Small Business Saturday shined a spotlight on Greeneville-area merchants, and the public responded.
Last year, an estimated 104 million consumers nationwide “shopped small” on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, spending a combined $17.8 billion at independent neighborhood retailers and restaurants, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Downtown Greeneville and surrounding merchants Saturday were part of the 2019 success story.
JeanAnn Jones was looking at Christmas ornaments in the Esther & Ella Boutique at 1305 Tusculum Blvd.
Employees said business was brisk all day. Jones enjoys patronizing local merchants.
“If you’re helping the community, you’re helping yourself,” she said.
Jones also looked forward to visiting the Esther & Ella Boutique location downtown at the shops in the General Morgan Inn and Conference Center.
Janet Davis, mother of Garden Basket owner Curtis Davis, was at the counter of the florist, produce and concrete statuary shop at 1008 Tusculum Blvd. Davis said local support is important in the challenging business environment.
“It’s tough on small businesses. It’s hard to make it with these big box stores,” she said.
Over at The Burlap Bunny, 808 Tusculum Blvd., a line of customers waited to pay for merchandise
Owners Dee and Dan Sullivan are thankful for the community’s support.
The business normally opens at 10 a.m., but Dee Sullivan said The Burlap Bunny opened at 9:15 a.m. Saturday because the parking lot was already full.
“Our locals are ridiculously supportive. We love our out-of-town guests, but it’s all about the local support,” Dee Sullivan said.
Dan Sullivan said the business has 42 vendors, so many others are supported by customers of The Burlap Bunny.
“It’s all about the people. It helps support their lives,” he said. “It’s kind of a therapy for us. It’s not all about how much money we make, it’s how many people we can make happy.”
The Burlap Bunny offers a variety of “eclectic” vintage-to-modern craft items, the Sullivans said.
“If you stand over here on a daily basis, you see people come in the door and leave happy,” Dan Sullivan said.
Carol Ogelsby of Afton was shopping with three family members from Memphis, including two daughters-in-law. “Shop Small Y’All” is an annual family tradition.
“We do it every year. We try to shop local every time,” Ogelsby said.
“We love this store,” added Cheryl Barber, one of the Memphis visitors.
Holly Barber said family members look forward to Shop Small Saturday as part of the visit to Greene County.
“We always find something every year. This is one of the highlights of our Thanksgiving,” she said.
Mountain Song Jewelers, 566 Tusculum Blvd., experienced record sales Saturday.
“It’s going wonderfully. We’ve had crowds all day,” said Jonita Ashley, co-owner of the business with Richard Sherman.
Like many participants in Small Business Saturday, Mountain Song Jewelers had cookies, coffee and other snacks laid out for customers, including food supplied by other local small businesses.
“We try to do cross-promotion as much as possible,” Ashley said. “We keep the money here and it supports local folks.”
Like many participants on Small Business Saturday, Mountain Song Jewelry also “has a pretty robust social media presence” resulting in sales to customers world-wide, Ashley said.
Still, Ashley and Sherman appreciated the local show of support on Saturday.
“It’s a good turnout. There’s lots of people we haven’t seen before,” Sherman said.
While Mountain Song Jewelry opened in 2018, Broyles General Store & Garden Emporium at 730 W. Main St. has been open since 1951 in Greeneville.
James and Valerie Spurgeon, of the Ottway community, were looking at whimsical toys with nostalgic appeal.
“I’m going to buy some,” Valerie Spurgeon said as she held up a package of jacks.
“Old school. That’s what it is,” she said. “It’s very important (to shop local). It’s the backbone of our country.”
Business owner David Broyles was appreciative of the turnout.
“It’s a good crowd,” he said
Broyles coordinated the “Shop Small Y’all Scavenger Hunt,” an annual part of the local Small Business Saturday event. The Scavenger Hunt is held to provide an incentive to customers to explore the variety of local independent merchants in the Greeneville area.
Many small business shoppers Saturday said they had visited five or more local merchants.
