Bearden businesses change, parks offer escape and people do notable things in 2020
John Shearer, Shopper News
It was a memorable 2020 in the Bearden area, as numerous businesses managed to open amid the pandemic, and quite a few residents were able to continue making supportive contributions to the community.
Among the business items, early in the year, old 76 gas stations signs reflective of a corporate change had started appearing at convenience stories on Northshore Drive and Kingston Pike for the first time in decades.
Yoga Six studio opened a boutique-style studio in late January in Brookview Centre Way, while that same month the Golden Roast coffee shop opened off Sutherland Avenue in an old United Methodist church in Marble City.
Aladdin’s Café also opened at 7025 Kingston Pike near West Hills. Owner Al Albanna had formerly operated a similar café on North Central Street.
Also in the winter, Outdoor Gear Revival opened at 5816 Kingston Pike across from Food City, as did the Hilton Garden Inn on Papermill Drive where a mid-century motel had been.
Coldwell Banker Wallace & Wallace changed its name to the simpler Coldwell Banker Wallace and did some other rebranding.
Naf Naf Middle Eastern Grill at 126 N. Cedar Bluff Road opened right after the coronavirus shutdown began.
Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center was celebrating its centennial throughout the year, and experienced more history dealing with the major coronavirus outbreak.
In early April, Ashe’s Wine and Spirits in Bearden celebrated its 30th anniversary, while longtime proprietor Thad Cox Sr. also penned a book with retired News Sentinel cartoonist Charlie Daniel and University of Tennessee professor Tricia Hedinger regarding his success at overcoming stuttering.
Farm Fresh Produce stand on Sutherland Avenue was profiled as it was trying to survive amid the pandemic, while heirloom jewelry maker Jessi Wacker and potter Lacey Sutton opened Whimsy and a Dream studio and shop at 2608 Sutherland Ave.
Businesses adapt to pandemic
As the pandemic wore on into the summer months, a number of businesses were featured regarding how they had reinvented themselves. One was Dianna Glandon’s Above the Rest balloon and design business, while another was the new Batch artisanal baked goods.
Thomas Tuning and Service near Pellissippi Parkway opened in late spring, specializing in repairing European cars. The Downtown Grill & Brewery on South Gay Street did some renovation work and was highlighted in June, while Jim McNutt’s Woodstream Hardwoods & Building Specialties store was celebrating its 45th anniversary.
As the year progressed, The Long Run, featuring stylish jogging ware, opened at 2452 Sutherland Ave., and Taqueria La Herradura Mexican eatery opened in the former Chick-fil-A double drive-through at 7063 Kingston Pike.
Pokeworks, which had an eatery in the Shops at Western Plaza, announced plans to open a second location on Cedar Bluff Road.
The Burgers on Sutherland Avenue became Emma’s Southern Kitchen, while the Carolina Hemp Company store opened at 5201 Kingston Pike.
Sequoyah Hills resident Kate Seamons opened Rainy Day Boxes business online to help those suffering from grief, while Whimsy Cookie Company opened near Mercedes Place late in the year. Also, the S&S Cafeteria across the street opened a new to-go shop with a separate entrance.
History and new books
Former Naples Italian Restaurant owners Bob and Becky Luper were profiled in February on a new cookbook they had put together, and he also reflected later in the year on having attended Bearden High 50 years earlier. Dennis Owen, Ed Nicholson and Jenny Lynn McNutt were interviewed in the summer about their memories of graduating from West High 50 years earlier.
Church Street United Methodist Church member Dr. Dwight Wade Jr. of Bearden wrote a coffee table history book on the church and was profiled. Another story highlighted the Rev. Catherine C. Nance, the first woman senior pastor in the church’s long history.
Other books published during the year included “Historic Bearden” by Jack Neely and Paul James; “Forgotten Angels,” which was about Black nurses during the Civil War, by retired News Sentinel editor Jack McElroy and his daughter, Kalinda Page; and a book about the old Fort Sanders Civil War site and its exact location by Terry and Charles Faulkner.
Among neighborhood news, some of the new and remodeled homes in Sequoyah Hills were featured in June, while a story on the historic Knollwood mansion on top of Bearden Hill appeared in July.
The West Hills neighborhood dedicated its long-awaited sidewalk on Sheffield Drive in late September.
