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Business Cheetah 3-19
A Penney saved
JC Penney employees were giddy Friday morning upon hearing the news our local store would not be among the 138 which are closing. Pictured, from left, are Glenda Solomon, Haley Jennings, Karen Bandy, Caleb Jones and Nathalie West.

Good news rained upon Warren County like a warm shower on Friday when it was revealed which 138 stores in the JC Penney chain would be closed.
Bringing delight to the hearts of JC Penney shoppers in Warren County and beyond, our local store at Three Star Mall is not one of the stores which will be closed.
Rejoice! Cheer! Party like it’s 1999!
Just when things looked poised to descend into darkness, our JC Penney has emerged from the ashes like a great phoenix and is ready to soar to new heights. It’s alive! It’s alive!
“We’re thrilled that JC Penney is staying and we’d like to remind the whole community to shop local,” said mall manager Brook Holmes.
Added JC Penney employee Karen Bandy, “It’s exciting news this store is staying open.”
It is extremely exciting when you consider the alternative would have likely been a black hole at that end of the mall should that store been one of the 138 to close. In addition to the negative impact on the mall and on local shoppers, it would have left about 30 employees without jobs.
According to information furnished Friday by JC Penney, three of the 138 stores to close are in Tennessee. Those stores are in Knoxville, Greeneville and Union City.
According to a media release, approximately 5,000 positions nationwide will be impacted by the store closures, most of which will occur in June. JC Penney is in the process of identifying relocation opportunities within the company for esteemed leaders who really shine. Most affected stores will begin the liquidation process April 17.
Texas was especially hard hit with nine store closings, followed by Minnesota with eight.
JC Penney says these store closings will allow the company to direct its energy and resources to the locations which offer the greatest revenue potential. The store closings will also allow the company to adjust to the growing threat of online retailers, a news release said.
The editors of Business Cheetah are pleased to bring this positive news to the community and offer these words of encouragement from Dorothy. When considering places to shop, there’s no place like home.

The theory of yin and yang

There’s an ancient Chinese philosophy called yin and yang. It’s an interesting theory that addresses how opposite forces are often interconnected and complementary.
A great example of this is a last-second basketball victory. One team goes wild with excitement while the other team sinks into depression.
In keeping the yin and yang aligned in our Warren County business community, I guess it’s only natural the happiness of keeping JC Penney is opposed by the sadness of losing our John Deere dealership.
General Equipment has announced that as of this Wednesday, March 22, it will be losing its John Deere line of equipment and parts.
The business will still remain open to sell and service farm equipment, however it will be losing its John Deere tractors, mowers and four-wheelers and also losing its John Deere parts.
This news is certainly distressing and not pleasing to report.
The folks at General Equipment dropped a flyer by the office on Wednesday that told of the company’s open house way back in August of 1974. It featured a picture of owners Vernon and Shirley Keith at the top of the page and announced, “John Deere representatives will be here both Friday and Saturday to show you the newest and most modern farm equipment.”
Thanks to Vernon’s efforts, the local dealership would thrive over the years and offer the best in farm equipment, coupled with solid service after the sale. The fact John Deere has decided to leave this area is troubling, sort of like when we lost our Chevrolet dealership a few years back. It takes away one of our local options and it hurts a business that’s been a part of our community for more than 40 years.
I’ll provide more information on plans of General Equipment moving forward as that information becomes available.

Quality Mold buys more land

It’s always nice to hear about a local company buying more land. When more land is purchased, more buildings usually follow. More buildings mean more work and more product being generated. More land is typically a domino effect of better things to come.
All that being said, Quality Mold has purchased an additional 9 acres of land near its longtime location on Smithville Highway. Quality Mold officials want me to walk through this announcement very gingerly since they say there is currently no timetable for when a new building may be constructed on the property.
They say a new building is on the horizon at some point, but there’s no reason to get overly enthusiastic at this time. No new jobs are on the way.
I’m glad to hear Quality Mold is enjoying success and is eyeing expansion. Existing companies that grow and gradually add to their workforce over time are the best way to keep a local economy healthy.

