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Business Pulse - New kids clothing store coming

The uplifting news continues for Main Street where a new clothing store is on the way.

Red Door Boutique, which has done well for itself at Plaza Shopping Center, is expanding with a second store that will be called Red Door Kids. The projected opening date will be early to mid-March.

Store owner Jessica George already has a selection of clothing for kids, mainly girls, at Red Door Boutique. That selection will multiply like rabbits at Red Door Kids, which will be devoted to boys and girls clothing up to late teens.

“Since Goody’s and JC Penney have closed down, I’ve really heard a lot of comments that we have nowhere in town to buy kids clothing,” said Jessica. “This will be clothing for newborns all the way up to the 16 to 18 tweens. It will be boys and girls and I really want to stress the boys because there’s nowhere for them right now.”

Red Door Kids will be locating where Doodle Fish Studio is now at 102 West Main Street next to the law office of Stanley & Bratcher. Doodle Fish is in the process of moving a couple doors down to the old Furry Tails store. Jessica says she’ll take possession of the store Feb. 1 and expects it will take about a month to get everything ready. “I envision it as being more department store level instead of more boutiquey,” said Jessica. “I plan to carry a lot of jeans.”

Jessica also wants to emphasize she’s not closing Red Door Boutique at Plaza Shopping Center. Red Door Kids will be in addition to that store.

“We love our spot at the Plaza and 2020 was chaotic but it was our best year yet,” said Jessica. “We’ve been carrying newborn to 7-8 and I keep getting asked if I can get bigger clothing. Yes I can, but we’ve run out of room at this location.”

Jessica is on her way to market in Atlanta on Monday. She said like Red Door Boutique, Red Door Kids will feature the latest fashions for kids who want to stay in style. The business can be reached at (423) 364-3187.

What about Doodle Fish?

If you’re wondering about the Doodle Fish Studio move I mentioned in the previous segment, here’s a little more information on that. I talked to Doodle Fish owner Stephanie Fish on Friday and she said the chance to expand at a nearby location was too good to pass up.

“Either you grow or you quit,” said Stephanie, whose business gives people a place to do arts and crafts. “This was a good opportunity for me, about double the space. And it will allow me to have my own party room.”

Doodle Fish opened on Main Street almost exactly two years ago today on Jan. 12, 2019. Since Furry Tails has already moved out, Stephanie said she’s been busy working on the storefront and her goal is to be moved in Feb. 1.

One thing I like about the new Doodle Fish location is the large storefront windows which will allow Stephanie to display nice artwork and perhaps attract more customers.

Whenever I talk to local business owners, I make it a point to ask them about 2020. I’ve been surprised by how many people say it was a solid year from a business standpoint.

“Even with 2020 being a nightmare, last year was a great year for us,” said Stephanie. Doodle Fish can be reached at 474-8922.

As for Furry Tales, to complete this sort of musical chairs, it has moved to 3874 Sparta Highway. From what I understand, this will allow Furry Tales to achieve its goal of offering a boarding service to accompany its dog grooming.

A note about Business Pulse

When it comes to business comings and goings, the goal of this column is to be informative. I don’t consider myself a critic and I don’t normally give reviews.

There’s a reason for this. When I started writing this column more than two decades ago, I visited a restaurant where the food wasn’t very good. I didn’t like it at all. So when typing up that segment for Business Pulse, I happened to mention the menu items I tried and the fact they were pretty lousy.

This didn’t go over well with the restaurant owner who was quick to let me know on Monday. He said he wished he had never called me in the first place and that my story wasn’t going to help him attract the first customer.

He was absolutely right. So I allowed my days of giving business reviews to stop at that one bad writeup because the idea of this column is to help businesses as they are getting started. It’s counterproductive for me to tell people about a new restaurant and then say, by the way, the food stinks.

I know it’s tough for new businesses trying to make it. There’s often not a lot of money to spare or a customer base established. My goal is to lend a hand, not deliver a kick to the teeth.

Sampa’z Gets cooking

The previous segment about restaurant reviews was written with Sampa’z in mind. The fact that I don’t typically insert my personal comments is bad news for Sampa’z, which has delicious food. That’s why I wanted to follow back around and promote this husband-and-wife team of Sam and Denice Benson who are doing some mean cooking at Plaza Shopping Center.

I ordered two pizzas from Sampa’z a couple weeks ago and those were some good pizzas. The first thing I notice when Denice handed me the boxes was the weight. The pizzas were much bigger than what I expected. Sam says that’s a frequent comment.

“People tell us all the time that our mediums are like the larges for everyone else,” said Sam. “We’ve gotten thank you calls from people who have picked up an order and then they call after they’ve eaten just to tell us how good it was and how much they enjoyed it.”

When Sam and Denice were getting Sampa’z ready to open last February, little did they know it would be the worst time possible. Just as they were putting the finishing touches on the building, the pandemic hit and restaurants were forced to close. They were finally able to open in May but the economic climate was hardly ideal.

It’s taken several months, but Sampa’z has finally developed a following because of its food.

“People who eat here once come back,” said Denise. “Our lunch is getting more consistent crowds and we’ve introduced several new items. We now have beer and the TVs are on for anyone who wants to come in and watch a game. It’s good food at fair prices and I think peopleappreciate that.”

Famous undertaker Joe Michael Woodside was inside Sampa’z picking up a to-go order when I stopped by Friday. He said he’s been impressed with the food.

“I usually get the ham and cheese but I’m branching out today and getting the roast beef,” said Joe Michael. “The food has been good.”

Johnnie Allison was another satisfied customer Friday for lunch.

“I love the sweet and spicy wings,” said Johnnie, who pointed out the large size of each wing.

Sampa’z is located at what I still call the old Gondola spot, even though there have been several restaurants there since Gondola left. Sampa'z can be reached at (931) 304-8157.

How’s tourism?

For years, McMinnville officials have been making a push to increase tourism. To that end, they even created a Tourism Development Board with that specific goal in mind.

So how has local tourism been faring during a pandemic when people are being told to stay home?

“It’s almost impossible to plan any type of event right now,” said Tourism Development Board chair Christy Ross. “I was putting out feelers for the Dottie West Music Fest as something we’d like to bring back and then the pandemic hit. It’s hurt any type of music event.”

But Christy was quick to add our community is a welcome mat for people who are eager to enjoy the outdoors.

“Getting outside for day-cations has been a big thing and we are a perfect place for that,” said Christy. “A lot of our tourism comes from our natural landscape and where we’re located from Nashville, Chattanooga and Knoxville gives those residents an easy getaway to explore a small town.”

When contacted Friday, Rock Island State Park manager Damon Graham said it was a strong spring and summer for the park because many people view getting outdoors as a safe activity.

One quick way to gauge the status of tourism is to see how full our hotels have been. Keval Sheth at Best Western Tree City Inn said much of 2020 was difficult.