Parks offer escape
A greenway series during the year highlighted the Third Creek Greenway, and such parks as Sequoyah Hills, Whitlow-Logan, Forest Heights, Westwood, West View, Buck Toms, and Tyson. Tom McAdams later pointed out that Whitlow-Logan Park had been named after real estate developer Nicholas Ernest Logan and his civic volunteer wife, Mrs. Henry Whitlow Steptoe Logan.
Lakeshore Park’s new HGTV Overlook opened during the spring, giving those wanting to get out and get some fresh air amid the pandemic a new feature in the popular park.
The small Everly Brothers Park was also highlighted in July after some new ground stone plaques were installed with quotes from famous musicians who had been positively touched by the Everly Brothers. Among them were Paul McCartney, Elton John, Graham Nash and Carole King.
Such West Knoxville residents as Mary Bailey Sharp Oakes and Flossie McNabb Sonneland remembered attending the historic Camp Nakanawa in Crossville 100 years after it had opened.
Bearden Elementary teacher Beth Brewington was named the school’s teacher of the year. West High’s all-girl valedictorian class of Lucy Page, Iris Zaretzki and Reed Cooper were profiled in late April, while Bearden valedictorian Samaya Baljepally was featured in May. Also, Bearden High graduate Christiane Alvarez was interviewed after being named a prestigious Haslam Scholar at UT.
New student body presidents Ellie Raulston at Bearden and Marley Townsend at West were also profiled during the fall.
The history of the old and closed Currier School in Rocky Hill was remembered following a May fire that leveled it.
In July, new Knoxville Adaptive Education Center principal Ashley Ketner was profiled.
In the fall, Marty Sonnenfeldt was interviewed on his return as West cross country coach. Other sports news included West High’s football team reaching the third round of the playoffs, and state championships by the Christian Academy of Knoxville boys golf team and the Webb boys’ cross country team.
Among the other Bearden residents profiled was Lynne Fugate of Bearden regarding her role as both CEO of the Girl Scout Council of the Southern Appalachians and as a newly elected member of the Knoxville City Council.
Also highlighted were Anne Crais of West Hills, who was named Good Neighbor of the Year; 12-year-old Luke Akard, who had hiked with his father, Kevin, all 900 miles of trails in the Smokies; former Bearden High football coach Jim Smelcher; former Tennessee football star Bobby Scott; and comedian Leanne Morgan, who recalled serving as grand marshal of the 2014 Rocky Hill Christmas Parade.
The 50th anniversary of the famous Billy Graham crusade at UT’s Neyland Stadium was remembered through the recollections of several West Knoxville residents, including A.C. Masingill, Susan Overton and Dr. Allison Ensor.
On the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote, the Ossoli Circle looked at its roots, having supported that cause.
A challenging year is met with grace, humor and ingenuity in North Knox
Carol Z. Shane, Shopper News
In this very strange year of 2020, those who live in the North and East parts of Knoxville rose to meet challenges with characteristic creativity, compassion and can-do spirit. Not to mention quite a few chuckles.
Mask makers stepped up
In July, Central High School rising junior Madeline Belew said, “When school was canceled, I had a bunch of free time, so I decided to use it learning something new that would help other people.” Namely, mask making. At the time, she was at 300 and counting, all made and delivered for free.
Amanda Irizarry, who with her husband, Bryan Bates, owns and runs The Shutter Bird Photo Camper, started a new business: The Shutter Bird Mask Co. She’s shipped masks and accessories all over the country. “I’m thankful that my family and I have not been seriously affected by COVID-19. I would feel selfish not to use my skills to help others out there.”
Jennifer Overholser, who runs Jordan’s Gems on Etsy.com, started her mask-supply venture by researching the patterns and trying them out. She then called the East Tennessee Children’s Hospital, who requested masks with filters. “I couldn’t find a pattern, so I did it myself.”
The response was overwhelming. “I didn’t even understand how big the need was. That’s when I called in the troops. That’s when it went from ‘Hey, I need to help my family’ to ‘Hey, the whole world needs help.’”
Nonprofits adjust to the times
The Shora Foundation, founded in 2008 by Tanika Harper “to elevate education, enhance experiences, shift mindsets, empower generations and increase opportunities” for children and teens, kept on doing just that during the early days of the pandemic.
