's) at Summer and Mendelhall. You could smell it as you drove down Summer and we would stop and get a stick of butter, pay a quarter at the window and get a hot loaf and sit in the car and tear pieces off.
April 9, 2014 7:00pm
Bob taylor
I grew up in Highland Heightsin the 50sto70s.I have a lot of fond memories of those times.
August 20, 2014 11:35am
eugene weaver
Was raised off Summer@waring Been Out West Since 2006. After Seeing This I Know Im Coming Home The Music BBQ entire Seen See Yall In June! Geno
March 22, 2015 10:26am
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