Legacy of Entrepreneurship and Love of Shopping Inspire Investment in The Mill Storehouse in Cookeville Area
By Claudia Johnson
Special to the Upper Cumberland Business Journal
An Upper Cumberland business owner’s love affair with shopping was the impetus for opening two new stores in the Cookeville area earlier this month.
“I have always enjoyed going to mom-and-pop stores and boutiques,” said April Smith Patterson, who along with her husband, Nick, and mother, Janie Smith, owns The Mill Storehouse on Highway 111 N. near Algood.
Patterson said she prefers to patronize locally owned stores over the corporate department stores and big-box discount centers.
“I just enjoy the ambience, the people and the interesting finds,” she said. “There are a lot of great shops in this area, and I love giving them business. I designed our shops to help add to the selection already available and carry items and brands that customers may not find anywhere nearby.”
The two shops are housed in log buildings that are part of the Honest Abe Log Homes model home complex. Patterson’s father, the late Doug Smith, legendary in the Upper Cumberland for his entrepreneurship, founded Honest Abe and a fist full of other businesses like Mitchell Creek Marina, Swan Ridge Resort, GF Hardwoods, McFarland Outdoors and Barky Beaver.
April Patterson is carrying on her father’s entrepreneurial legacy, but the new stores also reflect the influence of her mother, Janie, who frequented family-owned businesses like their own.
“Ever since I was little it was my dream to have my own store,” April said. “I remember going with mom to a local dress shop. Then I’d go home and pretend to write a ticket and sell the items and wrap them. It was my favorite thing.”
Patterson said she carefully chose what The Mill Storehouse would offer so that others could enjoy the shopping experience. The Mill Storehouse carries personal care products, clothing, accessories, furniture and home decor brands such as Creative Coop, Yeti, Spartina, Umgee, Mud Pie, Regal, Wild & Wolf, Rinse Bath & Body, Skinny & Co Coconut Oil and more.
April’s husband, Nick, who is president of Barky Beaver Mulch & Soil Mix, said the products offered by The Mill Storehouse are in keeping with the philosophy of Barky Beaver.
“We have what you need to make your lawn and garden beautiful and healthy,” Nick said. “Plus, our mulch and soil products are 100% natural and environmentally safe, and our selection of plants will always be from trusted local growers.”
The Mill Storehouse features gardening supplies, Barky Beaver mulch and potting soil, seasonal items, farm fresh produce and more.
“For fall we have pumpkins, mums, pansies, squash, hay bales, corn stalks and fall decorations,” Nick said. “For Christmas we’ll have fresh trees and wreaths as well as decorations and plenty of gift items. Spring will bring flowers, seeds and garden plants.”
Nick noted that Barky Beaver, which began manufacturing at Moss in Clay County more than 30 years ago, has operated an additional facility at Algood for many years, making the company a long-time member of the Cookeville business community. And that’s important to the Pattersons.
April said as a business owner she recognizes the economic value of investing in a community and also supporting other small businesses.
“When I shop at locally owned stores, I know I am helping a family like mine not only to survive but to enable others to have jobs and their families to feel secure,” she said.
Future plans for the new endeavor include moving Honest Abe’s original model home from Allons to the site on Hwy. 111 for use as another shop. For now, however, Nick and April are ready for customers. UPDATE: This was completed in spring 2017!
“I want people to come here to find just what is needed to make their living environment more beautiful or to discover the perfect gift for a loved one,” April said, adding, “I want this to be a place where people come to shop with their families…a place that inspires little kids like I once was.”