“We are actually delivering educational resources and groceries to our families,” said Harper in April. “One of our main concerns is food security. Knox County Schools are doing the best they can, but some of the kids don’t have transportation to get to school. It’s our responsibility to know that not only are the kids eating but their parents, their brothers and sisters.”
Shora’s partners include Young Life, Community Evangelistic Church, Hope Resource Center, the Knox County Health Department, Eternal Life Harvest and Hope Fellowship Church.
More than 1,500 children ages 5-12 received new shoes and school supplies through the Knoxville Area Urban League’s (KAUL) 18th Annual Shoes for School in August.
With support from the Tennessee Valley Authority, Covenant Health and community sponsors, the vital program occurred this year in “takeout” form.
“We could not let a pandemic stop us from giving schoolchildren the help they need,” KAUL President and CEO Phyllis Y. Nichols said. “Our organization will coordinate pickup or delivery to ensure kids get their shoes and school supplies before school opens.”
The YWCA Phyllis Wheatley Center was all set to celebrate its 100th anniversary with a big gala. With those plans derailed, Executive Director Monica Smith-Albright and her staff stepped up in September with a new Virtual Home Away from Home Program for Knox County middle- and high school remote learners.
Volunteers from Maryville-based construction company Clayton — longtime supporters of the YWCA — gave their time and efforts to renovate a long-standing modular classroom to the rear of the PWC. Office Furniture Outfitters on Grand Avenue donated tables and chairs.
With 2,000 square feet of extra space, snacks and lunch, and Wi-Fi and PWC staff support for virtual learning, students to have a place to go when their parents are at work, solving a multitude of problems that families may be facing during this uncertain time.
Creativity in the marketplace, at home, in love, on the air
Monica Lauber’s customers at The Village Mercantile have always looked out for each other, but in May she noticed they were becoming “far more generous.”
Lauber had encouraged a homeless man to come by the store for something to eat; a nearby customer noticed and kicked in $10, saying, “I want you to take this to cover what she just gave him.” And then, said staffer Deniser Potts, “things started to snowball” — from the Feed a Friend jar to customers prepaying for unknown others, to lunch program workers bringing leftovers — even to one devoted customer who regularly delivered homemade soup directly from his stovetop.
“Things like that are always happening,” says Lauber. “I think stress and unusual circumstances make people more of what they already are. So if they were grouchy, they’re more grouchy than ever, and if they were kind they’re more kind than ever. Fortunately, most of the people I see around here are on the kind side of things.”
On the lighter side
Elizabeth Hansen and William Turkington held a drive-by “Love in the Time of Corona” wedding in Hansen’s sister’s Old North Knoxville yard. And Jairus and Samantha Reed first met each other, got engaged, and eventually got married by “The Oarsman” sculpture at the corner of Church and Gay Streets downtown. The immediate family stood next to the couple but still far apart, with friends and family on the sidewalk across the street.
“The Oarsman” had the best seat in the house.
Parkridge residents decided in this politically acrimonious time that the best thing to do would be to go out on their front porches and throw things at each other — water balloons, that is, in the heat of summer. “This was actually my 5-year-old daughter’s idea,” said Joshua Peterson, Parkridge resident and artistic director of River & Rail Theatre Company.
Rob and Rachel Travis of North Hills started a radio station, “Rawkous Radio,” because “We think live radio creates community. Our tagline is ‘Tune In Together.’” And venerated local civil rights icon, author, columnist, former executive director of the Beck Cultural Center, Tennessee state representative and Knoxville City Councilman Bob Booker got so jazzed by seeing “amateurs singing from balconies” in order to lift pandemic spirits, he called up Joe Armstrong of WJBE and asked for a radio show. Which he got, and still has. “I’m having the time of my life!”
Here’s to the indomitable spirit of Northeast Knoxvillians!
South Knox stories of 2020, businesses and ventures keep ticking
Ali James, Shopper News
Keeping up with the ups and downs of 2020 was tricky. No sooner did a story run that things changed again. The Shopper News checked back on some of the top stories this year.
South Press Coffee gets a jolt on TikTok
Joslynn Fish opened her coffee shop/event venue in September. “We had a really slow week. I had too much time on my hands and posted a TikTok,” she said. “I thought it would be funny, but I had never tried to go viral. I have 27,000 followers now and well over 250,000 likes.”
