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Business Pulse - New business a little fishy
Pet shop - owner.jpg
Bobbie Waggoner has opened Fish & Critters at 2416 Smithville Highway across the street from Gateway Tire. She wants to give local residents a place to buy pet supplies they can't purchase anywhere else in town. Fish & Critters is closed on Mondays and open the other six days of the week.

Most people don’t embrace large, hairy spiders or slithering snakes in their home.

For those who do, a new pet store opened Saturday in McMinnville. 

Bobbie Waggoner has followed her dream and opened Fish & Critters across from Gateway Tire at 2416 Smithville Highway.

The store has just about everything when it comes to pets and pet supplies. The two main items she doesn’t have plans to carry are cats and dogs because she wants to specialize in items people can’t get other places.

“I think it’s awful that people would have to drive out of town just to get to a pet store,” said Bobbie, who is opening the store with her husband Danny. “I’m targeting the items people can’t get in town, the stuff Walmart and Tractor Supply don’t carry. Walmart doesn’t even sell fish anymore. You shouldn’t have to drive an hour just to get a fish.”

If you’re looking to start an aquarium, Fish & Critters has everything you need. There are even complete aquarium packages available that contain all the needed parts and accessories.

“All you have to do is add water,” said Bobbie.

She has several attractive displays positioned around the store to show just how nice your aquarium can look. She also has a wide selection of fish.

Just as noteworthy, Fish & Critters has spiders, snakes and birds for sale. One of the most eye-catching spiders is the tarantula, which has brought terror to many a horror film. Bobbie admits she doesn’t really like spiders but she’s amazed at the number of people who do.

“I’m comfortable with everything in here but the spiders,” said Bobbie. “I won’t touch the spiders.”

As she’s been getting the store ready to open, she says the two biggest requests she’s had are for crickets and meal worms, which she has in stock. Bobbie said the crickets and meal worms are used to provide live food for reptiles.

Also in stock are birds and chameleons. Danny got one of the chameleons out of its container on Friday and allowed it to crawl around on his sleeve. The little guy surveyed his surroundings with curiosity.

Bobbie said she will do her best to satisfy customer requests.

“If you come in and ask for it, I can’t promise you I can get it, but I can promise you I will try,” said Bobbie. “I’ll also have a community bulletin board where people are welcome to come in and make posts, which would be a good spot for people to advertise for cats and dogs.”

Fish & Critters is closed on Monday, but open the other six days of the week. Hours are 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday thru Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday. The store can be reached at (931) 414-4021. The address is 2416 Smithville Highway at the old Scotty’s Computer building.

Hometown bank

Is on the grow

It’s certainly worth mentioning the accomplishments of Ray Talbert and John Duncan at Homeland Community Bank. They are closing in on 17 years of service since going out on their own and opening a hometown bank from scratch.

Their work has more than paid off as Homeland Community Bank has grown to have three Warren County locations, some 30 employees and around $150 million in assets. That’s quite an accomplishment.

I was pleasantly surprised as I was making a trip to Murfreesboro on Wednesday to glance over to my right and see a sign proclaiming an area to be the future home of Homeland Community Bank. The spot is just past the Cannon County Arts Center on the right as you’re leaving Woodbury on the way to Murfreesboro.

This is big news indeed as Ray and John have not only thrived here in Warren County, but they’re ready to tackle other frontiers. I hope to provide more information about the upcoming growth of Homeland Community Bank as it becomes available.


Café now open

There's a new restaurant in Morrison that has a little of everything, from home cooking to Philly cheesesteaks.

Southern Comfort Café has opened at 100 West Maple Street in downtown Morrison in a building that was constructed in 1908 and once served as the town library.

“We’ve had people stop in to get something to eat just because they like the look of the building and they wanted to see what it looks like inside,” said Rhonda Gaines, who owns the restaurant with Cathy Guess. “This is our fifth week of being open. Some days we’ve just been swamped all day long. Other days we’re not as busy. We’re sort of off the beaten path so we’re still trying to get people to realize we’re here.”

Southern Comfort Café is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday thru Friday, and from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday. It’s closed Sunday and Monday.

There’s a full selection of breakfast, lunch and dinner items beginning with eggs, biscuits, gravy, and pancakes in the morning. The Friday lunch special featured meatloaf, stewed potatoes, pinto beans and macaroni and cheese.

Rhonda said also popular is the meatloaf sandwich. She’s done restaurant work in the past and said there haven’t been any complaints about her cooking. Previously she operated a bar and grill in Manchester, which is much different than her cozy establishment in Morrison.

“Operating a bar and grill is a whole lot different,” said Rhonda. “It’s all day and all night. I like this much better. So far we haven’t had anyone in here fighting over a man, or a woman.”

Rhonda said she’s already developed a small core of regular customers and she’s met some really fascinating people, both from Warren County and from outside our community.

The dining room seats 16 and Rhonda estimates business has been about 50-50 from people dining in and picking up to-go orders. For anyone who would like to place an order, the number is (931) 318-1069.

“With the holidays just around the corner, you can order whole pies and cakes,” said Rhonda. “We’ll also do catering. Just call us in advance and tell us what you need.”


getting better

Here is some great news to report. The unemployment rates in all of Tennessee’s 95 counties decreased in September, according to figures released Thursday by the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

 Twenty-seven counties recorded unemployment rates below 5%. There were no counties with an unemployment rate higher than 10% in September.

For the county we all know and love, Warren County, the unemployment rate dipped to 6% in September. That's a decrease of 1.9% from the month before.

According to the state, the top counties for unemployment are as follows:

1. Moore 3.2%

2. Williamson 3.6%

3. Pickett 3.7%

4. Overton 4.2%

5. Hickman 4.3%

6. Smith 4.3%

7. Johnson 4.4%

8. Chester 4.4%

9. Crockett 4.4%

10. Cannon 4.4%

The worst counties for unemployment are as follows:

95. Shelby 9.9%

94. Haywood 8.6%

93. Lauderdale 7.5%

92. Davidson 7.5%

91. Cocke 7.1%

90. Hardeman 7.1%

89. Lake 7.0%

88. McNairy 6.8%

87. Madison 6.8%

86. Meigs 6.6%

Unemployment also decreased nationally in September. The seasonally adjusted rate for the United States is 7.9%, down 0.5 of a percentage point from August’s revised rate of 8.4%. Tennessee's unemployment rate is now 1.6 percentage points lower than the national rate.

Even with the jobless rate dropping, there are still plenty of positions available. Businesses across Tennessee are ready to help the state’s economy stay on the rebound by reemploying out of work individuals., Tennessee’s workforce development website, currently has 219,000 open positions for all job skill levels.

That's all folks

It feels like the economy is gaining steam as we emerge from the effects of the pandemic. If you have business tips to report, don't hesitate to call. The number is 473-2191 and the email is