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Business Pulse 5-10-15
Debbie and Gerald Morrison stand by the thousands of items of used clothing available at Serenity Thrift, which opens Monday at the old Hastings location. Said Debbie, If I wont put it on my own body, I wont sell it.

Forget the glory of Mothers Day for a moment and allow the true wonder of today to sink in. On this very day, just a few short years ago, I made my way down the birth canal of life and entered this great world of ours.
Yes, today is my birthday, a day that’s routinely overshadowed because it so often falls on Mothers Day. This has caused me, maybe subconsciously at least, to hold a little resentment for Mothers Day.
On a day when I should be lavished with gifts and gratitude, people are instead showering all their attention on mom. It’s like sharing your birthday with Christmas, or sharing your first kiss with your cousin.
The way I figure it, my birthday should take priority over Mothers Day. If you follow my logic, it goes like this. There are millions of mamas all across this great nation of ours. Yet there’s only one me. That makes me more special and thus more deserving of 24-hour pampering.
In honor of my birthday, which should really take top billing over this nefarious Mothers Day, I have included for your viewing pleasure the earliest picture I have of myself at a suckling 3 months old. I really haven’t changed much over the years except for the fact I look slightly older and still have a few more years before I return to using diapers.

Tennessee ranks No. 4

Before I jump into today’s local business news with both feet, I stumbled upon a report on Friday that caught my attention. Tennessee was ranked No. 4 in the category of Best States in the U.S. for Business.
The report was released Friday by Chief Executive’s magazine and was based on surveys of 511 CEOs across the U.S. The following factors were considered: taxes and regulations, quality of workforce, and living environment (which includes quality of education, cost of living, affordable housing, social amenities and crime rates).
Texas ranked No. 1, followed by Florida, North Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia. California ranked last in the survey, followed by New York, Illinois, New Jersey and Massachusetts. CEOs gave these states the lowest ratings because of their high tax rates and regulatory environments. Said one CEO, “The good states ask what they can do for you. The bad states ask what they can get from you.”

Serenity Thrift opens Monday

After two years of solitude, the old Hastings building has sprung back to life with the arrival of Serenity Thrift. The business opens Monday with a wide selection of used clothing and an assortment of new items too. Store hours are 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday thru Saturday.
Serenity Thrift was founded by Gerald and Debbie Morrison, who operate similar stores in Dunlap and Sparta. They have signed a 10-year lease.
“So far we’ve given 10 people jobs from right here in this community and that’s what this is about, giving back,” said Debbie. “We might hire a few more but I’m not sure what we’ll need because we don’t have another store this size.”
Thrift stores are frequently associated with clothing and Serenity Thrift has racks full of clothing for the entire family. Debbie says it’s quality merchandise.
“We’re picky as far as what we put out,” said Debbie. “It doesn’t have holes, it doesn’t have stains, and it doesn’t smell. If I won’t put it on my own body, I won’t sell it.”
Debbie says store employees will put out around 1,000 new clothing items a day. She says this is because most thrift store shoppers are regular customers who want to see the merchandise refreshed.
As for new items there are kitchen supplies, socks, underwear, cleaning products, mattresses and more.
“We sell our new mattresses for less than anybody,” said Debbie. “I consider that as part of our ministry. For people who need a new mattress and don’t have the money, this is something we should do.”
One thing that has yet to materialize is local donations. Debbie says that’s essential to keep the store operational. She said all money made from the store will stay in Warren County, which is unlike many other nonprofits. For anyone who wants to make a donation, there’s a drop-off entrance at the front of the store. There are also blue collection boxes around town.
“If we’re asking people to donate to us, it’s only right to give back and that’s what we’re going to do,” said Debbie. She said Serenity Thrift has already made a huge commitment to this community, spending about $50,000 to get the building ready.
While the store opens Monday, a grand opening celebration will take place this Thursday at 9 a.m.

Tiger Lily renovations

I was asked last week if Tiger Lily Florist was closing because of the pieces of plywood over its windows. The business isn’t closing at all. In fact, it’s getting bigger, better and more attractive.
When I stopped by Friday, both front windows were gone. Business and property owner Kevin Burnett was working on removing the awning.
Kevin said aesthetic changes are coming to the front of the store, including stacked stone to give it a high-end look. Probably more importantly, the store is going to be adding a boutique to complement its flowers. The boutique will include boots, jeans and other clothing items. There will also be more jewelry.
These are exciting developments in the world of Tiger Lily Florist, soon to be Tiger Lily Boutique. The changes are expected to take place in July. Just thought I’d pass the news along now so you can allow your hopes to escalate.