People just show up, driving from Kentucky, Georgia and Virginia. “One day a man and his sons came in. They were excited to pick out their mugs for hot cocoa, and we put everything a kid could want — marshmallows and sprinkles,” said Fish. “After he paid, he tipped me $500.” Fish did not need to think twice; after spending two days putting together 300 care packages and delivering 10 cases of Hot Hands for the houseless, she wanted to donate it to provide hope and warmth to others.
“We thought it would take us five years to get to where we are now in the community,” she said. In January 2021, South Press will absorb the barbershop next door, build an awning on the front and add a patio. “We have worked with the Sustainable Future Center to switch to compostable cups made from corn and soy,” said Fish. “People weren’t doing the reusable mugs, so it was a good compromise.”
With the recent spike in COVID-19 cases, South Press has reduced hours and transitioned to to-go orders only until further notice.
Margarita Manny remodels
When Cancun South Knox was forced to close its dining room and its catering van was sitting idly, restaurant owner Cesar Ruiz pressed his brother Manny Ruiz into service on April 3, delivering their first batch of canned “Margarita Manny” to-go drinks.
Since then, the dining room has been completely renovated. “All new furniture, bar, open floor plan paint and concrete floors. Business was up this summer and fall after the remodel, but with all of the COVID restrictions, house dining has taken a big hit.”
Fortunately, Ruiz said carry out and to-go business has increased. Margarita Manny was discontinued, but Cancun is still offering margaritas to go, and orders can be placed at www.cancunknox.com and delivered via ChowNow.
Honeymouth ‘slammed for the holidays’
Custom leather goods maker Georgia Vogel finally opened her dream boutique and workshop in the Old City in August. “It got busier than I anticipated. It can sustain me full time. We have been so fortunate and incredibly slammed for the holidays,” said Vogel, who gave up her job as an art teacher and hired two employees to help make leather goods and run the retail side.
“I have a lot of local makers, from jewelry artists to vintage clothes to plants to candles, so we have a nice variety,” she added.
Custom orders have kept Vogel busy. “People seem to have a good time coming in and choosing their leather and stitching color,” she said. “We are here to make up anything they can dream up.
“We do have some wedding showers coming up and a whole new line coming in January with fresh, cheery new leather colors and spring goods.”
Becca’s Attic jumps to Facebook sales
Becca and Michael Gibson relocated their home décor store from Washington Pike to 6204 Chapman Highway just two days prior to everything shutting down in March.
“We jumped to Facebook Live sales and curbside pickup two to three times a week,” said Becca Gibson. “Our chalk-type paint sales skyrocketed; it was a nice surprise and our business continued to grow. it is probably the easiest and most efficient way to change up something; a little jar of paint can make a huge impact.”
Social media became an outlet for Becca’s Attic and their customers. “We have more traffic since reopening in May,” said Gibson. “Business has continued to stay busy, and people were excited to meet us in person. It’s probably been one of our best years.”
‘Loyal clients’ buoy ACF Jewelry
Caroline Farris moved her jewelry atelier a block away, to 105 W. Jackson Ave., beneath Lox Salon. Farris’ eponymous pink jewelry vending machine also made the move.
“It is a fun no-contact way to interact with people, while still being very safe. And as a treat at the end of an appointment, I load it with cotton candy.”
Farris plans to patent her “endless chains” — a custom fitted and soldered bracelet — and offers endless chain gift certificates through the vending machine..
“When I get anxious I look at how the community has shown up with loyal clients,” said Farris. “We are fortunate to have such a tightknit active community downtown; everyone is so well intentioned. We are not going to make it unless we can still do business; we have to do it creatively. People are thinking twice about ordering from faceless places.”
ACF Jewelry is now sold at Honeymouth, and Farris sells some of her patented TN designs at DW Designs.
Studio 212 Arts and McQueen Pottery stay busy
When classes had to be canceled in March, Studio 212 Arts owner Leanne McQueen just packed up and started sending out Art ToGo Boxes to students. “They went great,” said McQueen. “We switched to in-person for summer camps and we were already done in July as cases went up. We started our semester in August with social distancing and masks and finished early before Thanksgiving.”
If necessary, McQueen said Studio 212 Arts is prepared to go virtual again.
