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'Wall of Heroes' at Pigeon Forge shop features veterans

The Patriot Peddler has collected more than 2,000 pictures from its customers

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn — Three words create the common thread connecting every item inside the Patriot Peddler in Pigeon Forge. 

Made. In. America. 

"It was my dad's idea several years back. He thought that people would really embrace the American-made theme, and we toyed with it for several years and we decided just to go for it. And, the response has been amazing," said Becky Niswonger, the store's manager.  

Niswonger and her family opened the shop four years ago at the Island in Pigeon Forge.

They sell everything from board games to ornaments. The only commonality is where they're made. 

"We've had people come in and say, 'Hey, I work for that company' or 'I made those,'" Niswonger said.

The store's most valuable item though isn't for sale. 

Hundreds of photographs from floor to ceiling make up what Niswonger said is their Wall of Heroes. 

"It's so easy to forget, especially while you're on vacation. It's so easy to forget that there are families who are not together this weekend. They're not cooking out this weekend because one of their loved ones is serving or they're a Gold Star family. So, it's just an easy way to just stop and say 'Hey, we remember and we support you,'" Niswonger said.

The wall started out with a few pictures of family members and friends. Before long, customers sent in their own pictures until the wall extended to two walls of the store.  

Credit: WBIR
The Patriot Peddler is located at The Island in Pigeon Forge.

"People come in and find their pictures later. They love that connection," Niswonger said. 

It's that connection the family hopes customers feel when they walk in the door. 

"We just hope that they [customers] stop and think about what they're buying and who they're supporting when they make that purchase, but ultimately we hope that they just walk away and just feel grateful for the country they live in," Niswonger said.

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