Filed in Book Club, Home Décor, Lifestyle — August 7, 2023

What to Expect When Visiting McKay’s Used Bookstore Nashville

McKay’s Used Bookstore Nashville needs to be on your list of places to visit if you are an avid reader, but if you are interested in used bookstores for the hope of finding a rare edition of Pride and Prejudice, I would recommend visiting shops elsewhere in town.  As an antique dealer, age is top of mind when I go second-hand shopping, even for books.  That being said, though, going to McKay’s Nashville has been on my to-do list for years and having only gone recently for the first time, I wish I had visited much sooner—large antique book selection or not.


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Bookshelves overlayed with a graphic that reads "What to Expect When Visiting McKay's Used Bookstore Nashville"


Know Before You Go to McKay’s Nashville

My first visit to McKay’s Used Bookstore Nashville was on a holiday weekend, and I went to hang with a friend.  I did not have a list of books I was hoping to find.  I just wanted to see what was available.  Below you will find my first impression of the store and some thoughts on planning your visit:


The Location of McKay’s Used Bookstore Nashville

The store is located at 636 Old Hickory Boulevard, Nashville, Tennessee.  It is farther from the city center than I expected (closer to the Bellevue neighborhood), but conveniently located just off of I-40.


McKay's Nashville Storefront


As I turned into the parking lot, I noticed that the store was slammed with customers.  Fortunately, their parking lot is large, so there was no issue finding a spot.  (It is large enough that if you are traveling through Nashville with a larger vehicle or truck and trailer, you should have plenty of room to park.)


Parking Lot of McKay's Used Bookstore Nashville


The Layout of McKay’s Used Bookstore Nashville

Once inside, the checkout stations are immediately in front of you.  If you are trying to sell items, you will go to the right of the checkout station.  If you are shopping, carts are immediately to your left, as well as a shelf for trending books, think Colleen Hoover.  These shelves thin out fast!  Behind them is the stairs access; go upstairs to find vinyl records, CDs, and comics.  Turn left just past these shelves to head to the book stacks.  Also, downstairs you will find instruments, toys, and some DVDs.


Bookshelves as seen from the second floor of McKay's Nashville


Aisle between bookshelves at McKay's


The Selection at McKay’s Used Bookstore Nashville

McKay’s Nashville has everything from used books to used records to used toys.  Even though McKay’s is far more than a bookstore, my focus was strictly on the books since I love to read but do not really consider music and movies “my things.”


My taste in reading ranges from romantic beach reads to Revolutionary Era history books to decorating books, and I have to say that McKay’s had plenty to choose from within my tastes and then some.


Historical Romance bookshelves at McKay's Used Bookstore Nashville


The Home Improvement bookshelves at McKay's


You can find books on the following topics and much more:


  • Home Improvement
  • Beauty & Fashion
  • Historical Romance
  • World History
  • Plant Care
  • Poetry
  • Crafts
  • Cooking
  • Architecture
  • Literature
  • Travel


Keep an eye out for the Aisle Guide to locate a topic of interest.  It is posted on the end of most of the bookshelves.


Aisle guide at McKay's Bookstore


I was hoping to find an antique book or two, but the selection was slim.  Overall, I would say you have a better chance of finding vintage books here over antique.  (Check out my post Should You Use Antiques When Decorating? if you want to learn the difference between antique and vintage.) Even still, most of what I was finding had been published more recently, but I figure it depends on the day too.


An antique copy of The Divine Comedy at McKay's


Stacks of Maya Angelou's I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings at McKay's Used Bookstore Nashville


A stack of books by the Bronte sisters in McKay's Nashville


The Prices at McKay’s Used Bookstore Nashville

In terms of prices, it felt like there was some fluctuations there, from some books being cheap at $0.75 to others being priced on-trend for the used book market.  It seems like supply and demand might play into pricing.

The cheapest book I bought was $3, and the most expensive book I bought was $12.


McKay’s Used Bookstore Nashville Shopping Tips

Beyond the basics, I thought I would share some of my thoughts and tips for shopping McKay’s Used Bookstore Nashville.


