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Tennessee, Thou Art Wide!

My cardiologist called me today. He said it was time to get out of Tennessee! I think it’s already too late!

New Yorkers are a spoiled bunch when it comes to food. While I’m not one of “them,” I still blew an hour this morning driving around Memphis looking for a deli or diner that could make me a bacon, egg and cheese on a roll. I passed ONE deli and parked and walked to the door only to find that they open at 11?

Which means it's NOT a deli at all!

I knew better than to look for a bagel store! I can’t decide which would have been worse: driving around Memphis looking for a bagel store OR the bagels that I would have had to endure if I actually found a bagel store in Memphis! A lifetime in New York has made me a bagel snob!

But the BBQ makes up for all!

I started my day (after the food search) at Memphis Paint. Memphis Paint is a two-store chain that is about to be a three-store chain according to the store manager Joseph Deberry. They have got a new store in construction now. The store that I saw today was a cool hybrid between a fast-paced commercial paint store and small design store. Downstairs was a full-on commercial and retail paint store. They had the full line from Benjamin Moore, a nice selection from Richards, a new exterior line called Romabio which they claim sells so fast they can’t even get their hands on it (not a bad problem to have, until It becomes a bad problem to have) and a smattering of Allpro branded products.

Though we have never met, I am impressed with the owner of Memphis Paint, Jeff Branan. He seems to understand that to succeed, retailers must invest in their own success. You can see those investments paying off in Jeff’s stores.

In addition to the one store I saw today, Jeff owns a hardware store which sells Benjamin Moore as well as Pratt & Lambert and most of the big hardware names. He had a large and fresh inventory, designers on staff, makes deliveries and has an outside sales rep. His outside rep Seth Borlie, is a former Benjamin Moore rep who liked the selling but not the travel. Sounds like a perfect fit. I spoke to Seth today and it was clear that he has his fingers in the local paint pie (that's Seth on the right above).

The store that I was in is heavily focused on the residential re-paint contractor and that was reflected in his inventory. This category of customer tends to focus on premium products and Jeff had them all! He stocked Aura interior and exterior, the full Regal line both in interior and exterior, Advance, Natura and more. Most of it in ones and fives! They are adding a loading-dock door to the back so that they can get pallets in more easily!

Of course, not EVERYONE wants the good stuff and so they had a nice selection of Ultra Spec as well.

That was the ground floor. Upstairs, in addition to a second Benjamin Moore color rack, wallpaper books, fabrics and more, he also had a Farrow & Ball display which Joseph (Scuff-X swag on his head) shared was "easy money!" People come in, drop off their money and then the paint gets ordered. It’s a great fit in his store, with its heavy emphasis on premium products.

If I had to make one “negative” observation about their store it would be that I felt his brush and roller selection was a little light. Painters have brand preferences in that space just like they do in paint. Painters will go elsewhere to buy the tools they like.

Before you go thinking “Mark mind your business, Jeff doesn’t want to hear that!” let me mention; you’d be wrong! Of course I speak to all owners before I mention any names here, as would be appropriate.

I did over 400 miles today; 760 more to go! I continue to love the Beemer: it was a good call. Tons of speed, almost 600 miles on a tank which is clutch for a trip like this, very comfortable, rear wheel drive (car people; you feel me here), 8-speed paddle shifting automatic that gets as close as I ever want to get to an automatic (both my cars at home are sticks) and some damn good looking wheels! I give this car a high grade!

I should kiss my bride when she gets home from work on Friday; maybe the night before? I'm still not sure yet. To be continued!


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Love you travel log Mark, continue a safe trip

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