“We’ve had a pretty good day since we opened,” Broyles said. “It’s very important to keep these local small shops going.”
Donita Huff, shopping at Broyles with her 4-year-old daughter Ryleigh, was in full agreement.
Huff, a teacher, sees firsthand how electronic devices like cellphones dominate the lives of many young people, and was looking at toys and more traditional Christmas gifts with her daughter.
“I try to shop local every chance I can,” Huff said. “I try to help out the newer (businesses) and the ones like Broyles.”
On West Depot Street, once the center of commerce for the area, all the parking spots were full.
Several businesses on the street were participants in the “Shop Small Y’all” promotion. Also drawing a crowd of curious shoppers was The Band Perry’s weekend “yard sale” in a vacant store.
Across the street, shoppers filled the Greeneville Antique Market, 117 W. Depot St.
“Gosh, there’s a lot of nice stuff, and we found businesses we didn’t even know were here,” said Nancy Wolf, who was shopping with her mother, Sue Grimm.
Both have lived for about three years in the Ottway area and were pleased to find the variety of small businesses where they could do some holiday shopping.
“It helps us know what’s here,” Wolf said.
Kate Christopher and her husband John are also newcomers to Greene County, having moved here about 18 months ago from Orlando, Florida.
“We like shopping small businesses rather than the box stores,” she said. “We just couldn’t find a better place to live than here.”
Vickie Gregory, co-owner of the Greeneville Antique Market, was elated with the volume of shoppers going from store to store on West Depot Street. She said a vibrant small business community still exists downtown.
“It’s been a great day. It’s what we wanted for downtown Greeneville, people on the street and going from place to place,” Gregory said. “The Band Perry (yard sale) is the icing on the cake. We are very thrilled.
“(Small Business Saturday) helps change the perception that West Depot Street and downtown is dead,” she said. “There are lots of businesses, and we want people to come down.”
Small Business Saturday was started in 2010 by American Express to help small businesses get more customers, according the company’s website. The event on the Saturday following Thanksgiving has since become an annual shopping tradition .
According to an independent 2018 small business economic impact study commissioned by American Express, an average of 67 cents of every dollar spent at a small business in the U.S. stays in its local community, with 44 cents of that going to the small business owner and employee wages and benefits. The remaining 23 cents gets reinvested in other local businesses.
The study also found that every dollar spent at small businesses creates an additional 50 cents in local business activity as a result of employee spending and businesses purchasing local goods and services.
Twenty-one local independent merchants participated in the “Shop Small Y’all Scavenger Hunt,” which was started and coordinated in the past by Angie Daniels Helton, whose downtown store recently closed. Broyles volunteered to help coordinate the 2019 edition.
“It’s important to support the local small business community. Otherwise, we would be all box stores and the internet if we don’t keep going,” Broyles said.
Scavenger hunt participants this year included Back Porch Antiques, Brolin & Bailey Co., Broyles General Store & Garden Emporium, The Burlap Bunny, Coffee Barrel, Creamy Cup, Emma James Boutique, Esther and Ella Boutique, The Greene House, Greeneville Antique Market, Maddie Belle’s Cottage, Mountain Song Jewelers, North Meets South, Pritchard Design, Sleep Solutions Mattress Gallery, Southern 44, Town & Country Event Rentals & Venues LLC, Towne Square Package Store Inc., Uprooted Health and Westown Florist Inc.
Plans are underway for the Town of Greeneville’s sixth annual Midnight On Main New Year’s Eve celebration.
The party, covering two blocks of Main Street downtown, will ring in 2020 and conclude the 150th anniversary of President Andrew Johnson’s return home from Washington, according to a news release from the town.
“As we reflect on a special year for our community, we also can look forward to all the good things 2020 might bring,” said organizer Amy Rose, public relations manager for the town.
Both indoor and outdoor music, dancing and food are part of the family friendly celebration, with a highlight being the ball drop and countdown to midnight fireworks. Festivities will begin at 7 p.m. that evening.
