By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support local journalism.
Business Pulse - Main Street getting better all the time
Joe O'Neal airbnb.jpg
Pictured is the spacious living room overlooking Main Street of the new Airbnb available in downtown McMinnville.

When it comes to Beatles albums, I often fluctuate on where to rank “The White Album,” “Abbey Road” and “Let It Be.”

But when it comes to my favorite Beatles album, “Sgt. Pepper” has always remained atop my list. It’s a masterful compilation that includes the cheery number “Getting Better.”

When I think of Main Street McMinnville, it really is like that famous Beatles song. It’s getting better all the time.

There’s a new business coming to Main Street and it might just make us all “Twist and Shout.” It’s called The Hitch Outfitters and it’s relocating from Rock Island.

Ronnie Hitchcock is the business owner and he operates another location in Sparta. Chris and Kelly Snider have been operating the store in Rock Island and they’ve been busy getting the store on Main Street ready to open.

It’s located next to Collins River BBQ and it’s taking the remodeled storefronts owned by Joe O’Neal which were last occupied by Trendy Trunk and Ashley’s Attic. It will be about 5,000 square feet of store.

“Uptown is really picking up and this is where we feel we need to be,” said Chris. “We wanted to be right next to Collins River BBQ so we talked to Joe and were able to make it happen. We believe we’ll do much better here than we did in Rock Island. Not that Rock Island was bad, but we think this will be much better.”

After years of running in slow motion, downtown McMinnville is climbing to heights that haven’t been seen in decades. Stores are bustling with activity and there’s genuine momentum for supporting locally owned businesses. The addition of The Hitch will bring another unique shop to our downtown community.

Chris told me Thursday about some of the lines which will be carried. It includes Yeti coolers, cups and caps, Chaco and Teva footwear, and apparel from Life Is Good, Simply Southern and Volunteer Traditions.

The store will include dog toys, camping supplies, hammocks, and a general storewhichcarriesTennessee Best products. There will be glass-bottle drinks to capture a bit of nostalgia.

“We’re not used to having this type of room,” said Chris, “so we’re going to have a really wide selection. There are a lot of people who are excited about us getting here. We’re going to carry clothing and items for men, which is something you don’t see a lot downtown. Most of the stores here are geared toward women.”

Chris says they will explore getting a number of other product lines, but it often comes down to who has the rights to carry a certain product in this area so some rights may already be taken.

“Our plan is to open in February,” said Chris. “I don’t know if it will be the beginning, middle or end, but we want to open in February.”

Chris says one thing which will set The Hitch apart from some other retailers is its commitment to customer service. “You walk in these big box stores and the employees could care less if you buy something or not,” said Chris. “We appreciate our customers and we always thank them for their business.”

I’ll try to provide more information on The Hitch before opening day arrives.

Main Street Has Airbnb

Speaking of Joe O’Neal, in addition to renovating the two storefronts which will be The Hitch, he has also created the first-ever Airbnb on Main Street. It’s located above those businesses and is called “1886 Main Street Loft” for anyone who might like to look it up and reserve it.

“I just put it online for the first time on Wednesday,” said Joe. “It’s a two bedroom with a full bath and a half bath. It also has a full kitchen and a washer and dryer. It has everything you need like you were renting a house at the beach for a week.”

There was a push several years ago to return a hotel to downtown McMinnville, a great idea which has yet to materialize. While one Airbnb room is certainly no hotel, it’s neat to have this option available for people visiting our community.

“I think it’s a good addition for downtown,” said Joe. “I like the view overlooking Main Street. We came up here to watch the Christmas parade and it was a lot of fun.”

Now that Park Theater has once again cranked up its entertainment offerings, I can see people traveling here to see a show and then staying at Joe’s Airbnb. He says our area is already doing well for tourism with a number of out-of-town visitors eating at Collins River BBQ each and every weekend.

Before putting it online to rent, Joe admits he gave his Airbnb a try himself. “We stayed here to make sure we had all the kinks worked out,” said Joe.

