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Business Pulse - Offering shelter from the storm
Tim Howard, left, and Jimmy Jones have started Middle Tennessee Storm Shelters just in time for tornado season. They offer shelters in three different sizes with the large capable of holding 12 people. They offer professional, one-day installation.

Warren County Schools closed early Thursday due to a threat of severe weather, including possible tornados. Warren County government and the courthouse closed early too.

The wonder of spring is in the air, but that merriment also brings with it dangerous weather conditions that can uproot property and jeopardize lives.

Thankfully, a new business called Middle Tennessee Storm Shelters is riding into Warren County on its white horse. Jimmy Jones and Tim Howard picked an opportune time to start a business that installs storm shelters and can save lives.

“Some people are really scared of storms and this can be a great comfort,” said Jimmy. “We’re selling them as fast as we can get them in, actually faster because we have several backorders.”

Jimmy said he began to give such a business serious consideration last year at this time when a tornado ripped through Cookeville and caused 24 deaths.

“We looked at several different companies and this is the best one we could find,” said Jimmy, who said he and Tim toured the manufacturing plant in Texas. “This is the Cadillac of storm shelters.”

Said Tim, “We wanted to sell storm shelters, but we didn’t want someone else to come in and do it better. We wanted to offer the best.”

The storm shelters are buried almost entirely underground. The door and two air vents are the only things above the surface. The small model can fit up to 6 people. The large model can fit up to 12.

“We’re an authorized dealer and installer,” said Jimmy. “These shelters are FEMA approved and can withstand an F5 tornado.”

If you’re interested in getting the small model, the price is $4,400. That does not include installation.

Circumstances vary, but the final price is typically right at $6,000 to purchase and have the small model fully installed. Concrete anchors are used to hold the shelter in place. Installation can be done in a day and requires digging a very large hole.

“We’ll provide consultation to advise you on the best place to put it,” said Jimmy. “You don’t want to put one in a low-lying area and you want it to be fairly close to your house in case you need to rush out the door.”

Tim said cellphones will work from inside the storm shelter. While the shelters don’t currently come with this option, Tim says they are working on a 12-volt accessory package which would provide a power source so you could watch TV or charge your phone.

“In the short time we’ve been open we’ve dealt with all different kinds of customers,” said Tim. “Some people have called and haven’t asked any questions. They say come out and install it as soon as you can. Other people aren’t as ready to buy and they have a lot of questions. That’s OK too. We’ll provide all the information people want.”

The medium shelter, which can fit 8, costs $5,300. The large shelter that can fit up to 12 costs $6,300. That’s the price before installation.

“Since most people don’t have that kind of money just to plop down, we are working with a company to provide financing,” said Jimmy.

Middle Tennessee Storm Shelters doesn’t have regular business hours. Jimmy and Tim say they’re available on their cellphones 24-7. Call (931) 808-7338 for Jimmy and (931) 224-5267 for Tim.

The life you save may be your own.

Farmers Market Opens next weekend

Tornados are undoubtedly the part of spring I like the least. One of the parts I like the most is the flowers and vegetables that are beginning to arrive.

Next weekend is opening Saturday at the Farmers Market, a time of great joy.

“The first day is usually a little slower, but there’s always excitement about opening for the season,”

said Mark Santucci, president of the Farmers Market board. “Ten to 12 vendors are usually normal for opening day. We’ll have lettuce and Glen Yoder will be selling his greenhouse tomatoes. Vendors are also allowed to bring yard-sale type items for opening day. It helps get people to come out at a time when there’s not a lot available.”

In addition, Santucci will be on hand selling his frozen chicken. A whole chicken or different parts can be purchased.

Official Farmers Market hours are 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Demolition an improvement

The building which was formerly at 215 Morford Street has been leveled and removed.

To the best of my memory, it was most recently Annie’s Corner Cottage, an antique store, until fire struck the building in March, 2019.

The fire put the finishing touches on a building that had been walking with a limp for years. I consider its demolition a good thing for the greater downtown community, a step in the right direction.