One-time classes making Nativity scenes, succulent holders and Santa mugs have helped make up any shortfall in art class participation.
“We have had our busiest year with McQueen Pottery,” said McQueen.
While upscale restaurants have paused their orders, McQueen said they have seen wholesale orders roll in well past the beginning of December when production usually slows. “We are a luxury item, but we hope to continue to grow online for the home,” she said.
Goodwin’s South of The River absorbs changes
“The drastic change from summer to winter has been crazy,” said Jakiesha Fishback, who operates Goodwin’s South of the River food truck with her parents, Monte and Julie Goodwin. “This is our first go-around during the winter months; it has been so much slower and COVID has put a big strain on things.”
Goodwin’s has introduced specials to keep people coming back. “Smoked bologna and meatloaf sandwiches and hand-dipped corndogs have been popular, especially at Stormer’s Hardware — they eat so many corndogs,” said Fishback.
Goodwin’s South of the River has reduced hours, and Fishback has taken a part time teaching job again.
“We run five days a week until May and then we will go back to six or seven days a week,” she said. “We hope to have a lot more catering orders next year.”
The upside has been coming together as a family. “We are always together; it has been more of a good thing than bad,” she added.
Loyalty, grit and love: the top 2020 stories in Powell
Al Lesar, Shopper News
Somewhere between passion and obsession is the place Kevin Keck has lived his life when it comes to making movies.
Since he was 6, participating in the Best Christmas Pageant at the Bijou Theatre in Knoxville, the 24-year-old Powell High School graduate (2014) has had the itch to make magic happen for an audience.
By middle school, Keck and his buddies put together an “absolutely terrible” murder mystery that debuted at the Knoxville Film Festival.
He can laugh about it now.
While his friends graduated from high school and went to pursue careers in the medical and legal fields, Keck kept scratching. He landed some scholarship money to major in film and attend Chapman University in Orange, California, shouting distance south of Los Angeles, where the real magic is created.
It wasn’t until he was a senior that his place at Chapman was validated. That validation came in the form of his final project, “American Letters.”
Durnin fills art void
When the education process is interrupted, there are likely to be cracks that need to be filled.
Debra Durnin is prepared to do her part to help where she can.
For 22 years, Durnin was an art teacher at Powell Middle School. She retired two years ago to play an active role in spoiling her grandchildren. With the Knox County Schools’ offering of an online instruction option along with in-person teaching, art might be a subject that is pushed to the backburner.
That’s why Durnin stepped forward to develop an online curriculum that would give those with an inclination toward art an opportunity for small-group lessons.
Human connection binds spa
Walk into De Spa & Salon and hear “Sugar,” by Maroon 5 playing, there won’t be a dry eye in the place.
Three years later, the salon’s unofficial anthem still has meaning for clients and employees of the Powell business.
Kolton was 3 when he passed away in 2017 while waiting for a heart transplant. His mother, Mimi, a hairstylist, still works at the shop. “Sugar” was Kolton’s favorite song. Now, it belongs to everyone else.
“I’ve been amazed at how powerful the human connection can be at a place like this,” said operations manager Anthony Jackson.
That camaraderie is a big reason why Jackson isn’t worried about losing touch with the regulars as De Spa & Salon makes its move from 1413 E. Emory Road to 708 W. Emory Road.
Choir hits right note
In 28 previous years as choir director at Powell High School, Jim Kennedy never had a group of his PHS Singers perform in front of 71,000 people.
Take a pandemic, eliminate in-person concerts and any other appearances, add in some creativity, and the recipe for some amazing success can ultimately happen.
As part of a 9/11 tribute, Kennedy and his singers came up with the idea for a video. He put to use some video techniques he had and it got much better. The flag, an eagle, fireworks and soldiers all added spice to the patriotic theme and contributed to a success that was viewed more than 71,000 times on YouTube.
Love story continues
Steven Letner will never take “15 years of wonderful” for granted.
“Some people never find true happiness, trust and respect in their life,” Letner said. “I had it for 15 years. I’m truly blessed.”
Letner, 58, battled back the emotion that has been a constant companion since July 13 when his husband of 15 years, Larry Clark, 65, never woke up from a night’s sleep.
Clark, who owned Sugarbaker’s Supplies for more than 30 years, was a popular figure in the Powell area. He was the kind of guy who would venture in when the store was closed to help a panicked customer with a specialty item during a baking project.
