Brittney Burns – Staff Writer

With new shops calling West Franklin home, and old businesses continuing to flourish on the west end of town, business owners are coming together to celebrate with a block party.

“We wanted to come up with a way to help promote all the businesses that have recently opened or who are still thriving on this side of town,” said Josh Patrick, new owner of Appalachian Ace Hardware. “West Franklin has so much new life and energy and we want people to come see it. We also wanted a way to thank the customers who are loyal to these local businesses. In the day and age of [big box stores], we have to stick together as local business owners and let our customers know how much we appreciate them.”

The block party is scheduled for Saturday, July 16, and will be taking place in the parking lot of Appalachian Ace.  Newly thriving businesses like Lazy Hiker Brewing, Fox Mercantile, Signs Express, and Appalachian Ace will be partnering with businesses that have been operating on that end of town for decades like Curtis TV and Macon Rental for free food, music, give aways and activities for the whole family.

“Appalachian Ace will provide free hot dogs grilled and Big Green Egg cooking demonstrations and we are going to have give aways by all the businesses involved,” said Patrick. “There is going to be music by Tony Curtis with Radioshack and a chance to meet and discuss with the business owners all the exciting things happening out our way.”

The revitalization of West Franklin comes with businesses relocating into vacant buildings, new owners, and existing businesses working to continue to provide services that have proven effective for decades. Several of the new businesses now calling West Franklin home are run by young business owners bringing innovative ideas and marketing to the community.

“We are young, but we all have a lot to offer this town,” said Patrick. “Following what a great job Franklin locals have done with updating Main Street, we want to see this extend into West Franklin to make it a place to shop, play, and live. There are some pretty cool things happening already and we just want to support each other so all these businesses will be around for years to come.”

Fox Mercantile owner Nick Potts opened his shop to fill a void that was left when Peoples Department Store closed their doors on Main Street. With nearly a year of business to his credit, Potts is excited for the momentum in town.

“I grew up in West Franklin and spent a lot of time on this end of town, so it is a part of me and always will be,” said Potts. “But the best part is that there are a lot of people investing their resources into making West Franklin a good place for business owners and their customers. There’s new life here, and it will only get better as we go forward. It’s a very exciting time for all of Franklin, but I’m especially proud to be a part of this community on the west side.”

Potts agrees with Patrick about the momentum of the younger business owners and their desire to revitalize a Franklin they grew up in and love. “I think Franklin is in a transition phase right now,” said Potts. “There is a generation who is looking to retirement, then there are the people who step in to fill those shoes.  I would say it’s just part of a cycle that all towns go through. In order to remain a functioning and successful community, we have to adapt to the changes. Fortunately, we have some really smart folks who are highly driven to help us continue to provide the goods and services that Franklin and its visitors have grown accustomed to. Franklin is seeing a lot of change right now and we want to be leaders and send the future of Franklin in the right direction for the sake of our local economy and community as a whole.”

Potts looks at the block party as a way to ensure that the community is aware of all West Franklin has to offer. “We really just want to make people aware that we are here to serve the community and we want to earn their business,” said Potts. “West Franklin has a lot of history and we are excited to build and improve on that history.  That’s why we want people to come out so they can meet the business owners and see what kind of goods and services we can offer them.  Plus, who doesn’t like a reason to celebrate? So come out and see what we’re all about, give us feedback and help us continue the push to make all of Franklin the best it can possibly be!”

Macon Rental has been in business in Franklin since 1979 and has been located on West Main since 1985. Owners Amanda and Chris Shaw are excited about the changes and the opportunity to rally the community around the businesses.

“We love seeing businesses thrive in Macon County,” said Amanda. “After a down economy it is refreshing to see new businesses and established businesses growing. Chris and I both believe it is important to see the faces behind businesses and this block party is a great way to do that, unlike big box stores where you may never meet the owner. Meeting us and other business owners like us gives what we hope is an understanding that when you support our businesses you are also supporting our families and the Macon County economy. We hope to make this an annual event and get more and more people involved.”

Patrick also believes that an annual block party with food, music, and games for the whole family is a great way to keep businesses local and grounded to give customers, both new and old a way to talk with businesses owners and share ideas and even concerns. In the coming years, the group hopes to see the event grow and be something that more businesses in the area get on board with.