Stand-up comedian James Gregory has given himself a pretty clever nickname in billing himself as “The Funniest Man in America.” Gregory’s claim may not necessarily be true, but it’s a great promotional tool.
I often think I need to do a better job of marketing myself with some embellished branding. I could use a catchy slogan, perhaps something a little outlandish, even if it’s not necessarily true.
If it’s something subjective like humor, or business reporting, who can really say who’s the Best in America? Is this the greatest business column in the world? Probably not, but my mother might believe it is so that’s good enough for me.
However, there’s one sticking point. I don’t want to be defined by a business column. That seems so monotone. I have my sights set on a much larger cookie jar.
That’s why, after thoughtful consideration, I’ve decided on a self-proclaimed title of my own. From this point forward, I will be going by James Clark “America’s Sunshine.” If you prefer, you can simply call me America’s Sunshine for short. This is because my ultimate goal is not to provide business news, but to beam happiness into hearts all across Middle Tennessee.
As for other things with the prospect of bringing happiness, there’s promising news emanating from Plaza Shopping Center. We all know Stewart Pharmacy is gone and there’s a rather large vacancy to fill, but hope is in the fast lane and traveling toward McMinnville.
In talking to shopping center manager Tommy Duggin on Friday, he told me serious talks are under way with a retail chain that’s looking to take the entire space which was long occupied by Stewart’s. When I asked Tommy if this store would bring a high level of excitement for local residents, he answered, “Oh yeah.”
In my experience as a business writer, I’ve discovered there are typically two ways of dealing with my pesky questions. The first is to tell me everything I want to know but make me promise absolute secrecy. This method is rewarding for me, but then it prevents me from tapping my secret Business Cheetah sources stationed throughout the community to find the information elsewhere and then report it in the paper.
The second method is to tell me nothing. With no obligation of keeping any information out of the paper, this leaves me open to wild speculation, which I enjoy.
Since Tommy didn’t give me any hints, that leaves it open for speculation and what might be a good fit for that 12,500 square feet of space. According to the National Retail Federation, McMinnville currently has two of the top companies on the grow in Tractor Supply Company and Hibbett Sports. We also have our fair share of Dollar General stores.
That space would not be big enough for something truly spectacular like Dick’s Sporting Goods or a Bass Pro Shop. Those two stores would make folks turn cartwheels, including me.
Based on the available space, I think that location would be more suited for a Family Dollar, Shoe Carnival or Burlington Coat Factory. Those are just wild guesses based on companies currently growing. Tommy said a deal, if it happens, will probably take place in a month or so.
As for other Plaza Shopping Center news, the spot formerly occupied by Gondola and most recently by Kenzeroni’s is in the process of getting a new restaurant tenant. Tommy told me the restaurant style is going to be meat and three.
When I first started writing this column in the late 1990s, it seemed every new restaurant which opened in McMinnville was a meat and three. Now such restaurants are somewhat rare so I’ll be anxious to give this place a try.
Little Joe back in car business
After a five-year absence, Joe Shelton is getting back in the car business and is in the process of reopening Shelton Motor Company on Sparta Street.
Joe told me Friday he had hoped to be open by now but he’s run into a wall of red tape from the city of McMinnville because his car business has been closed since 2010.
“It seems like the city does more to put you out of business than to put you in business,” said Joe. “I’m trying to get it open but the city is giving me a fit. Since it hasn’t been a car lot for the past year, I have to get a new zoning certificate to get it zoned commercial even though it’s been zoned commercial since 1955. I’ve kept the water and electric on the whole time and I’ve paid property taxes on it as commercial and now I have to get it rezoned commercial. The next meeting isn’t till the end of the month.”
I can understand Joe’s frustration and he has conveyed that frustration clearly. As for his business once he gets back up and running, Joe said he’s going to start small and gradually expand as necessary.
When it comes to cars, most people know Joe has a deep history. His mother’s side of the family sold cars in Murfreesboro, while his dad’s side sold cars in Manchester. His dad, Rocket Joe, opened Shelton’s Automotive at that spot on Sparta Street in 1955.
The business would eventually move further out Sparta Street to be located by the hospital before selling to Edd Rogers in 1997 and moving back to that familiar Sparta Street corner.
“I’m tapping on the door of my family being in the car business for 100 years,” said Little Joe.
Look for Shelton Motors to reopen once Joe fights through all the necessary regulations.
Sears gets new look
Sears at Northgate Center has been under renovation since January. Now that the dust has settled, a fabulous new look has emerged along with the distinction of being an America’s Appliance Expert store.
“We’re still a Sears Hometown Store, but they’ve enhanced our format by creating these exclusive stores for appliance experts,” said Sears owner Teresa Barrett. “We’re still the same sweet, smiling faces and that same friendly service. And we’re still lawn and garden experts too.”
Teresa said it can sometimes be difficult to envision how a new refrigerator or stove will look in your home when you’re looking down a long line of appliances. The new Sears format takes that into consideration and places appliances in a kitchen-like setting to provide a more realistic look.
