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Business Cheetah 3-5
Fate of local JC Penney up in air
Jude Hines, left, and Beckham Scott put paint to canvas at Dodies Painting Studio. The business is a great place for kids, church groups, or senior citizens to tap into their creativity. The phone number is 474-8922.

There are all sorts of popular charms that are touted as a sign of good fortune.
The most common that comes to mind is a four-leaf clover, an ancient Irish symbol of luck. Horseshoes are another well-known object said to unlock mystical mojo. According to legend, the devil would stay away from any home with a horseshoe placed over the door.
A rainbow, rabbit’s foot, and even a penny found on the street are all said to lure blessings to the beholder. But the way inflation seems to be going, I don’t know if there’s anyone out there who will go to the trouble of bending over just for one penny.
I say all this because McMinnville and Three Star Mall are going to need all the luck they can get in order to keep our JC Penney. The clothing chain has announced it will close between 130 and 140 of its stores, which amounts to 13-14 percent of its retail locations.
The list of stores to be closed will be announced in mid-March. So far there is no indication of the fate of our local store.
“All I know is what was in the press release,” said McMinnville store manager Eddie Dawes. “You can go to the website for all the latest updates.”
Eddie wasn’t trying to be elusive. I don’t think he has been given any type of guidance about what to expect, good or bad, from this mid-March announcement. Eddie did say the process would work quickly for the doomed stores. They will be shuttered by the end of the second quarter, which is July 31 for JC Penney.
Three Star Mall manager Brook Holmes would be a person to contact if JC Penney is looking to close and terminate its lease early. Brook said she has no information about the store’s future.
“Put us on the prayer list,” said JC Penney employee Patsy Davidson. “This store doesn’t need to close. I still have two or three more years to work.”
JC Penney has a rich history in McMinnville as it operated at two different downtown locations before moving to the mall. JC Penney signed its first lease at the mall in mid-1979 when the mall was still under construction. It was one of the mall’s original stores, opening there in 1981.
Despite the chain’s struggles, the JC Penney nationwide store count has remained steady. It was at an all-time high of 1,108 stores in 2009 and was only down slightly to 1,021 stores as of 2016.
Our store employs right at 30 people, according to Dawes.
As a proud JC Penney customer, I’m certainly keeping my fingers crossed the store stays open. If the store were to close, it would be like a body slam for the mall. It would be like an elbow drop, a rake to the eyes, or any other wrestling move which inflicts pain.
To state it plainly, the mall struggles to replace stores once they leave. Bookland left in April 2008 and the spot is still vacant nearly nine years later. It seems nine years is ample time to find a replacement.
To our local JC Penney store and its employees, I wish you good luck. May the Force be with you.

Awaken your inner artist

There’s a new outlet for creativity in downtown McMinnville. It’s Dodie’s Painting Studio, which opens Friday, March 17 on N. Spring Street.
The business is owned by Jennifer Hines and can accommodate 28 people at once. She sees it as a place for people of all ages, from toddlers all the way up to senior citizens.
“I have some classes scheduled, but there will also be time when you can paint independently,” said Jennifer. “I realize everyone is different. Some people will like the structure of a class while others like to do their own thing.”
There are three different mediums which can be decorated – pottery, wood and canvas.
The pottery pieces have already been made. The artist will get to design their own glaze, then the item will be fired in a kiln and be available to be picked up later.
There are several pre-cut wooden designs in which to paint.
Jennifer said she got the business idea from her husband’s grandmother, Glendora “Dodie” Hines. A longtime artist, she’s 94 and now resting comfortably in an assisted living facility.
“Her kiln was passed down to us so we were looking for something to do with it,” said Jennifer.
She expects to open with afternoon and evening hours, being open Monday thru Friday from 1 to 7 p.m., and on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. However, she says those hours are subject to change.
She says a church group of senior citizens may want to come during the week at 10 a.m. She will modify her hours as demand dictates. The facility is also available to rent for birthday parties or other occasions like a girls night out.
Jennifer says her prices will be by the piece and be in the $10 to $30 range.
“I want it to be affordably priced so people can come again and again,” said Jennifer. “I don’t want them to come once and that be the end of it.”
The business can be reached at 474-8922.

