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Local businesses eager to see customers return
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The pandemic was a first for Earl and Hazel Barr, who have been in the furniture and furnishings business for 57 years at Barr’s Furniture on Beersheba Highway.
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Kathryn Carden shows off some of the items available at Tiger Lily Boutique which plans to be back to normal business hours June 1. - photo by Jennifer Woods

Now that it’s been a couple of months, people are starting to become stir crazy and are itching to get out of the house. That mixed with concerns over what state the economy is in has led  governors to take matters into their own hands.

Many states have announced the end of their stay-at-home orders and put out the open sign. Tennessee is ranked No. 3 on a list of most “open for business” states according to

The stay-at-home order for Tennessee expired April 30, giving way to most counties opening up their state parks, gyms, restaurant dining, retail stores, salons and barbershops to 50% capacity. In hopes of keeping the virus at bay, the state has administered 354,013 COVID-19 tests. The federal government has determined the more testing states give out, the more ready they are to open for business.

Barr’s Furniture has served thousands of families in Middle Tennessee since 1963. In their 19,000-square-foot showroom in Mt. Leo the store offers a variety of fine home furnishings that range from La-Z-Boy seating, mattresses, bedroom and dining room furniture, lamps and accessories. 

Earl and Hazel Barr were closed but available from March through May 15. “We would be here in case someone called the store,” said Hazel. She advises everyone to stay positive and be patient.

When asked how it felt to be back open Hazel shared, “We are eager to serve our customers with a grateful attitude for their business. We are very thankful for continued support from our community for our local businesses.” They are having a spring cleaning sale and plan on more special sales events to boost business and keep inventory fresh.

Billy Foutch has been in the restaurant business for 60 years. He is the owner of Foutch’s Family Restaurant on Sparta Street. After a month of being closed, he offered curbside pick-up. He is currently following state guidelines of 50% occupancy and keeping diners six feet apart. Foutch’s thought about being closed was, “There was nothing you could do about it and bills still go on.”

Now the pandemic has affected meat supplies. “I have never seen hamburger meat this high. It’s hard to get now. Normally we would have one person to purchase from and now it’s several,” said Foutch. Nonetheless, he is upbeat about going back to normal June 1. “I appreciate everybody’s business. Our community has been good to me over the years.”

Kari Burnett and daughters Kathryn Carden and Katelyn Wortman are the owners of Tiger Lily Boutique located on Smithville Highway. The business started out as a florist in 2014 and switched to offering women’s clothing, accessories, gifts and home décor items in 2015.

“Adjusting to the new normal was not as difficult as we first had thought it would be. Our customers are absolutely amazing and they have worked with us and supported us in every possible way,” said Kari Burnett. 

“With the tougher restrictions regarding being open, we utilized social media more, encouraged online sales, and began weekly live events on Facebook. It gave us an opportunity to interact with our customers and maintain those relationships that are so important to a small business. We also offered delivery and free shipping.” 

The Facebook events were such a success they will continue every Thursday evening where customers can win prizes.

Burnett shared, “We love being able to reopen even with the limited hours. The first day customers were allowed to come in, we had a really great day. The customers were smiling and seemed to really enjoy being able to get out and look around and just to have conversation and enjoy that human interaction.  I know we missed seeing our customers and are so thankful they are able to shop inside our store again.”

The financial impact is concerning for any small business. “I have been encouraged however by our wonderful customers and the people of Warren County,” said Burnett. “We could never say thank you enough for the continued support!” 

Tiger Lily plans to resume normal business hours beginning June 1 and bring back their part-time employees soon.

“Remember to take care of each other and great things will always come back to you -- even through tough times,” stated Burnett.