If you have family visiting or just want to experience staying on Main Street, there’s a two-day minimum and a 30-day maximum stay.

Used car prices Are soaring

There’s been much talk about the runaway train we’re currently riding called inflation. I was reading a story on CNBC on Wednesday that said among all the items that are skyrocketing in price, used car prices have experienced the greatest increase nationally.

To get an idea of how this may be playing out locally, I paid a visit on Friday to Turner’s Automotive next to Hardee’s on Main Street. Business owners Charlie and Donna Turner know their stuff when it comes to selling used vehicles.

“We went to a sale two weeks ago in Murfreesboro that normally has 300 vehicles,” said Donna. “This sale only had 80 and it looked like an insurance sale, which is saying it was basically a bunch of vehicles that were someone else’s problem.”

Donna says if you’re in the market for a used vehicle, brace yourself to pay more.

“I had a lady call me the other day and she said she had $6,000 to buy a reliable car,” said Donna. “Well I can’t find a reliable car for $6,000. And I can’t find any trucks for the price range people are wanting to pay, which is usually $5,000 to $10,000.”

One of the main problems is new car dealerships formerly sold many of the trade-ins they receive to the used car dealers. That’s not happening anymore.

“The dealerships have such a low inventory they’re keeping all the trade-ins for themselves,” said Charlie. “I don’t see the used car shortage getting fixed until the new car dealership lots are full again. As long as the new car lots are

empty, you’re not going to be able to find anything.”

Inventory is so scare, cars are often being sold at auction for more than they’re worth. This is creating problems too.

“The Blue Book value and the loan value haven’t caught up to the new prices,” said Charlie. “So people are trying to get a loan for a $9,000 car that only has a Blue Book value of $7,000. The banks are saying no way, they won’t loan that much, but that’s what the car costs now.”

Donna says one of their busiest times of year is in February and March when people begin to receive their tax returns.

“We’re usually hopping when people get their taxes back but I don’t know if we’ll be able to have the inventory to keep up with demand,” said Donna.

Supply chain issues and chip shortages have undoubtedly made this a very expensive time to buy a vehicle, whether it’s new or used. In a matter of about 12 months, a used vehicle which used to cost around $5,000 is now commanding around $8,000. That’s a 60% increase if you don’t want to do the math at home.

Hometown Bar Coming to Sparta St.

For folks with long memories, there was a time when Gillentine’s Restaurant was located at 1107 Sparta Street in front of Scottish Inn.

Gillentine’s closed over 20 years ago and that spot has been unable to sustain a business since. It’s been a game room for kids, a night club for adults, 1107 Steakhouse, Pinwheel Restaurant, Tate’s Burgers, and of course it’s been a Mexican restaurant too.

To the best of my memory, the building has been vacant for five years.

Steve Hicks plans to bring stability to that location, along with a cool bar and grill. He’s been doing extensive work on the property and plans to open Hometown Bar and Grill in the coming weeks.

Steve is well known around these parts for his karaoke and his sound system. Steve says it’s all about having fun and Hometown Bar will have the food, drinks and atmosphere needed to have a good time. He plans to get his liquor license in the coming weeks so visitors can enjoy mixed drinks or take a shot.

One thing that’s interesting to note is Steve will be using the upstairs and downstairs. He says the upstairs portion will feature pool tables and downstairs will be for karaoke and a dance floor. He plans to have a tasty menu with a variety of offerings.

I was excited when I saw Hometown Bar appear on this month’s batch of business licenses and even more excited to check out the pictures Steve sent me of the remodeling work he’s done.

Sparta Street is one of the most heavily traveled roads in McMinnville so Steve has definitely found himself a quality spot. I’m convinced a business can thrive at that location so Hometown Bar may be just the thing to transform a long-vacant building into a vibrant business.

It’s my plan to provide more information on Hometown Bar when it’s ready to open.

That’s all folks

January is a great time to resolve to start a new business in 2022. When you make that decision, be sure to give me a call and I’ll report it in the paper. The number is 473-2191.