Tate’s Burgers ready to grill

Joe Tate has spent years in the restaurant business working at places all over McMinnville. The savvy restaurant veteran has about nine years of experience as a manager at Sonic, and has worked at KFC, Hardee’s and Burger King too.
It’s safe to say Joe is a burger pro. And now he has his own restaurant to flaunt his culinary talents as Tate’s Burgers opened Monday on Sparta Street.
“People are coming in for the burgers,” said Joe, who has a handy, build-your-own-burger menu.
Customers get to choose their bread, their toppings, their cheese, their sauce, and their extras such as bacon, chili, salami, grilled onions, jalapeno, and more. The burger can be as simple, or as extravagant, as you desire.
Joe said one customer who came in Thursday ordered his Colorado Kid Burger, which includes an egg, ham, bacon, and cheddar cheese. It was obviously a hit.
“Before he left, he ordered one more to go,” said Joe. “And he told me he’d be back.”
Tate’s Burgers aims to please with a wide-ranging menu that includes subs, tacos, chicken, and Philly cheesesteak. He says a popular item is his dessert chimichangas which come in three different flavors – apple, strawberry cheesecake, and cherry.
I was wondering why there were dozens and dozens of potatoes around the kitchen and Joe told me it’s because they hand cut their own french fries, which make them extra delicious.
Joe says his years in the restaurant industry have led to a capable workforce. He hasn’t had any trouble finding employees.
“Most of my friends are restaurant cooks so I’m not having to do much training in the kitchen,” said Joe.
Tate’s Burgers is open seven days a week beginning at 10 a.m. each day at 1107 Sparta Street next to Scottish Inns. He stays open till 11 p.m. Monday thru Thursday, till 12:30 a.m. on Friday and Saturday, and until 10 p.m. on Sunday.
To top it all off, Tate’s Burgers delivers in the city and in the county. There is a $2 delivery charge in McMinnville and a $3 charge outside of the city. The phone number is 507-3554.

Room for a new hotel

People of all ages are trying their best to bring a new hotel to McMinnville. That’s easier said than done.
Industrial Develop-ment Board director Don Alexander said the inaugural meeting of the Hotel Exploratory Committee went well, but he doesn’t know if Warren County is any closer to landing a new hotel.
“It’s one thing to say we need a new hotel,” said Don. “I think we can all agree on that. It’s another thing to write a $7 million check to build a new hotel. It’s a big investment.”
Don said talks centered on what type of hotel chain would be embraced in Warren County. He said the consensus was the nightly room rate should not be more than $100, so that likely excludes many possibilities.
Don also said discussion indicated an 80-room hotel might work best. Operating under the blueprint that such a hotel needs an average occupancy rate of 80 percent a night, Don said that means the hotel would need to average 64 rooms rented each and every day of the year.
All this is tricky business because a new hotel demands such a significant initial investment. It has to stayed booked in order to recoup the investment.
“We’re plodding along, but it’s a slow process,” said Don.
Added IDB president Tommy Foster, “I know it’s a need here. “In talking with the nursery people, they say they’d love to keep the annual trade show here, but there are not enough places for people to stay.”
After leaving McMinnville for four years, two in Murfreesboro and two in Nashville, the nursery trade show returned to McMinnville Civic Center in 2016. A new hotel here would certainly help to cement the annual show staying in Warren County.

Odds and ends

Activity at the IDB office has been frantic over the past month, according to Don. There are several existing businesses here in our community looking to upgrade to larger facilities.
Of note is the old Simpkins Energy building located on Magness Drive near the hospital. The Simpkins Energy deal could best be described as an experiment which went horribly wrong, but things appear like they may be OK. A local business has expressed interest in locating in the vacant building.
“We have somebody who is very interested in this building and I’d be surprised if this wasn’t settled by the next board meeting,” said Don during the monthly March meeting on Thursday.
Two other vacant buildings in the county also appear on the verge of having new tenants. Of course no one like to talk until it’s all signed on the dotted lines, so I’ll report back when everything is signed, sealed and delivered.

That’s all folks

Remember, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. For this column to prosper, folks need to phone in their business tips to 473-2191.