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Closing Main Street not embraced by all
wheel tax
Photo by Mason Jones on Unsplash

Back to The Strip organizers Mary Walker and Chris Terry addressed McMinnville officials with good and bad news about the event held last weekend.

The good news – the event generated $31,381 in monetary donations for Meals on Wheels and participation was great considering it was a rainy day.

“Our car show had 82 registrations and our 5K had a 169 registrations this year,” said Walker in her update to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen. 

The bad news – Walker did admit to having one small hiccup due to an unhappy business owner claiming she owned the sidewalk outside her business.

“We had a business owner who was not happy to have us on Main Street and blew bubbles with a bubble gun all over some very expensive cars,” said Walker.

Added Terry angrily, “And in people’s faces. Luckily they were residents of Warren County so they understand, but we also had people from Jasper, Dunlap and Murfreesboro that if they had been parked in front of Ashley’s Attic … I ‘ll tell the name of who it was because there is no need to hide anything.”

According to Terry, when he went down to address the issue, a heated confrontation ensued before he left. Although, he said next time he’d call the law.

“One of the cars she was shooting bubbles at was over a $200,000 car owned by Don Hennessee, who used to own Southern Central,” said Terry. “To my understanding, her business was originally located in the Plaza. She moved to downtown knowing that you shut the streets down for events. It’s kind of like if you buy a house beside the city dump and then complain about the smell.”

Business owner Helen Gillentine contends Terry wasn’t at all kind in his approach. The incident was captured on video and later viewed by her daughter, Ashley, who works at the store.

“While we appreciate the business and tourism that events bring to downtown and the community as a whole, unfortunately we don’t receive a lot of direct business from events like this when the streets are closed,” said Ashley. “However, we do try to participate, and, as a toy store on Main Street, we often show off our products, like our bubble wands, to people who are window shopping. Mom was not asked nicely to stop, as Mr. Terry suggests. She was ordered to stop with a raised voice from the get go. Unfortunately, tensions were high. Mom felt threatened and she responded in kind. All of us at Ashley’s Attic are very appreciative of the Meals on Wheels program and of the Back to The Strip committee’s work.”

Complaints from business owners is common with many stating that street closures negatively affect their business.