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Business Pulse - New business gets off and running
Mad Cow people.jpg
Mad Cow Running Company opens Tuesday at 10 a.m. with owners, from left, Colleen Lawrence, Monica Moore and Joel Lawrence. The business is filled with shoes and outdoor accessories.

As a regular runner for the past 30 years, I know how most people feel about the activity. I’ve heard it said many times, “The only way you’ll ever catch me running is if somebody really big is chasing me.”

I don’t hope anyone ever gets chased by a really big guy, but I would like to see more people getting active outdoors, whether it’s walking, running, or biking.

A new business is opening Tuesday in McMinnville with exactly that goal in mind. Mad Cow Running Company wants to get people mooving and it offers a store full of shoes and accessories to help accomplish that goal.

“This is my passion and a dream of mine,” said Monica Moore, who is opening the business with partners Joel and Colleen Lawrence. “We want to get people outside to play.” 

One neat aspect of the business it its Aetrex Albert 1 foot scanner. When you stand on the scanner it analyzes your feet and determines the pressure points. It’s a total foot diagnostic test. After getting the results, Mad Cow has all types of shoe inserts available to make the needed compensations.

The shoe inventory is extensive and includes name brands like Brooks, Saucony, Altra, Mizuno, Salomon, On, and Keen. There are running shoes, hiking boots and active-wear sandals like Chacos.

Accessories include socks, shirts, hats, hydration vests, walking sticks and more. There will also be bike rentals available. Mad Cow is starting with a fleet of five to determine interest.

Monica has an active streak of running every single day since January of 2020. Mad Cow customers don’t have to be as enthusiastic as Monica because the business will cater to people of all different abilities and fitness levels.

“If you can walk half a mile, we want you to walk half a mile,” said Monica. “If you can run six or seven miles, we want you to do that. We’ll have four walking groups and one running group available and after we’re done we want to hang out and socialize.”

Monica said the running group will meet Tuesday nights at 6 p.m. at Collins River BBQ on Main Street and run for about an hour. Afterwards, anyone interested can go upstairs at Collins River to enjoy a meal.

The walking group will meet Tuesday mornings at 5:30 a.m. at Depot Bottom Country Store. After the walk, group members can enjoy breakfast together at the restaurant.

The walking group will also meet Wednesday and Thursday mornings at 5:30 a.m. at the Mad Cow store on the corner of N. Chancery Street and Locust Street. On Friday morning, the group will meet at 8 a.m. at Viola’s Pizza Company.

From my years of running, I can say it’s a great way to relieve stress and clear my head while away from a cellphone and other devices which always seem to command my attention. Monica has similar thoughts.

“It’s an emotional release for me,” she said. “I’d get home from school and go for a run. It has tremendous health benefits. It helps keep weight off and it keeps your heart ticking strong. It’s my passion.”

Monica has retired from teaching school and will be operating Mad Cow full time. Her partners, Colleen and Joel Lawrence, are new to the business world as well.

“We’re all first-time business owners,” said Collen, “but we all want to endear ourselves to the community and be a part of the community.”

The phone number is 507-COWS. Business hours will be Monday thru Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Song’s Herbal

Ready to heal

Today’s column caters right to my wheelhouse with the opening of a new running store and the opening of Song’s Herbal at Plaza Shopping Center.

The husband and wife team of Rick and Song Pharr are the business owners.

“We specialize in natural products that are free from chemicals,” said Rick. “The herbals can have a pharmaceutical-type effect but the herbs are natural from the earth so they’re much better for you.”

Rick has a degree as a master herbalist and has all types of vitamin and herbal supplements available to help with any kind of problem. This can include sleeping woes, digestion problems, and some herbs can even help alleviate chronic pain.

It’s a better path, Rick notes, than taking heavy-duty medication that can be filled with nasty side effects. Then you have to take other medicine to deal with the side effects.

Rick said a popular question he receives from customers is what can they take to get more energy? He says he doesn’t want to elude the question, but the answer is there’s no one-size-fits-all solution.

He said his first step is to determine the reason behind the lack of energy and that is different for every person. Once he discovers what is causing the fatigue, the proper herbal can be given. There are herbal supplements which can help most anything, including kidney and liver function.

Song’s Herbal also offers a wide selection of vitamins to help fill in the gaps of basic nutrition needs. The store has a number of organic food products and chemical-free household cleaning products. There are natural soaps, essential oils and lotion. There's even CBD.

“Anything to help someone heal,” said Rick.

Another aspect of the business is Song’s Herbal is an art gallery for renowned artist Edna Hibel, whose work has been displayed at the White House, the United Nations, and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. 

Hibel’s work has been displayed in exhibits at major museums in more than 20 countries. Rick says she was the first foreign woman to have her work displayed at an exhibit in the People’s Republic of China. 