Teresa said Sears will continue to carry trusted appliances such as Whirlpool, Maytag, KitchenAid, Samsung and Kenmore. In tools and lawn and garden, there’s still the reliable Craftsman brand.
“Our sales team has been specially trained to help guide customers to the leading brand names and high-performing appliances on the market and always at the low prices they’ve come to expect,” said Teresa.
Sears has been in the news recently for the wrong reasons as it was recently announced the chain would be closing 50 of its full-service stores. I’ve even been asked by some residents if we would be losing our local Sears.
Teresa emphasized there’s no danger of our local store closing. She says Sears Hometown Stores, which is the type of store we have here in McMinnville, is a thriving company. She said Sears Holding Company is the larger company which has experienced some financial trouble.
“We separated from the parent company quite a few years ago and the two companies are totally separate,” said Teresa. “They are even traded separately on the New York Stock Exchange. The Hometown Stores are everything Sears does right.”
If you’d like to give our new and improved Sears a look, store hours are Monday thru Saturday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday from 12:30 to 5:30 p.m. The phone number is 473-2164.
Northgate Center getting prettier
While I was in Sears talking to Teresa, she made sure to mention the entire Northgate Shopping Center is in the midst of a massive renovation project that’s resulted in roof work, new paint, and other improvements.
The shopping center is thriving with some quality tenants and only one vacancy in the entire center. It also has some impressive anchors in Save-A-Lot, Factory Connection, Big Lots, La Cazona, and the aforementioned Sears. Even its smaller stores like China Wok, Game Xchange, and Sullivan’s Hometown Pharmacy bring customers to the shopping center. And don’t forget Mud Bums.
Across the way at Cumberland Plaza, commonly called the Lowe’s shopping center, every space is filled. There are no store openings.
I bring this up because I’m wondering out loud how these shopping centers can do so well while our beloved Three Star Mall seems in a perpetual struggle to retain tenants. I’m not trying to be critical of our mall, but I was asked a couple months ago by a county official about what I thought would be the best benefit to our community from an economic standpoint. My answer: a thriving Three Star Mall.
Imagine for a moment a Three Star Mall where every space was filled with a retail tenant. Imagine a Starbucks at the old Cookie Shop, an Apple store at the old Radio Shack, a J. Crew at the old Bookland, and a Jared’s at the old jewelry store.
This would be a great day for McMinnville.
Get posterized by the Standard
It was six or seven years ago when we here at the Standard heavily promoted the service of making posters for the public. We publicized the fact any picture you saw in the newspaper could be made into a poster, or any quality picture brought to us could be made into a poster.
I wouldn’t describe the response as overwhelming, but it was robust. It got to the point where we were frequently backed up three or four posters at a time and it became difficult to complete all the poster orders around our regular newspaper work.
So we stopped promoting this poster program and it slowly died, giving us more time to focus on the newspaper. We’ve since had time to reflect on this move and we’ve determined turning away good business is probably not a smart thing to do. That’s why it’s my pleasure to reintroduce the Standard’s new and improved poster-making service.
If you see a picture of little Billy playing T-ball in the newspaper, or if we snap a photo of you out and about the community, these photos can be made into posters. Or you can bring us a sharp picture and we can make that into a poster, complete with lamination to preserve it through all eternity.
Just this past week we made sports reporter Bruce Duke a Fathead-type poster of his oddly charming head and he received comments from nearly everyone who stepped foot in the newsroom. The posters are a hit.
I think you get the gist of this service and the best part is we’re not raising the price one dime from the cost of yesteryear. It remains $30. So give us a call if you’d like a special keepsake like none other, a poster of yourself, your mother, your child, or your nemesis. Call Seth Wright for more information at 473-2191.
Austin joins Riverview Terrace
There’s a new administrator at Riverview Terrace and it’s none other than Gail Austin. She comes to the cozy assisted living facility after serving as the regional marketing advisor for Americare, its parent company.
“We have a great building here and a loving, caring staff,” said Gail, who has been in the industry since she was 18. “These folks become our family. I’m already attached and I just started here Feb. 1.”
Gail is all in when it comes to serving the residents of Riverview Terrace, which is located at 114 Highland Drive. In addition to accepting the job here, she also relocated to this area.
Operating an assisted living facility is a 24-7 commitment. There are activities to plan, three meals a day to prepare, and daily assistance to be provided.
Riverview Terrace currently has 21 residents. Gail says it has a capacity of 50, but that’s with all double occupancy rooms at full capacity. She says increasing to 31 residents is her goal.
“I’d love to have anybody stop by and see me at any time to learn more about our services and how we can best assist them,” said Gail.
Riverview Terrace can be reached at 473-2033.
Kevin’s is cashing out
Kevin’s Quick Cash on Chancery Street is in the process of closing. When I stopped by the store Friday, I was told the last day was either going to be Saturday or Monday or Tuesday. That means if the store isn’t closed by the time you read this article, it will be closed in the coming days.
When it’s gone, there will be a prime piece of real estate available on Chancery Street. I think it would be a great place to put a Golden Corral. That’s just a thought.
That’s all folks
Take care and drive safely. The number to call for all your business tips is 473-2191.