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Business Pulse - Spec Building under negotiation
Enchanted Planet.jpg
Enchanted Planet owner Shawn Berbert, shown with a $15 baja, and store financial officer Alisha Walker say Wednesday's store opening went well. Enchanted Planet at Sunnyside Heights features a replica of the downtown water tower and is open seven days a week. It's the third store for Berbert.

Anyone who pays much attention to business news may get the idea we’re sinking in quicksand.

Gas prices are choking us. Grocery prices are too. If you’re standing at a cash register anywhere in America, chances are you’re going to be paying much more than you did just a few months ago.

Personally, I blame Hillary’s emails.

Despite inflation striking like a rattlesnake, business news in Warren County keeps swimming along like Michael Phelps. Stores continue to open and everything I hear points to brisk business taking place.

It’s always refreshing to hear positive job news and it appears the Industrial Development Board may be on the verge of filling Spec Building 4 at Mt. View Industrial Park in Morrison.

IDB executive director Don Alexander says he’s currently in the midst of contract negotiations with a company looking to locate in Spec Building 4, which is 50,000 square feet. Because Don is actively engaged in these negotiations he’s not at liberty to say much, but if you read between the lines it appears the company would be bringing a number of jobs.

“They’ve already talked about wanting to expand it to 100,000 square feet,” said Don.

The great news is there’s interest. The bad news is it will still take close to a year before the building can be finished and become operational. It needs a floor and it would take about a year to get sewer there, according to a best-case scenario from engineer Nathanial Green who works with West Warren-Viola Utility District.

“I don’t know of anybody who could do much better than that under these conditions,” said Don referring to other communities which might be in competition with Warren County to land this company.

My guess is we’ll be hearing more about this company in the next few months. Business deals like this one generally take time, but Don seems to have a filing cabinet full of confidence.

When you think about material delays and construction delays due to lack of labor, our Spec Building presents a company with an opportunity to shave a tremendous amount of time – years – off their startup time. I believe a tenant will be found soon.


Let there be

Enchantment


There’s a soothing power that’s associated with enchantment. For me, enchantment brings an image of happiness perhaps induced by some mystical power, some magic potion, or some merry intoxicant.

I don’t know if Shaun Berbert had all this in mind 28 years ago when he started Enchanted Planet, but it was very much a festive celebration on Wednesday when he opened his third Enchanted Planet location at Sunnyside Heights in McMinnville.

“I started this in 1994 when I got out of the Marines,” said Shaun. “I was tired of taking orders and ready to do something different. I started this business on $500 when I was sleeping on couches and I put everything I made back into the business. Now 28 years later I have my third location.”

Enchanted Planet is located in the building that may be best known as Nana’s Kountry Kupboard. Shaun said he spent months cleaning up the grime from the former restaurant and is pleased with the way it sparkles.

“I bought the building in October and planned to be open by Christmas,” said Shaun. “It didn’t work out that way, but we’re here now.”

Among his unique decorations, Shaun has constructed a replica of the downtown water tower in the center of the store. He’s proud to say Enchanted Planet is home of the $15 baja all day, every day.

The store features festival-style clothing that can be hard to find, a wide selection of incense, custom T-shirts, tapestries, posters and oil lamps. There are CBD products and an extensive selection of pipes large and small.

“If you buy one of our Enchanted Planet club shirts, you save 10% every time you wear it into the store,” said Shaun. “We also give a discount to all veterans.”

For people who bask in the great unknown, Enchanted Planet offers grab bags for $25, $50 and $100. The bags are sealed so you don’t know what merchandise is inside before you buy it, but the retail price is guaranteed to be double what you pay. I realize everyone can do simple math, but that means a $100 grab bag will have $200 of merchandise inside.

Shaun has two other locations in Murfreesboro and Manchester and he lives right in the middle of all three in beautiful Morrison. He said he was thrilled to see a line of customers waiting outside the store at Sunnyside Heights for it to open for the first time Wednesday at 10 a.m.

