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Business Pulse 4-26-15
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If only every night could be as wonderfully joyous as prom night.
Just think of all the perks. Limousine riding. Fine-restaurant dining. Dance-floor grinding.
If that's not enough, you get to make fun of all your friends with prom prophecies, the one time of year when it's perfectly OK to insult anyone, no offense.
After hearing all the prophecies announced at Warren County High School's prom Friday night, I toyed with the idea of introducing Business Pulse prophecies. But adults just aren't as good as kids when it comes to shrugging their shoulders and taking jokes.
Seeing all the extravagance on display at the prom does leave one overwhelming impression. The prom is sure a quick way to blow through $1,000 in one night. You think Rolling Stones tickets in Nashville are expensive. Wait till some of these parents get the total bill from this four-hour dance. Yikes!
I think I saw some dresses worth more than my first car. Come to think of it, I saw a few dresses worth more than my current car.

It’s waiting game on The Strip

The most common question I’ve been asked in recent weeks is about the long-vacant, 2.9-acre lot on New Smithville Highway across from Sonic. Everyone wants to know what’s going in that spot.
I had a chance to talk with prominent realtor Sally Steakley a couple days ago and she’s not going to let it slip about the companies she’s working with for that location. Did you notice I said companies?
The property has been divided into two tracts and Sally says there are contracts on both parcels. Yes, it appears two businesses are on the verge of locating there. That doesn’t bring us closer to the million dollar question of what will they be, but it does send my level of encouragement to new heights.
Sally says these companies have to go through all the checklists that big corporations have before finalizing property deals. These include such things as soil samples, core drillings, and taking architectural sketches before the planning commission. I suspect it will be June or July before we know any more details.

Old Hastings has new tenant

I never thought it would take two years to find a new tenant for the old Hastings building, but the wait is finally over. Serenity Thrift will be locating its fourth store at Northgate Center in the former Hastings spot.
The business is projected to open around May 10 and hiring will begin this Tuesday. Business owner Debbie Morrison says they will have a job fair at the store Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. with the hopes of finding 10 employees.
“We’re starting from ground zero so we need some good employees,” said Debbie, who describes the store as part Big Lots, part Goodwill. She said it will have new and used merchandise.
Serenity Thrift is an offshoot of Serenity Pointe, a Dunlap-based ministry founded by Debbie and her husband Gerald seven years ago. There are Serenity Thrift stores in Dunlap, Spencer and Sparta with plans to open a store in Cookeville after the McMinnville location gets up and running.
“When we come to a town, we want to make a difference in that town,” said Debbie. “All the money will stay there. We’ve already met with one nonprofit, the Hope Center, and we plan to work with them. We are going to meet with some more organizations soon. I believe if you’re going to be asking people to give, you should be giving back.”
Debbie says Serenity Thrift will have bright blue donations boxes featuring yellow lettering. She said the donation boxes will clearly state that your donation is going to a nonprofit. She said there are several organizations which request donations that are 1) either a for-profit business, or 2) give a very tiny percentage to the charity they support.
“We’re all about changing lives and helping people,” said Debbie. “When I was a realtor, I gave it everything I had. Now that we’ve started this ministry, we’re giving it everything we have.”
Work has already been taking place at the old Hastings building to get it ready. Debbie says the interior has been painted and signs are scheduled to go up this coming week. To show they are serious about making a commitment to McMinnville, Debbie says they have signed a 10-year lease.
Debbie certainly has an effective sales pitch and I love the fact money earned from the store will stay in Warren County. When I asked her about the size of the store she said that won’t be a problem at all as the Serenity Thrift in Sparta is nearly twice that size. For more information, the website is

RadioShack is tuning out

Ever since RadioShack announced plans to close over 1,000 of its locations, there’s been speculation our beloved store at Three Star Mall would be one of those to walk the plank. That speculation has now been confirmed and our RadioShack will be closing, probably around the end of May.
Signs displayed around the store indicate “Everything Must Go!” and “Entire Store 40% to 60% Off.” Those signs are never fun to see.
While I think the RadioShack chain is quickly spiraling toward extinction, I was hoping we could keep that location under the Sprint nameplate. As some of you may know, Sprint has announced plans to increase its retail footprint by taking over more than 1,400 RadioShack stores. I had hoped this would be one of them.
I’m by no means a rabid RadioShack customer, but I did find the store handy for buying stereo-related equip-ment. I think the bigger blow comes to Three Star Mall, which has fallen into a rut of not finding new tenants once old tenants leave.
Think about how long the old Bookland location has been empty. Or how about The Cookie Shop or Claire’s. The jewelry store across from Roses has been gone for so long I can’t even remember the name of it.
This is not to knock the mall because I love the mall with all my beating heart. It’s simply stating an obvious fact: Stores leave and they aren't replaced.
Anyone want to take bets on how long the RadioShack storefront will stay empty until a new tenant is found? Let’s start the over-under at four years. Note: the editors of Business Pulse do not condone gambling.

