Let's start today's business column with a simple question. What's the most important thing in your life?
Would it be your loving family? Well perhaps.
How about your friends? They might be up there too.
What about your cellphone? Bingo! That's it. The almighty cellphone has got to be the most important thing in the universe.
Are you aimless and lost when your family is not by your side for a few hours? Nah. Now think about your behavior, your paranoia, when you don't have your cellphone. It's full-blown panic mode, hysteria, bedlam.
Since we're going to have a cellphone within arm's reach every waking moment of our lives, it makes sense to have cellphone options. So without further ado, allow me to introduce the new Cricket store in McMinnville. It's located on New Smithville Highway directly across from Krystal.
The great thing about Cricket is the company is owned by AT&T so it has an immense 4G network. The local store is owned by Andy Younis, who also owns the Cricket store in Manchester next to Baskin-Robbins. Yummm, Baskin-Robbins.
Andy told me Friday that Cricket covers 98 percent of the U.S. population and virtually all of Tennessee. He says the service is spectacular. Where you'll notice a big difference is with your monthly bills.
"This is a cheaper alternative, but with all the same towers as AT&T," said Andy. "If you get a plan that costs $40 a month, what you pay is $40 a month. That's it. There's no tax. There are no other fees."
Andy says there are all kinds of great deals if you are looking to move from a non-AT&T provider to Cricket. One of the best incentives is you can get a free smartphone. And you get to keep your phone number.
If you have a big family and you're getting hammered by cellphone charges, Cricket has a plan where you can get five lines for $100. That seems like a remarkable bargain.
Since Cricket is owned by AT&T, and since AT&T has bought Direct TV, there are all types of shows you can stream to your phone. You can also get unlimited music downloads for $6 a month.
There are packages of all different shapes and sizes, too many to name in this spot. If you're interested in exploring your cellphone options, stop by Cricket to see what's available.
Store hours are Monday thru Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. The phone number is 474-4109.
Industrial activity continues
It's been over a year since Pine Hill Plastics closed in the Dibrell area. Since that time, there has been interest in the 30,000-square-foot building on Smithville Highway.
Now it appears a local business is on the verge of growing and has been in talks about buying the building.
"There is interest and it does look promising, but I'm always reluctant to say anything until it's signed on the dotted line," said Industrial Development Board director Don Alexander.
That's a wise move. I've seen my fair share of deals collapse at the last minute. I've seen deals collapse after the last minute.
What's important to take from this situation is a local industry is thriving to the point where it feels the need to move to a much larger facility. That's great news.
It's also worth mentioning that an Italian company continues to discuss plans to move to McMinnville into one of our existing buildings. These talks have been ongoing for about a year and it's starting to look like it might happen.
This is not an automotive company and it wouldn't bring dozens of jobs. But it would create a few jobs and add to the diversity of our economy.
It's time for Loooooove
It's time to snuggle up to your sweetie pie, or the Cupcake in your life, and tell her just how much you love her.
It's time to gaze deeply into her eyes and shower her with flowers, chocolates, and a foot massage. She might not want all that, but do it anyway.
Valentine's Day is less than two weeks away, which means now is the time to begin planning for your night of romance, complete with candles and music from Air Supply.
If you're looking for a unique Valentine's Day gift, which I always am, Sara Covert and her family have opened Balloonables at Three Star Mall. The business is located in the kiosk in front of the ever-popular J's Restaurant. Balloonables will be open every day during regular mall hours from now until Feb. 14.
"Anything that can fit through a 4-inch hole we can put in one of our balloons," said Sara of the business which specializes in placing stuffed animals, treats, or any object which is not sharp inside a sturdy, latex balloon.
If you want to buy a teddy bear from the Balloonables inventory, that's OK. You can also supply your own personal items to have placed inside the balloon.
"If you want to hide a diamond ring in there, that would make a nice surprise," said Sara. "The balloons make nostalgic gifts for people who remember them from the 1980s. For the younger kids who don't remember, it will still be cool."
