Christmas All Year in Mt Juliet

A long-kept secret was finally revealed late summer when Judd Sellars announced Christmas Place was to be constructed on three acres in the planned Sellars Station development on North Mt Juliet Road.

At the groundbreaking, Santa Claus made his grand entrance with a “ho ho ho” atop a Mt. Juliet fire engine with nearly 100 well-wishers there to welcome Christmas Place owners Toby and Karen Barnes, along with co-owners daughter, Kristin, and son-in-law, Mark Jackson.
Projected opening is summer 2020, just in time to lead into the holiday season.


It’s a $3 million investment that will make Mt. Juliet a destination place and sister store to the south’s largest Christmas store, The Incredible Christmas Place, owned by the same family, already open at the foothills of the Smoky Mountains in Pigeon Forge, Tenn.

“We are so honored to be here in Mt. Juliet,” Barnes said at the groundbreaking. “We feel so lucky to be embraced and now Mt. Juliet and all around here can celebrate Christmas 365 days a year.”
Barnes is semi-retired now and Kristen is CEO of the company. And while this 12,000-square-foot centerpiece will highlight Mt. Juliet for years to come, the original The Incredible Christmas Place had 12 million visitors in just one week this past summer.
“They came to us,” said Sellars. “It was between Mt. Juliet and Brentwood. I know Mt. Juliet will embrace the Christmas theme and we are so family-oriented. They saw my Sellars Park (built in 2014) development and loved the old-world-looking brick. They want to replicate that for their store.”
The site plan calls for five lanes for tourist buses and about 65 parking places.

Kristen said part of the footprint will be a four-story bell tower that can play holiday music year-round.
Actual work on the project began in November.
“The project is going fantastic,” Kristen told Wilson Living. “We are finalizing all the plans and should begin construction in the next couple of weeks. We are so excited to see the ground move.”
Kristen said they are in full swing of this Christmas season in Pigeon Forge.
“We have already begun buying, planning and constructing displays for the new store,” she added. “We have an amazing product selection and themes planned and cannot wait to unveil it next year.”
Spokesperson for the Christmas Place, Chad Nether-land, told Wilson Living the store planned for Mt. Juliet will be a smaller version than the massive store in Pigeon Forge (at 40,000 square feet and in its 34th year).
“But in itself, it [Mt. Juliet store] will be a regional draw as well,” he said. “It’s such a cute town and a great paring withdraws from Metro Nashville and way be-yond.”
Netherland said it’s so important to note the two Christmas stores are family owned and operated.
“Mt. Juliet is near and dear to their hearts,” he noted.
“This Mt. Juliet store may not have as much as the one in Pigeon Forge, but it will still have the same variety of Christmas trees, ornaments and all things Christmas from head to toe. All the best of the best. One hundred percent Christmas.”
And while they will include seasonal nods, the focus is the merriment of the Christmas season.
What’s unique to the Christmas Place is they have design teams on hand to customize wreaths, garlands and anything one can imagine. And they ship everywhere.
“I guess the takeaway is that everyone loves Christ-mas and our store is not like your typical home-goods type store,” Netherland said. “It’s unique and is an ‘experience’ and people wander through and pick up great themes and ideas to replicate at their homes. We create one of a kind displays and rooms and layouts.”
To say it’s elaborate would be an understatement. The bell tower at Pigeon Forge and planned for Mt. Juliet’s store, is designed after a German village.
“We will bring a little of that to Mt. Juliet,” said Netherland.
Additionally, there are future projects for Mt. Juliet, Sellars revealed.
In Pigeon Forge, there’s an Inn at Christmas Place. And, more land is acquired by Sellars, so you never know! Other endeavors are in the works.

AR Workshop

A Mt. Juliet mother-daughter duo have joined forces to give all of us a chance to get our DIY juices flowing. To say it was a God thing puts it mildly. Both very spiritually minded, it was only natural mom Tina Pressley and daughter Haley Jones put their heads together – to be together – in a joint business venture.

They have recently opened an oasis for wanna be…gonna be…do-it-your selfers who just want to create original one-of-a-kind projects in a Zen environment with no pressures and tons of tools to simply create.

Right in the heart of Mt. Juliet.

Haley searched and applied for this franchise and got an automatic yes, said Tina.

They opened AR Workshop on March 16.

Think DIY art studio meshed with a very cool boutique. It’s the best of both worlds for those who want a wonderful escape to create fun gifts, special signs, and, while there, peruse a boutique full of enchanting items.

“God opened the door for us,” said mom Tina. “We wanted to work together and people have been gracious and supportive.”