Midnight on Main has grown to four indoor venues, with the addition last year of a Kids Zone at First Presbyterian Church. Free admission to the church fellowship hall features carnival games provided by volunteers from First Christian Church.
The three founding venues of Midnight On Main – General Morgan Inn, The Capitol Theatre of Greeneville and Catalyst Coffee Company – also have plans to ring in 2020, Rose said.
Admission to the General Morgan Inn for the party package is $35 for ages 21 or older. Plans include a live performance by Ivy Road at 7 p.m., dance party led by DJ Robbie Britton at 9 p.m., hors d’oeuvres, party favors and a champagne toast.
The hotel will offer two other packages for dinner or an overnight stay. Reservations are required by calling 423-787-1000.
The Capitol Theatre is planning a party for kids with admission of $5. More details will be announced soon, organizers said.
Catalyst Coffee Company will feature “Karaoke at the Catalyst” from 7 to 8:30 p.m., followed by live music from Josh Miller, Chris Karlson and more until midnight. Admission is free. Warm food and drinks will be available.
The street dance is also returning to the event, beginning at 7 p.m. near the intersection of Main and Depot streets. Popular songs of 2019 and other dance hits will be played by Robbie Rigney, deejay and emcee with Now Event Group.
New Year’s resolutions can be made at the Resolution Station, leading up to a special ceremony by Mayor W.T. Daniels.
“Everyone who writes down a wish for 2020 can watch the mayor place those wishes inside the ball and a bucket truck raise them toward the sky,” Rose said. “As partygoers count down from 10, the lighted ball will drop, signaling the start of the new year and a spectacular fireworks show above Main and Depot.”
The public is reminded that alcoholic beverages will not be allowed on the street during the event.
Sponsors of Midnight On Main are Waste Industries, The General Morgan Inn, The Capitol Theatre, ArtaZn (formerly Jarden Zinc), John Deere Power Products, Gosnell’s Stereo & Music, Popcorn Video and Alliance AutoGas.
For more information about Midnight On Main, visit the Town of Greeneville’s website, www.greenevilletn.gov.
A large metal-frame garage was destroyed by fire Sunday afternoon at 132 Browning Road in Limestone.
No injures were reported. Firefighters from Limestone, Nolichuckey, Jonesborough and Embreeville, assisted by Washington County-Johnson City EMS, responded to the fire about 3:10 p.m. Sunday.
EMS has a crew at the Limestone fire station and personnel drove a fire engine to the scene. Firefighters arrived soon afterward, Limestone firefighter Tim Jaynes said.
The 60-by-40 foot structure was fully engulfed when firefighters arrived. The blaze destroyed a truck, motorcycle and welding equipment inside the building, Jaynes said.
Steady winds enabled the fire to spread quickly, he said.
Firefighters were able to save a house only three feet from the garage. The siding and entrance had some heat damage, along with some smoke damage, but the house remained intact, Jaynes said.
Jaynes said a cooperative agreement entered into earlier this year with Washington County-Johnson City EMS that allows EMS crews already at the station to get to a fire scene right away with an engine saved valuable time in attacking the fire.
“It was a quick response due to our partnership,” Jaynes said. “It makes a huge impact. We can meet them there and it saves time.”
Tim Helms is the property owner. Neighbors initially reported that Helms was in the building, but he was not, Jaynes said.
The cause and origin of the fire remains under investigation. Helms was welding outside the building earlier Sunday, Jaynes said.
Damage to the garage and contents is estimated at $120,000.
The Tusculum Volunteer Fire Department provided coverage of the Limestone and Nolichuckey fire districts during the structure fire.
Also on scene were the Limestone Volunteer Fire Corps Rehab Unit and Washington County sheriff’s deputies.
Firefighters remained on scene mopping up hot spots until about 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Jaynes said.
The fire was about two miles from Erwin Highway in Washington County.