Letner made a promise to Clark that he would carry on his legacy by keeping Sugarbaker’s open. He has closed down the hair salon he owned in Bearden to take over the day-to-day operation of the successful business.
Second chance at life
God gave Debra Lambert a second chance at her life.
That conviction gets the 63-year-old out of bed and into the gym every day — no matter the pain.
There was a time, long ago, when the 5-foot-4 Lambert weighed 260 pounds. She battled debilitating back spasms and other aches and pains.
By 2010, Lambert had had enough. She started on a journey in which she probably lost about 500 pounds in all, while gaining parts of it back at times.
Since those early days, there have been setbacks and celebrations. Today, she checks in at a slender 130 and is preparing to enter the world of physique competition.
Tree Cowboys seek fame
Trees aren’t sexy for video viewers, but the guys that climb them on a regular basis might be.
“My goal is to get our guys on Netflix,” said Patrick Siminerio, the Minister of Propaganda for Baumann Tree Service in Powell.
Heck, if the “Real Housewives of Orange County” can have their own reality TV show, why not the “Tree Cowboys of Powell”?
While owner Matt Baumann has been consumed from sunup ’til sundown scaling trees six days a week for the past seven years, he has entrusted Siminerio with telling his story.
Baumann really is a Tree Cowboy. Legend has it that Baumann was a rodeo bull rider in another lifetime. A friend in the rodeo did tree work on the side and brought Baumann along. Little did he know it would evolve into a career.
Lulu … by any other name
Even in the place she has owned for the better part of the last 15 years, only about half her customers know who Deana Hurd is.
Well… kinda… sorta.
She’ll answer to Deana and she’ll answer to Lulu. Doesn’t really matter.
As long as they keep calling Lulu’s Tea Room (3703 W. Beaver Creek Drive) for reservations.
“People who know me from living in Powell know me as Deana,” said Hurd, who set down roots in the community in 1996. “To my family, I’m Lulu (her given name is Deana Louise Hurd) — named after my grandmother. Everyone called her Lulu.”
The menu’s just one page long. Variety isn’t the selling point. It’s the execution.
Special pizza in Powell
When it comes to pizza, Justin Holmes has learned Powell, Tennessee, is not Anaheim, California.
Heck, in the last couple of years, the founder of Pizza Hoss came to the startling conclusion that Powell is not Karns, though the communities are separated by just a couple of miles.
Get on the subject of the favorite pizza in Powell and — once the national chains are evicted from the conversation — Pizza Hoss is a likely contender at the top of the heap among locals.
Ten years ago, Holmes followed his future wife, Sarah, to East Tennessee from Orange County, California. In 2012, they took the bold move to open a pizza business.
In the early days of the business, he and Sarah lost their 9-month-old son. Then, two years ago, Sarah lost her battle with brain cancer.
Art soothes circumstances
No matter the circumstances of life — and there have been plenty of unique circumstances lately — Sonia Summers continues to rely on her art for stability.
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic a while ago, Summers was the picture of serenity set up near her Broadacres neighborhood painting a landscape portrait of Weigel’s Farm.
Art is also a means for expression. While her cloistered neighbors have gone out past the collection of houses, Summers has adorned her driveway with chalk signs of the season: A Christian theme, a peacock and dogwood.
“It’s my way of brightening the community,” she said.
Catch up with some of the people featured in 2020
Ali James, Shopper News
Finally, 2020 is in the rearview mirror, and after taking a quick glance, The Shopper News discovered a trend. Local businesses and people using creativity to overcome challenging times.
Broadway actress Bailey McCall
On Feb. 28, Bailey McCall was at her alma mater, Central High School, talking about her lead role in the touring Broadway musical “Waitress.” Two weeks later, the future of the tour was up in the air.
“It’s been really up and down; it has been a hard time for everyone and it feels like my life is completely on hold,” said McCall. “At the time, New York was the epicenter and I didn’t have an apartment to go back to. I have been hunkered down in Knoxville waiting for things to start to get better and resume.”
As a creative outlet, McCall focused on a fashion blog she started a few years ago.
McCall said Broadway is shut down through the end of May. “Perhaps it will reopen by late summer, and tours might be right behind that,” she said. Follow Bailey McCall’s fashion finds @bybaileymccall on Instagram.
