Community celebrates BarcaLounger ribbon cutting
Participating in the Morristown Area Chamber of Commerce ribbon cutting at the BarcaLounger Comfort Shoppe in west Morristown on Aug. 7 are from left (front row), Courtney Shanks, Morristown Mayor Danny Thomas, Laura Smith, Larry Smith, president and CEO; William Holland, vice president of sales; Bruce Sinning, vice president of merchandising; Richard Emmert, Rebecca Mulnex and Hamblen County Mayor Bill Brittain, along with support staff (background). The two recliners in the foreground will be given away during the Citizen Tribune Kickoff Classic Aug. 23.
Walking into a store full of relaxing furniture could be a challenge to the average Morristown Area Chamber of Commerce ambassador.
It’s usually all business all the time for the volunteers who are lent by their employers to welcome new retailers, service companies and industries to Morristown and Hamblen County and taking a break in, say, a recliner might not be conducive to keeping the wheels of the local economy turning.
But when directed by BarcaLounger Comfort Shoppe manager Richard Emmert, who spent 49 years in persuasive ministerial roles, to have a seat on Aug. 7, they did.
“I like the way businesses in this community support each other,” Emmert said to the welcoming committee that included Morristown Mayor Danny Thomas and Hamblen County Mayor Bill Brittain.
Incoming Morristown Chamber chairman Pete Barile introduced Emmert as a nearly retired pastor, recalling the former days of furniture manufacturing in the area, when local pastors often supplemented their income by working on the production line.
“Rev. Emmert did the reverse, but he is continuing the tradition,” Barile said.
Emmert served as the senior pastor at Manley Baptist Church prior to retiring several years ago. He is now the interim pastor at Mt. Olive Baptist Church in Knoxville.
Barile said Emmert has two roles in his weekday job: operating the factory-to-you store and serving as the community and business development director of BarcaLounger manufacturing.
“We in the community are blessed to have him be a part of reconstructing and bringing back a wonderful name in the furniture industry,” Barile said.
BarcaLounger CEO and President Gary Smith, along with his team that in addition to Emmert includes Vice President of Sales William Holland and Vice President of Merchandising Bruce Sinning, have begun manufacturing operations in Bean Station.
Emmert explained his return to full-time work by saying, “After about three months of retirement, I was bonkers.
“There’s probably nobody in this world that I respect more than Larry Smith. We’ve been together about six months, maybe a little longer. These employees and this company are awesome, because it starts from the top. When you’ve got integrity and character at the top, it makes a difference all the way down.”
Smith said the Comfort Shoppe is a little different than the average outlet store, due to the fact that there is a large variety of seating pieces, ranging from modern and contemporary to classic and traditional.
Although not yet able to fulfill a request for a recliner with a built-in refrigerator, the store offers a myriad of sectionals and pieces that are conducive to sports television and the partaking of cold beverages.
“This is not only our first venture in East Tennessee, it is our first venture as a store,” Smith said.
Partnering with Smith in the development of and investment in the company is his wife of 38 years, Laura.
“A brand is a lot like a personality,” Smith said. “There are certain names that when said out loud produce a specific image. At the end of the day, we’re really not offering you a recliner; we are offering you relaxation and comfort.
“If you look at this store, our company makes more than 100 designs and styles. There is no reclining company in the industry, globally, that is as horizontally diverse in designs and styles.”
Smith said the goal of the new company and the store is to be in the “better and best” of the category.
“The pricing and what we do in his store will be as close to factory-to-you as we can get,” he said.
Smith announced the official Grand Opening of the BarcaLounger Comfort Shoppe will be held from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 15 and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 16.
A large tent will be set up in the parking lot in front of the store located at 2,800 W. Andrew Johnson Hwy., just behind the Subway restaurant.
Product from the BarcaLounger showroom in High Point will be featured, with “incredible pricing,” according to Smith.
Beginning at 11 a.m., Friday and Saturday, grilled hot dogs and drinks will be given away, along with door prizes from local restaurants and retailers to be awarded every two hours.
On Aug. 23, during the Citizen Tribune Football Classic to be held at Burke-Toney Stadium, the BarcaLounger Comfort Shoppe will give away two recliners. Sign-ups for the recliner drawing are available at the store. Individuals must be 21 years or older to register.
By Glenna Howington, Tribune Staff Writer