Some of us might remember the story of the Colorado baker who grabbed headlines when he refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple.
It was a case that made it all the way to the Supreme Court, which mostly upheld the cake baker’s rights to deny service to a gay couple based on his religious beliefs. I think it was the right decision because private business owners should be allowed to deny service to customers, based on whatever reasons they deem fit.
I mention this because Bri Crouch has opened a charming boutique at 119 West Main Street called The Crouch House. It’s located between Park Theater and Paula’s Dance Academy.
The cake baker story is applicable because Bri has already experienced her share of controversy during her one month in business. A proud Donald Trump supporter, Bri says she’s come under fire for her unwillingness to make T-shirts with a Democratic Party message.
“I tell people to leave their drama at the door because I can’t promise I’ll make everything,” said Bri. “I’m like the cake people.”
I’m not a social media guy, mainly because I get enough criticism in person and by phone. I figure there’s no need to subject myself to any more negativity by tuning in to the senseless diatribe conveyed every day on Facebook.
Bri said her unwillingness to print certain messages has created a nasty firestorm online, which is not hard to imagine. But she said outside of a few things, she’s willing to print almost anything you can create on a custom-made T-shirt.
“Custom orders are a big part of the business,” said Bri. “The competition is pretty fierce because there are several people who do this, but everyone has their own signature.”
Bri had been working out of her home and said it was a spontaneous decision to rent retail space and open a storefront on Main Street. She said it’s been a big transition.
“I’m not a public person and you have to be a public person up here,” said Bri, who was a hair dresser for 15 years before changing careers. “This was a hobby while I was cutting hair and it grew into this.”
Bri said her Cody McCarver Outlaw Gospel line has been popular. So has her President Trump line of T-shirts and hats.
The Crouch House is open Monday thru Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Stop by and check out the great merchandise she has to offer.
Three Star Mall is a place where I love to shop. I visit Bath & Body Works for all sorts of goodies for my Cupcake. I enjoy shopping at JC Penney for myself. And when I’m done, it doesn’t take much convincing to get me to eat at the famous J’s Restaurant.
Our mall is now under the new leadership of Sigourney Younglove, who took the reins as mall manager on March 18. If Sigourney is a familiar face that’s because she spent 4.5 years at the Chamber of Commerce promoting local businesses. Now she’ll be looking to promote businesses specific to the mall.
“I’m going to emphasize maintenance, marketing and entertainment because it’s important to pull people into the mall for special events,” said Sigourney.
She said she has a number of projects she’d like to develop, but it’s too early to release many specifics at this point. Ershig Properties manages Three Star Mall and Sigourney says she’s been doing training sessions at other malls to give her important job experience. She says there are more training sessions still to come and she should be at the mall full time after March 31.
Sigourney is a Tennessee native and has lived in Warren County since relocating from Nashville. She is a graduate of Volunteer State Community College in Gallatin with a major in English.
Her experience includes work at the Tennessee Department of Treasury and a long list of volunteer organizations. She resides in Rock Island with her husband and two children and has a passion for writing, art, graphic design, gardening, kayaking and hiking.
Sigourney said she plans to stay active on several Chamber of Commerce committees because of the organization’s focus on promoting business. She hasn’t met everyone at the mall yet but hopes to have a meeting with all the store managers in early April.
David Nelson, vice president with Ershig Properties, believes mall officials have found the right person for the job.
“Sigourney’s fresh energy and past experience as the program and events manager for the McMinnville-Warren County Chamber of Commerce will provide promotional, entertainment leasing, and management skills to strengthen Three Star Mall as a leading retail and community events center,” said Nelson.
To buy 218 acres
Members of the Industrial Development Board have really picked up the pace at they work to buy 218 acres of land near the Coffee County line for a new industrial park.
IDB director Don Alexander continues to work on securing written commitments for two easements to reach the property from Highway 55. The IDB doesn’t want to spend $981,000, or $4,500 an acre, without the options for easements in place.
Because the IDB has a one-year option on the property that expires in May, board members want to get a deal finalized by the end of April. The property is viewed as prized real estate that’s as close to Interstate 24 as we can get and still be in Warren County.
The IDB has called a special meeting in two weeks, to be held April 4, with the hope more details will be firmed up for the new industrial park at that time.
In other news, IDB members also discussed whether to continue their annual Industry Appreciation Day golf tournament held at the Country Club. The event costs an estimated $7,000 to $8,000 to hold and it was asked how many industry officials really attend.
IDB member Jeff Golden noted the last such golf tournament he attended was filled with government representatives, but not many industry representatives. IDB member Tommy Foster suggested getting a list of industry officials who really want to play golf and then go from there.
Alexander admitted golf is not as popular as it once was and said there might be a better way to thank industry leaders for their contributions other than a day of golf.
West Warren-Viola Utility District general manager Tim Pelham said the water plant has an average daily usage of 1.8 million gallons of water a day, with maximum daily use of about 2.3 million gallons a day.
Pelham provided this information Thursday during a presentation to the Industrial Development Board. The IDB has been asking representatives from area businesses to make presentations at its monthly meetings in an effort to get a better understanding of the Warren County economy.
“When I went to work there in 1984, we had 711 customers, the largest of which was Carrier,” said Tim. “Other than Carrier, we had a small utility district.”
Carrier has long since closed shop in Warren County, taking its 21 million gallons of water usage a month with it. But West Warren-Viola Utility District continues to serve huge manufacturers such as Yorozu and Bridgestone with their water needs.
“We now have nearly 7,000 taps and in the mid-5,000s in terms of billing customers,” said Tim.
The utility district has expanded its boundaries and now includes sections of Coffee, Grundy and Cannon counties. IDB member Tommy Foster asked Tim about the possibility of more expansion to the area between Centertown and Woodbury before you start heading down the mountain.
Tommy says this is a booming area because of its proximity to Murfreesboro. But he said some prime real estate there has to be serviced by well water because there’s no other option.
“There are homes in that area that are only listed for two or three days before they sell,” said Tommy. He noted Woodbury’s water utility doesn’t want to touch that area because it would entail going up the mountain.
“People are coming this way because they don’t want to mess with Nashville,” said Tommy.
If plans go through for the new 218-acre industrial park, West Warren-Viola would be responsible for providing water to that property. Tim said that wouldn’t be an issue with the utility already having a 12-inch water line that runs along Highway 55.
Chevys are here
The Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra have undergone complete redesigns for this model year. Eager to show off the fabulous new trucks, Champion Chevrolet held a product launch Wednesday complete with food and singing.
“Trucks are absolutely our best sellers,” said Champion Chevrolet owner Alex Nafe, who has owned our Chevy dealership for the past five months with his wife, Amanda. “These trucks are all new and have been completely redesigned. They have about 400 pounds shaved off from the old model and that’s done for better fuel economy."
Also gaining attention is the new six-function, multi-use tailgate that can serve as anything from a table to a step.
Alex noted now is the time to buy a new truck with more than $10,000 off the sticker price of some models. He said that’s a savings of more than 20 percent on some of the lower-priced trucks.
As for his first five months in McMinnville, Alex said his expectations have been exceeded.
“It’s going better than we expected and the community has really opened its arms to us,” said Alex. “I want to sell you every car you’re going to buy for the rest of your life, but before I can do that, I have to sell you the first one.”
Champion Chevrolet is located at 1600 Sparta Street across from Saint Thomas River Park Hospital.
That’s all folks
It’s a time of absolute madness in the college basketball world.
If you have the happiness of business news to report, give me a call at 473-2191.