Amanda Smith, owner of Paper Herron, offers custom hand lettering services, decorating chalkboards and windows and creating murals to beautify homes and businesses.
In the new year, Smith wants to introduce a line of lettered goods, but beyond paper goods. “I haven’t quite nailed down what that will include yet,” she said. “I also plan to increase the amount of custom work I can take.”
Rose + Vine Wreath Co.
Amelia Ketring started Rose and Vine Wreath Co., a custom door wreath company, on New Year’s Day 2020.
“When the (Shopper News) article came out, my sales tripled for my little business,” she said. “I spent the weeks leading up to Mother’s Day preparing and delivering special orders to doorsteps all over Knoxville. I have had a lot of repeat customers and made over 350 wreaths.”
The biggest obstacles have been finding supplies and shipping delays. “Mostly it has been a wonderful outlet for me to get away from the stress of working as a neonatal intensive care nurse at UT Medical Center,” she said. “I think 2020 was the perfect year to debut my little shop because there was so much emphasis put on online shopping.”
One goal for Rose + Vine in 2021 is a vendor booth space for craft shows and maker expos. After a short break, Ketring plans to reopen her online shop in January for a small winter and Valentine’s Day collection.
In March, mobile coffee business Pedal Java had to reimagine its business when major events were canceled. Owners Andrew and Ashley Mrozkowski stayed afloat creating at-home coffee kits, posting fun tutorials online and hosting pop-up events in their warehouse.
“The last six months we’ve continued to create new and wonderful coffee varieties that we deliver for free in Knox County as well as shipping around the country,” said Ashley Mrozkowski. “Thanks to social media we’ve been able to expand our market and now ship to all 50 states regularly. We have grown to collectively over 120,000 followers across all social media platforms.”
On Dec. 9, Pedal Java partnered with Sleeves4Needs to provide coffee and thousands of dollars of essential products to the homeless population of Knoxville.
Reap the Sew Boutique
Sisters Andrea Vaughn, Alex Winkle and Allyson Halsey moved Reap the Sew + Salon to a larger space at 1405 East Emory Road.
After opening the boutique Aug. 22, Vaughn said her sister Halsey was able to open The Loft Salon just a week or two later. “It’s going really well with three stylists,” she said.
“Thankfully we already had a website, and we have been getting all of our holiday orders out within 24 hours.” Website sales have continued to grow.
“We never got to do a full opening or hold our annual fall festival, so we hope to do that,” she said. “And we are launching our new activewear line on Jan. 1, 2021.”
Tylee Torres launched Drink Smooth, a mobile event company, out of her revamped trailer on Sept. 17. Drink Smooth sells seasonal fresh smoothies and smoothie bowls at area businesses.
“Since opening Drink Smooth, I wasn’t sure what to expect, if we would be busy, slow, or even booked at all,” said Torres. “We have been blown away by the support and kind words. Drink Smooth has been booked almost every day, some days two to three events.” Torres has started offering gift cards for sale and punch cards for regulars.
The Drink Smooth calendar is regularly posted at https://msha.ke/drinksmooth.
Undone Art co. was launched by friends Jess Murph and Jani Howell in November 2019. The DIY art kits contain a canvas, paint, instructions and even a pop-on frame.
“What a year this has been for small business,” said Murph. ”For our company, it’s been a year of both ups and downs. In March and April, when everyone was locked down at home, there quickly became a focus on at-home activities and self-care. We have always preached that painting and creating are amazing mental health activities, and since our kits come with everything our customers need to paint at home, we were primed for that category.”
Knox Vittles Truck
Owner Chasity “Cha-Cha” Shelby said that as the weather cools down and people continue to work from home, business has slowed down dramatically.
“It has been very rough,” said Shelby. “We usually try to earn money during the spring and summer to save money for the winter, but this year with festivals being canceled, it has been winter all year.”
On Thanksgiving Day, Shelby fed a free dinner to 136 people in Halls. “We filled two blessing boxes with donations, and a few people donated to help us offset the costs,” she said. “I was surprised by how many people in our area needed help.”
Shelby said she always posts her location and specials — from pot roast to blueberry biscuits to fried pies — at facebook.com/KnoxVittlesFoodTruck and plans to continue operating right through winter.
