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Business Pulse - Starting a new lease on Business Pulse
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It's largely a family affair at Viola's Pizza Company. Brothers Thomas, left, and Bradley Covert assist their mother Sara Covert in the kitchen. The restaurant celebrates its fifth year in business Sept. 7.

Following James Clark as the writer of Business Pulse is a daunting task but here goes nothing. I know you’re not here for my attempt at a clever introduction so let’s just get down to business.

And now a word from our sponsor

The Southern Standard is very proud to welcome Ben Lomand Connect as the exclusive sponsor of Business Pulse going forward. I promise I’ve not been paid extra for a personal plug but I feel compelled to add one anyway.

I recently made the switch to Ben Lomand Connect’s fiber internet after many years with another company. Working from home, as I did for the last two years up until last Monday, internet speed and reliability are extremely important. Ben Lomand’s new gig-speed internet offering for $57.95 a month and no other requirements was too good of a deal to pass up. So now I’m paying less per month and getting more speed and reliability. 

Another bonus to dealing with Ben Lomand that I’ve been very pleased by is the fact that I’m dealing with a local company and it feels that way. It’s far from a faceless corporate entity. When getting things initially set up I made a couple calls to Ben Lomand’s 24/7 local customer service line. I was pleasantly surprised to be greeted by the recorded voice of my friend Bryan Kell before quickly being transferred to a super-friendly customer service rep who was able to help me with my question. The more surprising part was when, a few days later, I called once again and was greeted by the same representative who remembered our talk. It honestly shocked me. That’s something you don’t expect when dealing with most internet providers. In fact, I’d be surprised if two calls even went to the same state with my previous company. 

Within a couple weeks of joining Ben Lomand Connect, I was part of their widespread outage that many customers faced. Even that unfortunate hiccup was encouraging to me. The way Ben Lomand provided detailed updates and didn’t speak down to customers as well as the many testimonials from customers on Facebook who said that was the first outage they had experienced in years was good to hear for this new customer. 

So I say all that to say welcome to Business Pulse, Ben Lomand Connect. I’m glad to have the column sponsored by a company I truly believe in. 

Location, location, location

A valuable commercial property is for sale and, word is, there’s already a lot of talk about it from interested parties outside of McMinnville. 532 Sunnyside Heights, the former location of Nana’s Kountry Kupboard and, more recently, Enchanted Planet, is once again looking for a new owner. The 2,376 square foot building, which neighbors Papa John’s, is listed for $250,000 by Bill Jakes Realty and hit the market Aug. 23. The listing touts easy loading from the back of the building, ownership of the parking lot, large display windows and its visibility from McMinnville’s busiest intersection.

Anytime a commercial building in a prime location opens up, the speculation begins as to what could fill the vacancy. The 65-foot-wide building still has a hood in the kitchen area and a relatively new roof and HVAC system so it would seem to be ready-made for a restaurant. 

It’s been less than a year since the building previously sold for $170,000 on Sept. 15, 2021. Before that, it brought $50,000 on March 26, 2018.

We’ll have to wait and see what the future holds but judging from the level of interest which accompanied its listing, it may be a short wait. 

Five years of Viola's Pizza Company

Brian and Sara Covert have turned their love of pizza into a thriving business that has become a destination and brought life to the downtown Viola area. 

Viola’s Pizza Company is celebrating its fifth year in business this month. Brian and Sara credit their ability to survive and thrive through tough times to their adherence to three principles: Use the finest ingredients, treat customers and employees like family and always give back to the community.

I can personally testify to their treatment of customers. My wife, Ashley, is allergic to dairy, so pizza is generally a no-go for her. So you can imagine her delight when she was attending a meeting that Viola’s Pizza Company was catering and realized they had included a special cheese-free pizza for her without being asked because they knew she would be in attendance. This has happened multiple times.

It’s that kind of personal touch that truly fosters customer loyalty and that loyalty has contributed to the business’ longevity. Viola’s Pizza Company has established itself as a staple pizza restaurant which serves primarily Warren, Coffee and Grundy counties. The restaurant was even featured in the leading pizza industry magazine, “Pizza Today.”

Viola’s Pizza Company is as generous with their community pride as they are with their toppings, having run a crowd-funding campaign for the installation of the first piece of public art in Viola in conjunction with the artist Megan Lingerfelt.

“We are honored to be a part of these communities who’ve enjoyed and supported Viola’s Pizza Company throughout the past five years,” said Brian Covert.  “So many of our customers and employees have become like family.  We are truly humbled by the support and loyalty we’ve received in Viola.”

You can find out more at or on Facebook.

Here’s wishing Viola’s Pizza Company many more years of success.

Turn clutter

into cash

They say one person’s trash is another person's  treasure. It could also be said that one person’s playthings are another person’s profession. Both statements apply to Nathan George’s new business Nathan’s Knick-Knacks. 

Nathan began turning his lifelong love of toys into a side business in 2020 when COVID slowed business at the Verizon Store in Manchester where he previously worked. 

“I was always a big nerd who loved my toys so when I started looking for ways to get a little extra money, buying and selling toys seemed like a good fit,” Nathan said. “At the end of last year when doing my taxes, I realized I could make this work full-time. In six to eight hours of work in a week I was making over half of what I was making working nine hours a day at my other job.”

This is his first full month buying and selling toys online and things are going well. Nathan spends his weekends cruising yard sales and estate sales. During the week he focuses on appointments made by customers with a basement or attic they’re looking to clean out. I was one of those customers this Wednesday. My friends know me as the guy who still owns pretty much every toy he ever had so I made a call to Nathan to make some money and clear out some space. I can attest to his fairness and his knowledge of the toy market. 

“I bought out an entire attic of toys recently for $600, which I thought was a fair price. But after I sold it, I ended up making a lot more than I expected and I kind of felt bad so I went back to the house and handed them $400 more,” Nathan said of one transaction.

Nathan’s favorite part of his new business is the thrill of the hunt. “I walked up to a yard sale once and found a lot of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles I hadn’t seen before and the adrenaline rush was great. That’s my favorite part.”

His top sellers are generally He-Man and G.I. Joe toys. He said the nostalgia market is currently favoring anything in the mid-80s but the hot era always shifts with the ages of the buyers.

His biggest sale was an “I Love Lucy” doll of Ethel Mertz dressed as Santa that he bought at a yard sale for $6. He later sold it for $1,500. 

This is now Nathan’s full-time business so he’s available almost any time to check out that old box of toys you have stashed away collecting dust. If you’ve got too much stuff, not enough space and could use some extra money, or if you want to recapture a piece of your youth, Nathan’s Knick-Knacks can be found on Facebook and Nathan can be reached at (931) 224-2049.

Until next time,

same biz time,

same biz page

That's one Business Pulse in the books. I'm not quite as tuned-in to the business world as my predecessor just yet, so please help me out and e-mail your business tips to or call (931) 473-2191 and ask for me. Thanks.