Treat your doggie’s tummy

If you’re a dog owner, chances are you love your dog. You have to because the neighbors sure don’t.
I’ve been on both sides of this fence and always wanted to treat my dog right when I owned one. It’s with that in mind Teresa Snook has opened a business called No Bones Bout It that specializes in healthy pet treats. Her first day was Wednesday.
“I have five different varieties of all-natural dog treats,” said Teresa. “I make everything myself and use the best ingredients possible. I grow my own vegetables myself, I buy the honey locally and the eggs. I don’t go out and kill the chickens, I don’t go that far, but I make all my own broths and cook all my meat. There are no preservatives.”
There are five different dog treats offered.
Bite Right – This is a grain-free chew full of vitamins and antioxidants made with a sweet potato base.
Oldie But Goodie – This is a soft treat for older dogs with dental issues. It’s made with real chicken and is high in protein.
Flea From Me – Contains brewer’s yeast and garlic to deter fleas
Skin So Soft – Made with coconut oil, all-natural peanut butter and honey
Bone Gone – Basic dog biscuit with touch of parsley to help with bad breath.
In all my years of reporting business news, I’ve never featured someone who makes their own dog biscuits so this is a Business Pulse first.
“I was burnt out after 27 years as a nurse so I was looking for something I would really like to do,” said Teresa. “I’ve always liked to cook, but it seems there are several bakeries and I don’t think there’s anyone else who is doing this.”
She sells her dog treats in small, medium and large sizes and none of the sizes cost over $3. She can be contacted by cellphone at (615) 631-0957 or you can order online at

Sylvan Center offers learning

The Sylvan Learning Center has expanded into McMinnville and is offering classes at a satellite location at the Chamber of Commerce.
The first week-long course was held last week and gave local children the chance to learn about robotics. The children were able to put their ideas to the test with working, moveable robots made from Legos.
If you missed the first class, that’s OK. A full schedule awaits this summer with the next week-long course beginning June 1 with four courses scheduled for June.
“This is a great way to supplement your child’s education,” said Sylvan representative Vanessa Hillis.
Sylvan features a STEM-based curriculum, which stands for science, technology, engineering and math. It’s been said a STEM-educated workforce is crucial for the United States to remain competitive in the 21st century because robots are doing so many manufacturing tasks. What’s in demand are employees who can program and repair the robots.
According to Georgetown University, STEM-related occupations are among the fastest growing fields in our economy. It’s the reason Mechatronics courses are so valuable at Motlow and Warren County High School.
According to Sylvan, the time to begin addressing STEM skills is at an early age. That’s why classes are offered for children as young as pre-K.
Chamber president Mandy Eller says she’s glad Sylvan was able to open a satellite office in McMinnville and believes the partnership is going to be great for the community. I say anything that gives our high-achieving students another outlet to blossom is certainly welcome.
As for Sylvan Learning, it’s a well-respected name in supplemental education. The company has over 35 years of experience and more than 800 locations.
To find out more about Sylvan and its satellite office in McMinnville, call (931) 528-2543 or visit

Faster Internet is coming

It was about six weeks ago I told you about Ben Lomand Connect and its grand plan to increase Internet speeds in Westwood, a neighborhood with about 500 homes.
One of the first steps toward that goal came Wednesday when a new communication switch was lowered into an empty lot on Westwood 6th Avenue. A heavy-duty crane was used to set the 24,000-pound building in place.
I talked to Ben Lomand CEO Ray Cantrell on Friday and he told me the project is still several months out before the first homes get faster Internet capabilities.
“We’re going to start back on Indian Mound Drive and work our way back toward the bridge,” said Ray, who estimated it will probably be September before the first customers are connected.
The upgrade will make McMinnville, especially Westwood, a gigabyte city because it will provide fiber optics and increase the data transmission speeds by one gigabyte – 100 times the speed of a typical broadband connection. Ray says national studies have shown having this type of Internet speed increases a home’s value by $4,000 to $7,000, depending on location.
As for concerns the box won’t be pleasing to look at for passing motorists, Ray said Ben Lomand employees are certainly taking that into consideration. There are a number of options under consideration including a stone look, a wall, and nice landscaping.

That’s all folks

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