Enchanted Planet will be open seven days a week for your shopping convenience. Hours are 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday thru Saturday, and 12 to 8 p.m. on Sunday.

“I’ve heard McMinnville might not be so much of a late-night town so we’re going to start by staying open till 10 p.m. and we’ll adjust those hours if we’re sitting here all alone with no customers,” said Shaun.

Enchanted Planet can be reached at (931) 414-4161.


Formit Rogers

Has new owner


What’s commonly known as the old Formit Rogers building off Sparta Street has been purchased by CPAT Distribution. 

The sale was finalized about two months ago and CPAT paid $550,000 for what amounts to more than 100,000 square feet of space. I originally thought the $550,000 price was way too much for a building that’s in shaky condition, but if you do the division, it translates to around $5 a square foot. By today’s building prices, that’s a steal, even in its current condition.

At Thursday’s monthly meeting of the Industrial Development Board, executive director Don Alexander explained the company manufactures walk-thru trailers and will start with just a handful of employees. He said CPAT Distribution is currently seeking a couple welders.

I called the company in hopes of gaining more information about their business operation and plans for the future. I’m sure they’re doing more important things than calling newspaper reporters so I’ll pass along more when I learn more.

From what I’ve been told, Formit Rogers was a thriving garment factory back in the day. It would be nice if a number of industrial jobs could return to that location.


Bussing in more

Promising news


The Main Street garage that’s been vacant for more than a year has a new owner. Graves & Wilson Properties has purchased the building that’s soaked in history.

Longtime local residents remember it as the old bus station and it later became a tire shop. It most recently served as a general garage for all types of mechanic work.

Graves & Wilson Properties is composed of Chad Graves of Graves Family Pharmacy and Jon Wilson of Wilson Cutting. I talked to Chad on Friday and he said the ideal plans are to transform the space into a unique restaurant.

“I think the restaurant concept would work well because you could open up those big garage doors and have a great atmosphere,” said Chad. “We’ve talked about a pizza place or a nice burger place. We haven’t been in a hurry and we’re trying to find the right people to run it.”

I wouldn’t look for a new restaurant to open anytime soon, but this appears to be another positive development for downtown McMinnville. With a large residential project coming to the Blue Building property with the possibility of providing homes for 60 families, a restaurant within walking distance would be a welcome addition.

I was saying about a week ago that downtown could use a burger place because it is quickly filling up with all types of restaurants, but burgers are not the specialty of any of them. I do realize Hardee’s sells hamburgers, but I’m not ready to classify it as a great burger place. Sorry Hardee’s fans.

Chad said if plans fall through for a signature restaurant, a backup plan would be to divide it into sections with perhaps a UPS Store and a sandwich shop. It always pays to have a backup plan.

Darla Seymour

Joins IDB


There was a new face at Thursday’s monthly Industrial Development Board meeting. It was none other than Darla Seymour who has joined the IDB staff as a marketing assistant.

Darla started last week and IDB executive director Don Alexander says she’s jumped right into the action and has been a big help at a busy time. The IDB currently has irons in a number of figurative fires.

Darla says she’s enjoyed her first days on the job and she’s eager to keep helping the cause to bring jobs to Warren County.


Unemployment dips


According to numbers released Thursday by the state, unemployment dropped in nearly every Tennessee county in March. The state now has 93 counties with unemployment rates below 5%. Amazing.

Here’s a snapshot of unemployment figures from Warren County and counties that may be of interest.

Rutherford 2.4%

Cannon 2.5%

Putnam 2.7%

Davidson 2.7%

Coffee 2.9%

White 2.9%

DeKalb 3.3%

Warren 3.4%

Van Buren 3.8%

It’s safe to say jobs are abundant. When automotive gets back to manufacturing at full speed, I wonder where we’re going to find the workers.


That’s all folks


Whew, what a week in business news. With any luck, next week will be even better. Send your tips to editor@southernstandard.com.