Reason to Love Memphis No. 50: Summer Avenue

Posted by Holly Whitfield | November 9th 2011 6755 0

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
– 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
– 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.?


Author: Holly Whitfield

I write about what’s going on with Memphis music, food, arts, events, sports, people, and culture. Memphians love Elvis and barbeque with a passion that must be seen to be believed, but there is so much more to this place.

Show Comments


  1. Tod Underhill says:

    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

  2. Will Beaty says:

    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. 🙂 

  3. M.Spence says:

    Less traffic than Sam Cooper during rush hour—–don't tell anybody.

  4. Amanda says:

    Edo…best Japenese food in town, and cheap cheap cheap.

  5. ruby says:

    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

  6. Gurley says:

    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.

  7. Dave says:

    Isn't there another theater next to the MLGW office? I wonder what's showing…

  8. Teresa says:

    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).

  9. memphish says:

    totally miss the Pop Tunes 🙁
    wish they would've at least kept the sign

  10. Anna says:

    "Summer Ave. is my Poplar" – one of my favorite bumper stickers.

  11. Brittany says:

    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 🙂

  12. Chris Johansen says:

    We always said that if you couldn't find it on Summer Ave, you were probably better off without it.

  13. The only 24 hour AutoZone in the city!

  14. Monkeefeet says:

    It’s my main street. Grew up here. Never left. Bristol theater is no longer there. And now there are two McDonalds!

  15. Alfred Sumrall says:

    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

  16. Cris says:

    Leo's Thrift Store. I miss you Chuck!

  17. Isaac says:

    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.

  18. Lauren says:

    Summer ave. on Sat night around 9-10 @ the 24hr Auto Zone. entertainment for a few hours

  19. […] 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 […]

  20. Debby says:

    Moved to East Memphis last summer. I love Summer Ave. Did I mention that I LOVE Summer Ave. Too many treasures to list.

  21. Hannah says:

    Ever notice Paris Adult movie place is directly across from a child care center?

  22. Scott says:

    Don't forget that you can buy a parrot.

  23. Fred P says:

    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 !

  24. Roxanne says:

    You can buy a steak, tater, catfish at Charlie's. Their address is Summer Ave. Also there is a Mediterranean market 2 doors down.

  25. Brenda says:

    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.

  26. Bob taylor says:

    I grew up in Highland Heightsin the 50sto70s.I have a lot of fond memories of those times.

  27. eugene weaver says:

    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

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