The doctor is eyeing retirement

In this day where there’s medicine for every ailment, Dr. Ray Troop wants a pill to tell him where all the time has gone.
“I’m 75 years old and it all happened so fast,” said Dr. Troop. “I remember my teenage years, playing football in the Clinic Bowl. Now all of the sudden I’m an old-timer.”
Full of insight and stories from a more than 50-year medical career, Dr. Troop has announced his retirement. He will continue seeing patients through April.
Talking to Dr. Troop on Friday, I gained a great glimpse into the way things used to be for doctors, who were once on call night and day. In the early 1970s, Dr. Troop said all the local doctors were on call to man the hospital emergency room. He said this usually meant sitting close to a phone.
“The first big breakthrough was getting a pager,” said Dr. Troop. “Back in those days, the pager would just beep to let you know you had a call. You’d have to call a dispatcher and they’d give you the number to call. Then it got to the point where the pager would give you the number to call and that was really big. Then we got the bulky bag phones and it went from there.”
Dr. Troop said constantly being on call was a social drain.
“It really hurt your quality of life. I’d get two to three calls a night. I ended up handling some stuff that right now I would never consider doing. Back then doctors had to do it all, sort of a jack of all trades. I delivered close to 400 babies, did some minor surgery, anything that needed to be done. That would never happen today. Nowadays even childbirth is planned with a number of mothers medically induced. It’s convenient to have a baby on a Friday afternoon as opposed to waking up and driving to the hospital in the middle of the night.”
Dr. Troop said his first experience with patients came in 1965 while he was a medical student. He said he and another student were in charge of the ER at a West Memphis hospital.
“To think two medical students covered the entire ER is really pretty crazy,” said Dr. Troop. “We’d make 35 cents an hour during the week and 45 cents an hour on weekends.”
He first began practicing in McMinnville in 1970 when he partnered with Dr. Smoot at the old medical clinic on Main Street. He wasn’t there long because the clinic closed when the new hospital opened on Sparta Street. Coincidentally, that hospital was just demolished.
Back in those days Dr. Troop said an office visit cost $3. A trip to the ER was $12. Medicare, just enacted in 1966, was still in its infancy.
Dr. Troop says he still has a couple patients he’s been seeing since 1971 or ’72. In addition to forming a bond with some of his longtime patients, Dr. Troop said he’s been a partner with Dr. Jack Jacobs for 40 years and they have a special friendship.
As for what is ahead in his retirement, Dr. Troop says he has a 60-head cattle operation to keep him busy. He and his wife Betty, both musicians, play in the Cookeville Community Folk Orchestra. Dr. Troops plays guitar and piano, while Betty plays fiddle and piano. He’s also on the board of directors for Ben Lomand Connect, a position he’s held for more than 25 years.
Dr. Troops says he’s particularly fond of the Mark Twain quote, “I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.” Dr. Troop says that quote serves as a reminder for him to not worry so much.
The editors of Business Cheetah wish Dr. Troop the best in his retirement. May your happiness be genuine and not medically induced.

New tea room is brewing

There’s a sign on a window at the old Walling Arcade that says Kimmi’s Tea Room is on the way. Curious about this development, I chatted with property owner Joyce Cooper.
Joyce told me Friday there are in fact plans for a tea room and coffee shop at her downtown property on N. Spring Street. However, she added the plans are not finalized with the tenants who are looking to lease that space.
Also, any tea room is likely months away because the storefront needs to be finished.
Joyce did say the plans are for a snazzy coffee shop with homemade breads and tasty pastries. Yum, yum, yum! There will also be a lunch menu.
I’ll try to provide more information about this new downtown restaurant as it becomes available. As it stands, the plans are preliminary and subject to change.

Isha makes Worldwide list

I’m not exactly sure why Warren County attractions are suddenly appearing on worldwide lists with regularity. I have two theories.
Theory No. 1 – Warren County is finally getting in gear. Events like Bluegrass Underground and places like Isha and Rock Island State Park are worthy of being mentioned among the top spots anywhere.
Theory No. 2 – With a 24-7 news cycles and so many online outlets demanding content, we’re being mentioned more often, but so is everyone else.
I’m choosing to side with Theory No. 1. This comes after The Isha Institute of Inner Sciences atop Harrison Ferry Mountain has made a list from Travel and Leisure magazine. The list names 17 life-changing spiritual retreats around the world.
In including Isha on its list, the magazine said it “offers both personal wellness retreats and organized meditation or yoga programs inside an enormous golden dome. Try their signature Inner Engineering program devised by leader Jaggi Vasudev. There are seven waterfalls and beautiful trails on the premises, so you’ll want to bring hiking shoes (mountain bike if you can swing it).”
Getting positive PR like this is only going to serve to bring more people to Isha and more tourism dollars to Warren County. Isha officials say they have attracted as many as 40,000 visitors in one year. That's strong.
With any luck, those visitors will soon get to stay in a fabulous, new hotel.

That’s all folks

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