Rick says Hibel, now deceased, received a citation of honor from Pope John Paul II and is one of the few Americans who has been presented to Queen Elizabeth II.

Rick says 60% of the proceeds from the sale of Hibel’s artwork will go to a community fund to help low-income people pay for the nutritional supplements they need. The fund is intended for people who have a serious need but don’t have the money to afford certain products.

Song’s Herbal is located in the back corner of Plaza Shopping Center not far from the old Stewart’s Pharmacy. Its phone number is 507-7664.


Offers koozie

McDonald’s has perhaps the most identifiable logo on the planet with its yellow M on a red backdrop. The fast food giant is now looking to help Ronald McDonald House Charities with the sale of $5 drink koozies designed to hug a large McDonald’s cup.

With summer unofficially arriving this Memorial Day weekend, the koozies are a great way to cool off with a refreshing Coca-Cola while also supporting a worthy cause.

A full 100% of the proceeds from koozie sales will benefit Ronald McDonald House Charities. Ronald McDonald Houses accommodate families with hospitalized children with a reported 368 houses in 64 countries. Ronald McDonald Houses provide an estimated 7,200 bedrooms to families around the world each night with estimated hotel savings reaching into millions of dollars.

There is a Ronald McDonald House in Nashville at 2144 Fairfax Avenue.

While I was visiting our local McDonald’s to snap a picture of these koozies, I was told local sales have gone very well. The koozies will be offered till the end of June.

Our McDonald’s is owned by Funderburk Management, which operates 21 McDonald’s restaurants. Our McDonald’s is the second busiest of those 21 stores.

Give yourself 15 bonus points if you knew the McDonald’s in Crossville is the busiest store, and by a large margin I was told. Why is that? The restaurant is located off I-40 which provides nearly non-stop traffic.

Our McDonald’s is busy itself. Cars are lined up in the drive thru at all hours of the day and night. I had a chance to chat with regional manager Cathy May and she told me the most popular McDonald’s menu item is chicken nuggets. After that, it’s the quarter-pounder.

The Big Mac, known for its super-secret sauce, is not atop the list of most popular menu items, Cathy said.

She was in the midst of conducting job interviews when we talked on Wednesday morning. She told me McDonald’s has upped its starting salary to $10 an hour and is still struggling to find workers.

It’s not just McDonald’s. “All you see is Help Wanted signs everywhere,” said Cathy.

She told me it’s common for people to interview for a job, get hired, and then never show up for work. She said it’s also common for people to work a couple days and then quit.

Why does it seem everywhere I go and everyone I talk to about hiring employees is saying the same thing? The bottom line is a growing number of Americans seem reluctant to work.

“It’s bad now,” said Cathy, “but what I’m really worried about is what it’s going to look like 10 years from now if this keeps up.”

Save A Lot


When it comes to shopping, I think it’s a safe generalization to say customers enjoy doing business in nice, clean stores. It’s with that in mind, Save A Lot at Northgate Center has undergone a top-to-bottom remodeling project.

The remodeling included a new sign on the front of the building, which created some initial concern. When the old sign came down, customers asked if Save A Lot was going out of business.

Save A Lot wasn’t going out of business. Rather, it was investing in McMinnville.

“I’m proud our company wants to give back to the community to make our store a place where people are happy to walk into,” said Jeff Ashford, who oversees four Save A Lot stores. “It looks great in here. People have a very nice place to shop.”

To celebrate the remodeling efforts, Save A Lot had a ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday morning. Mike Glenn, who managed the store for years, was on hand.

Mike has a long history in the grocery business, getting his start at Publix when he lived in Florida and the grocery store was primarily located in that state. He said Publix was among the first supermarkets to implement wider aisles with more lighting to brighten the shopping experience.

The grocery store was called Jeb’s when Mike first started working there. He said it became Save A Lot in 1989 or 1990. 

“I like the grocery business because I like being around people,” said Mike. “It’s like so many other businesses where you try to build customer relationships. Sometimes I would give customers a free can of vegetables. A free can of peas won’t go very far when you’re trying to feed a whole family, but it’s a nice gesture, especially if you’re trying to promote a new product. People are often hesitant about trying something new, but they will give it a try if you give it to them.”

The folks in the Save A Lot meat department are proud of their work and say the meat department is the backbone of any grocery store.

“You base your meal around meat,” said Steve Sasse, a longtime meat cutter. “You don’t base it around a vegetable. I’ve been cutting meat for 20 years and I just love it. I tried to get a white collar job because I thought I might like it better but it wasn’t for me. I came back to meat cutting. I started working for Kroger when I was in high school.”

Sasse said beef, chicken and pork all sell well at the McMinnville store.

That’s all folks

Congratulations to all the graduates with the class of 2021. May you find everlasting joy and happiness. To report business news, email