Shopping cart filled with books at McKay's Used Bookstore Nashville


Take a Quick Pass Through Fiction First

I would recommend doing a quick pass (at least through the fiction sections) without a cart first, especially if it is crowded.  The more popular stacks can get quite claustrophobic, and if you are trying to search and maneuver your cart around people, it can be quite overwhelming.  Once you are ready for the more subject specific sections, a cart is less burdensome.


Allot Enough Time for Your Visit

I spent three hours in the store on my first visit, and that was only looking at the books!  It was a very crowded holiday weekend, and I searched through about five sections very thoroughly with one being the largest selection in the book stacks.  When planning your first visit to McKay’s Used Bookstore Nashville, I would recommend you allot at least two hours.  Then, I would add or subtract from that amount of time based on the number of mediums you will be searching for (books, CDs, records, etc.) and the variation of interests within those mediums.


McKay's Nashville bookshelves from above


McKay's Used Bookstore Nashville bookshelves as seen from the second floor


Do Not Worry About the Tags

One of the concerns I had before getting my books home was the price tags being difficult to get off of the books.  Having removed overly sticky tags from many priceless antiques, I was worried the books, and paperbacks especially, might rip as the tags were pulled.  However, McKay’s Nashville already thought this problem through, and their tags remove easily, leaving no residue or destruction.


Price tag on the book Life Below Stairs from McKay's Nashville


Be Sure to Sniff-Test the Books

This last tip is suggested for book purchases at any used bookstore or antique store, not specifically for McKay’s Used Bookstore Nashville.  Because of my strong sense of smell, I sniff every book before I purchase it!  Books are the worst at holding in the smell of smoke.  I do not want to walk past my bookshelves, and it smell like I walked past a bonfire.  Plus, smoke is one smell I cannot manage to be around for long due to health reasons, so I make sure that scent is never brought into my house.


My McKay’s Used Bookstore Nashville Finds

My first visit to McKay’s Used Bookstore produced some great finds.  I bought eight books in total—three history books, two contemporary fiction books, two home décor books, and one book about flowers.


Antique French dresser topped with ironstone and books from McKay's Nashville


Ironstone and books from McKay's Used Bookstore Nashville atop an antique French dresser


Books from my first visit to McKay's Nashville


Two of the history books were authored by Frances and Joseph Gies—Marriage and the Family in the Middle Ages and Women in the Middle Ages.  The third history book is Life Below Stairs: True Lives of Edwardian Servants by Alison Maloney.


History books about women from McKay's Nashville


Trio of women's history books from McKay's Nashville


Both contemporary fiction books—Commonwealth and The Dutch House—were by Ann Patchett.


Pair of books by Ann Patchett


The home décor books I purchased were Mary Emmerling’s Beach Cottages and Simply Scandinavian.


Emmerling's Beach Cottages book


Simply Scandinavian home decor book


Of course, I was thrilled to find a Martha Stewart book, Martha’s Flowers, at a great price.


Martha's Flowers book by Martha Stewart


Displaying My Used Books

These books will be dispersed throughout my home.  I have books in almost every room of the house.  They add such a cozy, slow-down vibe that makes a house a home, in my opinion.


My first stack of books from McKay's Used Bookstore Nashville


The fiction ones will be added to a bookshelf in my bedroom that I call my “TBR (To Be Read) Shelf.”  The décor books will be put on a trunk in the family room until they have been read.  Eventually, they will be moved to my hallway built-in shelves, along with the history books that I will read and/or reference when the mood strikes me.  I am hoping to work on those hallway built-ins this fall, so stay tuned for that project.  In the meantime, check out what my book club has been reading and the décor books already in my collection.


Close-up of the books I bought at McKay's Nashville


What to Expect When Visiting McKay's Used Bookstore Nashville


I’d love know if you have ever visited McKay’s Used Bookstore Nashville.  If so, what were your thoughts on the store?  What books did you find?  If you are not local or have not traveled through Nashville, what used bookstores do you recommend in your area?

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