I find myself drawn to the Rock Island business community because it’s such a charming area. I root for the businesses there to do well.
It’s kind of like Main Street McMinnville, which has a special place in my heart when it comes to commercial districts. I like to see our downtown businesses thrive.
I guess I could say the same thing about businesses at Three Star Mall. I’ve always enjoyed our mall and hope the stores there enjoy success.
Come to think of it, I pull for businesses in every corner of the county. Maybe I should rename this column Business Cheerleader because I’m a rah-rah kind of guy.
The Rock Island business community is organizing a fall festival set for Saturday, Oct. 9 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. There will be hayrides, pumpkins, live music, and food – pretty much everything you need to make a fall festival work.
“We want to showcase our Rock Island merchants and our business community with this fall festival,” said Beth Campbell who co-chairs the fall festival committee. “We have a lot going on here that many people don’t realize. There are visitors who come from faraway places to shop with us.”
One spot that’s more popular than Santa Claus, if it’s possible to be more popular than Santa, is the Rock Island Ice Cream Trolley. People line up to buy ice cream every day that it’s open.
Rock Island Market continues to operate like a rock star right next to the iconic Rock Island arch. It hasn’t missed a beat under new ownership after Bino Bouldin decided to sell it.
All Rock Island stores will be open and participating in the fall festival with goodies and some giveaways. This includes stores all the way from Rustic Touch all the way down to Lazy Daisy.
Rock Island Presbyterian Church will be one focal point of activity. A Celtic band will perform three, one-hour sets in the afternoon. There will be a bonfire on the church grounds along with S’mores that can be placed over the open flame.
“I’m excited to think this fall festival may bring a lot of visitors to Rock Island,” said Freda Scott, owner and operator of Rustic Touch, a store with beautiful vintage items. “People come by the carloads to the ice cream trolley and it seems like new people are discovering Rock Island every day. I’ve been here for 41 years and it’s busier than ever.”
Activity has really exploded around the state park, which attracted around 800,000 visitors last year, according to park ranger Damon Graham. One thing the area could use, at least in my estimation, is more restaurants. The need was especially glaring this summer with the restaurant at Cotten’s Marina not opening.
To add to the fall festival excitement, Graham is going to have a booth next to the railroad tracks that features animals, including an owl.
Don Griffin at Griffin Antiques says the fall festival will be a great opportunity for Warren County residents to explore the wonders of Rock Island. He says he was glancing over names in his guestbook recently and counted 290 signatures. Of all those people, he said only 139 were from Tennessee and everyone else was from out of state.
“I had a really busy May, June and July,” said Don. “It started to get slower in August. I’m not sure if it’s because COVID started coming back or what.”
Visitors are invited to bring a blanket or a lawn chair and prepare for a relaxing day of fall fun. It will be a chance to see Rock Island Emporium, the community’s newest store operated by Jan Lowe.
Beth Campbell has a booth at Rock Island Emporium and says she does well with her Frontier Soup brand, which is an all-natural, gourmet soup.
Beth said a few vendor spaces remain available for anyone who would like to sell food or their handmade wares on Oct. 9. She said she would like to have some nice craft vendors, not yard sale items.
Anyone interested in selling food or crafts can call (615) 308-3158.
Dollar General 13
Moving right along
Progress is moving right along for what will be the 13th Dollar General store in Warren County. It’s located on Smithville Highway not far from Delores Market.
When I stopped by the store on Friday, I ran into an interesting guy. It was Bob Kinsley from the Knoxville area.
If you’ve ever walked into a new Dollar General – and who hasn’t at this point? – your entry has likely been assisted by Bob. It’s his job to go around and install the automatic front doors at all the Dollar General stores going up.
“We probably do about two Dollar Generals a week,” said Bob. “It keeps us busy for sure.”
In addition to Tennessee, Bob does work in Kentucky, Georgia and Virginia. His company is named Assa Abloy and it’s currently helping with the renovation of Neyland Stadium, home of the Tennessee Vols.
Outside of Dollar General stores, Bob says Mapco is a main customer for Assa Abloy. He says the automatic doors, which are triggered by a motion sensor when a customer approaches, are highly reliable and regularly last for 20 years without problems, provided routine maintenance is performed.
He says it typically takes 8 to 10 hours to get the doors up and opening properly and then he’s off to another job. Bob says he finds the work satisfying.
“I live in the New Market area, which is a small town about 15 minutes from Knoxville, and we got a new Dollar General about two years ago,” said Bob. “I installed the doors on that store and it’s a store I go in all the time since it’s close to my house. It gives me a sense of satisfaction to know that I did that and the doors are working right. We stand behind everything we install. I wouldn’t work for a company that didn’t.”
Bob provided his thoughts on Dollar General, which may one day battle Amazon for control of the world.
“Dollar General has a great business model,” said Bob. “They are everywhere so they are so convenient. You can get in and out faster than you can Walmart, Target or a bigger store like that. And they have real competitive prices.”
Everyone I talked to at the new Dollar General on Friday was a contract worker and not an employee of the company so an opening date remains uncertain. However, at this point, I consider myself an expert in gauging the progress of Dollar General stores.