Steve & Patti Ray have new treasure

Steve and Patti Ray are no strangers to business ventures. They have operated furniture stores, a mattress center, and even a thrift store. They’ve been a mainstay next to Village for over a decade.
But the two have decided to shift gears and go from operating a business at one of the most hectic intersections in town to operating a business among the rolling pastureland of Harrison Ferry Mountain. Their new business is called Highway 8 Furniture and Treasures and it opens today at 10 a.m.
“It’s turned into a really neat store,” said Patti, who has developed a love for repurposing furniture. “We have things for the entire family. We have stuff for the man cave and we have things for boys and girls. Lime green is a really great color for girls now. They love it. So we have some furniture that’s painted with lime green drawers that we think we be a big hit. Different colored drawers are also really popular.”
Patti says the trip to her new store is a scenic drive to undiscovered gems. The store is bursting with one-of-a-kind pieces in its 3,600 square feet of showroom space.
If you’re looking for new furniture, there are solid oak curios and solid pine log furniture. It can be purchased unfinished so you can apply your own stain and get it exactly the color you like.
“We want this to be a store where people can mill around and go through two or three times and see new things every time,” said Patti. “We’ve been working on this for so long, we built the shop from the ground up, that we’re really looking forward to opening the doors. I think it will be a great Sunday drive for families to hop in the car and come out and see us. So far the people who have seen the store have been impressed.”
Highway 8 Furniture and Treasures opens today, April 26. Regular store hours are seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The business can be reached at (423) 949-4500. It’s located roughly 16 miles outside of McMinnville about two miles past Isha.

New bakery on the rise

Now that the Farmers Market is rolling on Saturday mornings, some folks may have noticed Sheri Denning selling her delicious baked goods there. It’s part of her new business called Chuckle Monkeys.
I guess you could say Sheri is not monkeying around when it comes to her cooking. She is making cakes, cupcakes, cookies, fudge, hard candy and pies.
She is renting a space at The Atrium office complex on Morford Street and turning it into her bakery headquarters. This will be convenience a la mode when it comes time for Main Street Live because her side door opens right onto the West Lawn of Security Federal where crowds gather for lawn-chair concerts.
“We’re really looking forward to Main Street Live,” said Sheri. “Our storefront is going to be primarily for Main Street Live and for order pickups.”
The sweet treats will do more than tempt your tummy with the taste of nuts and honey. Sheri says she can make any type of cake or pie to fit your needs, even if you just want a simple cake you can scarf down in the privacy of your own home. You can order the cake during the week and then pick it up at the Farmers Market or her storefront at The Atrium.
She’s also working on getting everything set up so customers can order completely online. This new business keeps sounding better all the time.
To place an order or find out more about Chuckle Monkeys, call Sheri at 247-3286.

Unemployment inches lower

Here’s some great news folks at home. Unemployment decreased in 88 of Tennessee’s 95 counties in March. Overall state unemployment has dropped to 6.3 percent, down from 6.6 percent.
In Warren County, home of the discount tobacco shop, unemployment is 6.2 percent, down from 6.3 percent. What that means in practical terms is two more people found jobs.
The state’s lowest unemployment rate can be found in Williamson County where the rate is an amazing 3.9 percent. There is only double-digit unemployment in two Tennessee counties, with Clay County being the highest at 10.6 percent.
What this means to me is we’ve gotta get this crazy Democrat out of the White House. Oh, where are the days of George W. Bush when gasoline cost $3.79 a gallon, when Warren County unemployment was 14.1 percent, and when the Dow Jones industrial average was stuck around 7,000.

That’s all folks

May all your nights be prom nights. And may all your pizzas come with extra cheese. Phone in business tips by calling 473-2191 or emailing