Gracie Lee’s Boutique
Michelle Mears and her daughters, Gracie Mears and Makenzie Leslie, opened Gracie Lee’s Gifts & More boutique in Fountain City on Sept. 4. “Over the last few months we have been asked several times ‘Why would you open a business during a pandemic?’” said Gracie Mears. “The short answer is ‘to bring people joy.’ If this year has taught us anything it’s to be joyful in all things big and small and to never take celebrating for granted. If we can make someone smile during this crazy time, that’s our goal.”
The family takes pride in supporting small businesses. “We now have an expansive Balloon Bar that will be even larger in January,” said Michelle Mears. “We offer bouquets, garlands, gender reveals, engagements, and birthday balloons.”
Another top seller has been a Farrah B charm bar where customers can pick and choose charms to add to their 16K gold plated necklaces.
Emory Road Collective
After Angela Chandler inherited and moved into her mother’s former doublewide in May 2019, she set about transforming the space — updating the master suite and kitchen and painting just about everything white. “This past year I have spent lots of time in the barn with all of my animals, did some painting around the house and I’d like to think I perfected my baking skills,” said Chandler.
For the most bang for her buck, she freshened up outdated ceiling fans with spray paint, painted a door pink for a pop of color and gave an old armoire a coat of white paint. “I added a simple vintage shelf for a cleaner look in my kitchen,” she said. “I shopped my own home for all items so this was a zero dollar update. 2020 was definitely hard for us all but I tried to embrace what I have and find happiness in that. I feel very blessed to be where I am.”
A new role for a new year
Leslie Snow, Shopper News
It showed up at every family gathering or holiday. I’d watch my mom pull the big metal roasting pan out of the kitchen cabinet and I’d know there would be something special to eat for dinner that night; a roasted turkey for Thanksgiving, a savory brisket for Chanukah, or a big batch of stuffed cabbage to warm us on those cold Ohio nights.
I don’t think my sisters ever took notice of the pan, but I did. I liked to help my mother cook holiday dinners or at least watch her as she rolled cabbage balls or browned a fresh turkey. I’d sit on a chair in the kitchen and pepper her with questions while she worked.
“How long do you cook a turkey? How do you roll the cabbage balls so they stay together? What makes your brisket taste so good?” She’d answer all my questions and let me sample whatever dish she was cooking. I was content just to be near her.
My mom remembers the roaster from her childhood, too. Like me, she watched her mother prepare holiday meals in that same heavy-duty pan. “My mother had that pan for as long as I can remember,” she told me the other day. “When she died, I couldn’t bear to part with it. It was one of the things from her house that I just had to have.”
Over the years, I looked for a pan just like it, something big and heavy with an airtight seal, but I could never find anything of the same quality. When I’d complain about the cheap substitutes, my mother would say, “That pan could be over 100 years old. You won’t find another one like it. But when I’m ready, I’ll give it to you.”
When my parents moved from Cleveland to Knoxville this fall, my mom was finally ready. She gave me the roasting pan without much fanfare. “You’ll get more use out of it than I will,” she said with a shrug of her shoulders. “I don’t even think it will fit in my kitchen.”
I used the pan this week to make a big batch of stuffed cabbage for my parents. It felt solid and familiar in my hands. While I cooked, I pictured my grandmother gripping the same handles I was gripping. I remembered my mother teaching me how to fold the cabbage just like her mother taught her. I felt connected to the women who came before me, but a little sad, too.
My mom didn’t just pass on her mother’s roaster when she gave me that pan, she passed the torch. She turned over the holiday cooking duties to me and let me know she was taking a step back.
I’m happy to do the cooking. And I’m happy to have something of my grandmother’s to help me remember her. But as 2020 changes to 2021, I can’t help but think I’m taking on a new role in the new year.
I am the youngest child, but I’m in charge in a way I’ve never been before. I’m my parents’ driver and their helper. I’m the decision maker and the authority. My mom depends on me to sort through her daily tasks and her everyday worries.
I’m up for the challenge and I’ll gladly accept my new role, but holding that heavy aluminum pan made it all real for me. I’m the guardian of our family heirlooms now. And the keeper of our traditions.
Leslie Snow may be reached at snow [email protected]
This article originally appeared on Knoxville News Sentinel: Shopper News blog: Bearden businesses change, parks offer escape and people do notable things in 2020