Merry Christmas Southern Standard readers! Hope you're all staying as warm as you can and having a great Christmas day.
This week in Business Pulse it's a week of change as we look at some goings and some comings.
Goodbye Mr. Gary
It would be hard to guess just by looking at him, but Gary Manchester has been in business as a hair stylist for 45 years. Mr. Gary, as he's been known by many ever since a young Spencer Lively dubbed him as such, began his career as a 19-year-old shortly after graduating from Warren County Senior High School in 1976. Gary attended cosmetology school in McMinnville in the back of the building that still stands across the street from the McMinnville Fire Department, got licensed and started a lengthy and successful career. "I've been very blessed to be able to do this for 45 years," Gary said.
The overwhelming majority of Gary's professional career has been spent in Warren County. "I did some cutting in Nashville for the Tennessee Repertory Theater but otherwise, I been always based here with different salons. I've had three different locations under my own name. That's been over maybe the last 25 years," Gary said. His final location was at 119 W. Main St., Ste. 6. where he spent his last day at work last Tuesday after 8 years in that space.
"I like working alone. My B.S. is enough for everybody," Gary joked. "And the clients appreciate that. So I tried to put myself in situations so I wouldn't be dependent on anybody else."
Gary's effervescent personality and charm haven't dimmed one bit over his near-half-century in the profession and that's a big part of his staying power and why it will be so hard for many of his longtime clients to see him go.
When asked for his favorite memories over his lengthy career, he responded, "Laughter. My whole thing is it's more than just a haircut. Leave your troubles at the front door. Pick them up on your way out. Just escape when you're here. Nobody gets pampered enough. You've got to do something to get rid of the stress. I try to get people up if they're not up and just make them laugh. Hopefully give them a good cut and color and some laughs. If you can get people to laugh, it's just a great release. It's all about making them feel better about themselves. It's the whole psychiatrist thing. This is a neutral area with no judgment where you can just vent it out."
Perhaps the biggest thing Gary will miss in retirement is that interaction with clients who often become more like friends. "I've had a good bunch of clients, 99.5 percent of my clients, I really like. People always ask who the other .5 percent are and I always just say, 'Who do you think it is?'" Gary quipped.
I asked Gary about his plans for retirement and he said, "I'm wide open. I'm pretty active and pretty hyper. My husband, Steve, and I are working on year 27 together. We're just trying to kick it in and appreciate this age. We all could be gone tomorrow but the odds are in my favor. It's happened fast, like all old people say. I'll be 65 in April. I'm in my older, wiser phase, just making new mistakes. I'll be five years sober on Christmas."
Gary's retirement figures to be anything but boring as he and Steve have multiple projects. As he met me for his interview, he said his blind cow had escaped and he had just spent the morning rounding it up.
"I want to thank my husband, Steve for putting up with me. Without him, I couldn't have done this," Gary said. "My grandson, Atticus, turns 11 this October and lives in Knoxville. Hopefully I'll be able to visit him a little more while he still wants to be around me. Thanks to all my customers for putting up with me, as well. If I don't scare them off the first time, the second time's not too bad. They're the reason I lasted this long."
I wish Gary a great retirement and have no doubt he'll infuse a little extra fun into whatever he chooses to do.
Housing Authority gets new leadership
Patricia Basham is one of a select group in Warren County who can boast of a longer work tenure than Gary Manchester. Patricia is handing off the title of executive director of McMinnville Housing Authority on Jan. 1 after nearly 60 years of working with the organization.
"Pamela G. Vaughn has been selected by our board as new executive director. She is currently our assistant executive director and accountant/CPA. She's been here over 30 years and is just great," Patricia said.
After nearly six decades of service, Patricia still isn't completely breaking ties with the housing authority. "I'm going to continue doing some special projects such as looking for grants," Patricia said.
"I started working here in 1963 for $1 an hour. I was in high school and took a 'temporary' part-time job. I had a full scholarship to Tennessee Tech and I never went," Patricia said. The "temporary" job turned into a 60-year career that Patricia is proud of, with good reason.
"We help a lot of people. I truly believe eliminating new construction of public housing and multi-family housing, 98 percent of it has been eliminated in the past 25 years, and that's the reason there are so many homeless," Patricia stated. "If there was more affordable housing, there are a lot of people who wouldn't be homeless."
Patricia summed up the mission of McMinnville Housing Authority this way, "We provide safe, sanitary and affordable housing for low-income residents of Warren County. We are motivated to help our young people to prepare themselves to become better citizens."
To that end, the housing authority doesn't stop at just providing homes but also gets involved with community events, such as the recent Hark at the Park show. "Our kids, our little ballerinas, performed. The things Lisa Harvey does in her work with these kids has made a world of difference," Patricia said. "When the schools were shut down for COVID, our centers were lifesavers for people. Providing people with a warm house in the winter and a cool house in the summer that they can afford is a really good and productive job."
It's tough to summarize a 60-year career in a couple sentences, but when asked to try, Patricia said, "It really has been wonderful, everybody I've worked with, the housing authority board, the staff, it's really been wonderful and such a blessing."
In early October, the Subway restaurant at 612 N. Chancery St. closed with plans to deposit itself in the former location of Regions Bank at 1200 Smithville Hwy. within two weeks. Well, it took a little more than two weeks, but I'm happy to say Subway is now open.
The bright open sign caught my attention as I was driving by last Sunday night and caused me to turn around and check it out. I was told that the restaurant opened for business last Saturday, Dec. 18. It took a little longer than expected but some things are worth waiting for. As soon as you step in the door, you notice all remnants of the bank are gone as the distinctive smell of Subway has already taken up residence. I happily withdrew a foot-long sub and returned to my home satisfied in the knowledge we once again live in a two-Subway county.
Mexican Restaurant coming
The most recent Industrial Development Board meeting was attended by David Hunt, who provided a tasty bit of business news. David owns the relatively new Hampton Inn across the street from the hospital and also owns the strip of retail spaces in front of the hotel. He reported the Hampton Inn is exceeding expectations. David stated that the local Hampton Inn is, per room, the best performer in his seven-hotel portfolio. The development of the retail section, however, was derailed by COVID. Happily, now that things on that front have settled down a bit, David is optimistic there will soon be life brought to that space.
It was speculated in the pages of Business Pulse about two years ago that a Mexican restaurant was going to take up residence in front of the hotel and now, David is confirming that. David is selling the building to a friend who owns several Las Trojas Cantina restaurants in West Tennessee and has plans to locate one in McMinnville.
David said "I know you have a lot of Mexican restaurants in town, but I can assure you that you don't have anything of this quality. You don't have anybody making steaks like he does or cooking Idaho potatoes like he does. I promise you, you don't. He's very excited about coming here. He and his daughter are buying the building. I'm going to do the physical build-out and then turn the building over to him for his restaurant. I also have to buy the lot next door from Mr. Hale to give him the additional parking he needs and we are also in the process of recruiting a really nice box store to go in there."
According to David the restaurant will be a little less than 10,000 sq. feet, about half of the center. David believes the success of the restaurant will quickly attract other tenants, and even mentioned Dunkin' Donuts as a potential target.
David anticipates an opening date in early June for the restaurant.
Until next time,
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Once again, merry Christmas! Thanks for spending part of your holiday reading the Standard. Send business tips to email@example.com or call (931) 473-2191.