If you'd like to provide all of your own items, the cost is $20 to put them in a decorative balloon. If you want to choose from items at Balloonables, packages are $30, $35 and $40 depending on what you get. There are five styles of balloon from which to choose.
"I'm using this as a learning experience since my kids are home-schooled," said Sara. "It teaches them how to create an inventory and expense everything out. It also teaches them they can create their own jobs. They don't always have to take one. They can be entrepreneurs."
Sara said Balloonables is an old family business. Her family used to do this decades ago, but the business has been dormant in recent years.
"When I was little, I had a cousin with a brain tumor and we would visit him at the hospital," said Sara. "The hospital gift shop had one of these machines. It's a vacuum chamber. My mom saw it and she ended up buying one. We were cleaning out the garage and we saw that we still had it so we decided to do something with it."
If you'd like to place your Valentine's Day gift inside a giant balloon, the business is open Monday thru Saturday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.
Just me and my shadow
Students take 13 years to earn a high school diploma in hopes of working toward a career they will enjoy.
In an effort to immerse local students in the workforce to get an up-close look at a job they're considering, our school system offers a job shadowing day for eighth-graders.
It's a great concept and I've taken many aspiring journalists around my beat on job shadowing day to give them a first-hand look at what I do each and every day. I agree to this only after swearing them to secrecy because I don't want word to get out about how little I do. Most of the students leave in amazement that my work day is so unproductive.
However, I don't think that's the case everywhere. Centertown student Loralye Simmons got to experience an afternoon at McMinnville Police Department as she job shadowed Lt. Nichole Mosley, an investigator.
"Being an officer is more than pulling people over and taking them to jail," said Lt. Mosley. "We are a community police force. We are here to help people. We love to get people interested in law enforcement and what it entails. And this is a career that's not just for men."
Mosley is one of three female officers at McMinnville Police Department.
Loralyn didn't get to chase down any criminals or make an arrest, but she did get to see the interview room. Unfortunately, there were no suspects being interrogated at the time.
Lt. Mosley explained how she uses a computer voice stress analyzer when talking to suspects. This is a type of lie detector that is used to determine if a person is being truthful.
"It's a tool we use in the process," said Mosley. "Based on the results, it will tell us if we think we need to dig deeper and continue to investigate that person."
At Saint Thomas River Park Hospital, employee Emily Lopez was busy giving a tour to eight students. They were treated to a visit to the Family Birthing Unit where there was a baby.
They also go to hear from Peggy Foster, a phlebotomist. Peggy is known as the vampire lady at the hospital because she draws blood all day.
"I love the patient contact," said Peggy. "I have my regulars. For people on blood thinners, I see a lot of them every week."
Emily told the group there are hundreds of jobs available within the general healthcare field and encouraged them to utilize the Tennessee Promise scholarship and local community colleges to get a jump start on their career.
"We always need people in healthcare and we certainly need nurses," said Emily.
Dibrell student Alaura Bivens watched intently as Foster demonstrated how to draw blood. Alaura said she would like to become an OB-GYN.
At Warren County High School, McMinnville Mayor Jimmy Haley was doing his day job teaching students in his economics class. The students were engaged and listening to what Mayor Haley had to say.
Job shadowing Mayor Haley was Morrison student Lindzey Hillis. She said she asked to see Mayor Haley's classroom for two reasons.
"I like politics and I'm also considering teaching," said Lindzey. "I could see myself as a high school teacher. I probably wouldn't want to teach students who are too young. I don't know if I could handle little rug rats all day."
In between teaching, Mayor Haley took time to hand out popsicles. After decades in the classroom, he says he still enjoys his job.
"Every day is like a holiday," said Haley.
That's all folks
May your Super Bowl Sunday be filled with touchdowns and celebrations. Remember to always drink responsibly.
Phone in business tips at 473-2191. My email address is email@example.com.