My best estimate is the store will begin to be stocked in the next 2-3 weeks and it will be open for business in the next month.
Old Rosemary's Cafe
has new owner
When I was taking my tour of Rock Island, it was mentioned to me that longtime Rock Island resident Todd Robinson has purchased the old Rosemary’s Café building which is right next to the Rock Island arch.
If you don’t remember Rosemary’s Café, that’s completely understandably. The building is best known as being the old Rosemary’s Café because you have to really put on your thinking cap to remember the last time a business operated there.
The building with the unique stone façade is rich with history since it was built in the late 1930s or early 1940s. It’s been a country store, a restaurant, a bus stop, and a gas station over the years.
Todd and his wife Sandra are the new owners. They’ve been Rock Island residents for 20 years and have kept their eye on the building for years hoping it would come up for sale. It finally did and they pounced.
Todd is an architect who has designed all types of buildings. What’s known as The Bat Building in downtown Nashville is one of his company’s most high-profile projects. Considering the work Todd has done designing commercial buildings and hospitals, renovating a small building in Rock Island should be a snap.
‘We’re not exactly sure what the end use will be right now,” said Todd, “but the focal point is going to be on preserving the building’s history. We’ve tossed around a lot of ideas of what will work well there and one of the main things is we want to do something to add to the community. We don’t want to compete with other businesses to the point where we hurt them. We want to do something which adds to Rock Island.”
One thing which I think would work well is an upscale breakfast restaurant. Rock Island thrives as a tourist community and that is especially true over the past three or four years.
A nice place to eat breakfast on the weekends would be a huge asset with all the out-of-towners who converge on the area. Since the building is small and won’t be able to accommodate crowds, make it a high-dollar establishment where breakfasts sell for $14.99. It would be great if breakfast cocktails like mimosas could be served, but I believe the building is too close to a church for that to happen.
It was about a month ago when the Southern Standard earned a dozen awards for our editorial content, which is our news stories and photos.
On Thursday, we brought home a number of advertising awards – including three first-place finishes. One of those first-place awards was for our website, www.southernstandard.com, which is a great place to catch all your local news from the convenience of your cellphone, tablet, or home computer.
“Advertising awards are especially gratifying because we want our customers to be satisfied with the ads that appear in our newspaper,” said Standard publisher Patricia Zechman. “We want the ads to look nice, be informative, and be a benefit to their business. When you bring home first-place advertising awards it gives credibility to the fact we’re doing just that. We appreciate all our customers who advertise in our newspaper and on our website. We want to do the best job for them as possible.”
Ashley’s Attic has relocated and is settled into its new spot at 301 South High Street just in time for Christmas, Elf on the Shelf, and all your holiday shopping needs.
“I don’t think we’ll be moving again this year,” joked Ashley Wright, who operates the store with her parents, Garry and Helen Gillentine. “We’re very pleased with our new location. It has more space, which is something we badly needed, and it has much better parking. There are people who don’t like the parallel parking that’s downtown.”
Believe it or not, Christmas is just around the corner and Ashley’s Attic offers layaway for your financial convenience. Ashley’s Attic is also McMinnville’s official Elf on the Shelf headquarters.
“Our elves should be arriving from the North Pole any day now,” said Helen.
The new location on South High isn’t a traditional retail spot, but it’s worked out well in the two months Ashley’s Attic has been there.
“Our customers have followed us and we really like this area,” said Ashley. “It’s just quiet enough and just busy enough. It’s a great combination.”
With the move, Ashley’s Attic has expanded its baby section and the store also has a wide selection of what’s known as teen fidget toys, which are neat items that provide a pleasant diversion mainly for kids, and some adults like Garry.
Ashley’s Attic is packed with toys and ready to meet your shopping needs. There’s free gift wrapping, curbside service, and free delivery in town. Regular hours are Monday thru Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. After-hour appointments can also be made.
Call or text (931) 607-6599 to make an after-hours appointment.
Plans to reopen
Westwood Market on Morrison Street has been closed for a couple weeks, but the plan is not to keep the market shuttered. According to the owner, the market is in a regrouping phase and the hope is to reopen in the near future.
“We’re like everyone else and having trouble with employees,” said Peter Patel, who co-owns the store. Peter may be best known as the owner of J&K Travel Center just off the interstate at Exit 111 in Manchester.
“We’re looking for somebody to run it and we’re looking at a couple people,” said Peter. “We want to reopen soon.”
The store has certainly experienced growing pains since it reopened in December. Growing pains may not be the best way to phrase it. Lack of customers may be more accurate.
From what I can tell, people have been avoiding the market like a yellow jacket nest. It’s in a prime location on a heavily traveled road with no other convenience store within a mile, but it always seemed to be empty. I live in that part of town so I drive by frequently and I would hardly ever see cars parked outside.
Perhaps new employees to run the store will be the magic wand that’s needed.
That’s all folks
I’ve said all I can say about local business news for one day. Feel free to email me your business news at email@example.com.