I know that’s not necessarily a politically correct statement in this day where we’re supposed to preserve every old building under the notion that it’s “historic.” Just think of the Blue Building. It’s a building that’s so historic we get to watch it slowly cave in on itself. Is that progress?

Progress no, but social experiment yes. How long will one building be allowed to stand just because some people went to school there? The experiment has entered its 12th year.

That sidebar aside, Kara Youngblood is the owner of the building which used to stand at 215 Morford Street. Kara said her goal is to rebuild and construct additional office space on that property, which is adjacent to her law firm, Youngblood & Associates.

She needs the space because her law firm is prospering and adding employees. She says she’s probably a year or two out before any actual construction starts.

As for Youngblood & Associates, it’s a uniquely structured immigration law firm that can help individuals, families and businesses. It’s a great fit for Warren County.

For individuals, the goal is to find a path to legal status. For family members, navigating the process of immigration is complicated, but Youngblood & Associates can work to find solutions based on each family’s circumstances.

For businesses, finding the best employees can be difficult and sometimes the search has to be widened to include candidates who are not U.S. citizens. That’s the reality of the world in which we live.

Immigration is a major issue in today’s climate and it’s great to have a local business like Youngblood & Associates that can work to ensure people who come to America are here legally. If you need to contact the law firm, the phone number is (931) 274-7811.

Red Door Kids Opens for business

Just when you thought this business column couldn’t get any better, it just did. Red Door Kids has opened its glass door on Main Street to bring what’s expected to be a thriving business downtown.

“The foot traffic has been phenomenal, especially being right next to Topz,” said Red Door owner Jessica George. “That’s the best thing we could have done.”

Jessica has operated Red Door Boutique for over four years, but decided to branch out to a children’s store due to local need. She had been working on revitalizing her store for more than a month.

“Everything came together so smoothly,” said Jessica. “The store has been very well received. We opened Monday and we sold so

much I had to order more clothes Thursday night. I’m already finding out what people want and learning about some holes we had in the inventory. I didn’t go all-in on Easter because we were opening so close to it and I didn’t know what to expect. We offer the basics and we offer dressy. We try to cover all the bases.”

One thing Jessica has learned quickly is many people want matching outfits for their children. She aims to please and has outfits to satisfy that want.

Also of note, she offers free ear piercings and sells the Great Pretenders jewelry line. You can get pierced and find a neat earring all in one stop.

I think Red Door Kids it a great addition to downtown McMinnville. May it dance with prosperity and tango with success.

Red Door Kids can be reached at (423) 364-3187.

Old Nana’s For sale

Anyone who read last week’s installment of Business Pulse may recall I talked about the closing of Kountry Kupboard, which was formerly Nana’s Kountry Kupboard.

Local realtor Charlene Long called me Monday to tell me she has the property at Sunnyside Heights listed for sale and it’s available for the low price of $199,900. Charlene pointed out the restaurant has 4,200 square feet of space, two new HVAC units, and a new roof.

For anyone inclined to jump into the fast-paced restaurant business, this is a proven spot. Long Realty can be reached at 4741651.

Mary’s still Hanging on

I devoted much space in last Sunday's edition to talking about local nurseries which are working to pick up the slack in the absence of our beloved Mary’s Greenhouse, which is closing.

Mary’s co-owner Mike Hamby called me on Monday to let me know that Mary’s is still trying to sell off a few remaining items and is still open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. for anyone interested.

“We’re trying to clean everything out because the next guys probably don’t want our stuff,” said Mike. “We’ll probably still be open the next three to four weeks selling what we have left. We’re a general Sanford & Son here. We have a little of everything.”

Mike said no annuals were planted for this year, but there are still a few things left, mainly ornamental grasses, pots, and other odds and ends. If you think you might want to scavenge what remains from Mary’s Greenhouse, the business is located on Meiser Lane.

That’s all folks

Wish me luck as I’m bracing to take my second COVID-19 vaccination shot on Monday. I’m expecting the best.

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