“It has always been a dream of ours to work together, but we really had no idea what that might look like,” Tina said. “We had discussed every kind of business we could think of from real estate to clothing boutiques but something kept taking us back to the concept of a DIY-type business in general, but specifically AR Workshop. As longtime Wilson County residents, we were well aware of the need for some type of entertainment that would appeal to a broad age range and interests.”

They are the perfect pair, this mom and daughter. Haley is a 2014 graduate of Mt. Juliet Christian Academy and Cumberland University, where she received her master’s degree in business administration last year.

Tina is a longtime Wilson County resident and has worked as development director for Mt. Juliet Christian Academy for 15 years. She will step down from this job to focus full time on AR Workshop.

Tina’s dad, and Haley’s papa, Ken Stilts, was a much-revered businessman in Mt. Juliet and was Tina’s mentor. “This business was right up our alley,” said Tina.

She laughs out loud to say she’s not the craftiest person in the world. And, perhaps worse! Whereas her daughter is on point. They mesh their attributes to make the business run right. And, since they opened, it’s been a huge hit in Mt. Juliet with ongoing classes, workshops, and projects non-stop for people who just want to DIY.

“This makes me feel like I can do crafts,” Tina said with a laugh. They are 23 years and 53 years. “I see myself in her,” said mom. “It’s about patience and grace,” Tina said she’s the idea person and her daughter implements. “Haley is the nuts and bolts of this business,” she said.

The 1,350-square foot oasis is ready for anyone who wants to create.

“We are more than just signs, which are awesome,” said Tina.

There are also wood projects, chunky knit blankets, and specialty classes, with literally thousands of projects to create.

“I don’t think many people get to say they are business partners with their mom, but I am one of the few who can!” said Haley.

“Mom has always been my very best friend so it only made sense that we would start a business together. She is incredibly talented in all that she does and extremely giving, loving and a whole lot of fun! Working next to my mom is very rewarding and has given me a front row seat to see how amazing she really is as a mom, a person and now a business owner. I am extremely proud to work next to her every single day and although very hard work, there is no one else I’d rather be on this journey with!”

“We have never looked back, there is an internal peace for both of us,” said Tina.

AR Workshop works in four steps. First, participants choose a class based on the project they would like to make and then the day and time they’d like to attend. Second, participants book a seat at the workshop, choose their project, design and give them design-specific personalization. Groups or individuals can book workshops. Third, participants show up for the workshop, where the tools, materials and step-by-step instructions are provided. Finally, participants take home their finished projects.

“We look forward to offering something fun for all ages and interests, including those who do not really consider themselves the DIYer,” Haley said. “Anyone who knows Tina knows she is not exactly the most creative person, and she completes the projects with great ease all while having fun. This is a place for all groups, ages, men and women, those who do not know anything about DIY and the most experienced crafter. Along with our wonderful workshops of wood projects, chunky knit blankets, and specialty classes, we also offer retail for gifts, home decor, jewelry and more.”

Check it out at 1984 Providence Parkway, Mt Juliet, TN 37122 (615) 212-5676

River City Ball 2019

On a night like no other in Smith County, River City Ball hosted their second annual event on Saturday, May 11.

This second fundraiser raised money for worthy causes with the extra bonus of a great night out with friends in the beautiful venue of Main Street in Carthage, under the stars on the lawn of one of the most historic courthouses in Tennessee.

River City Ball planning committee member Erika Ebel said the non-profit organization was inspired by the famous Phoenix Ball in Lebanon.

“We wanted something similar for Smith County,” she said. “We wanted to raise money for causes and have it be fun and classy. Our original idea was to have the ball on the bridge, but our courthouse is a gorgeous backdrop and one of the originals in Tennessee.”

This year’s event was black-tie and for ages 21 and up.
“Attendees were encouraged to wear a masquerade-ball-type mask,” said Ebel. She explained the River City Ball began last year with proceeds benefiting a special cause and local scholarships to seniors at each of the county’s high schools.

“Last year a portion of the proceeds benefited the Carthage Junction Depot restoration project,” said Ebel.

This year a portion of the proceeds will benefit Smith County CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children) and county high schools.

“There are a lot of needs in Smith County,” said Ebel. “There are a lot of worthy causes, different causes.”

The board chose CASA because of the great need in the county and how much good the organization does for local children, explained Ebel. “We like to find organizations that do good and this recognition and donation will be a good vehicle for CASA, as well as raise awareness for what they do,” she noted.

On the night of the Ball, the historic court-house lawn and Main Street were transformed with a Phantom of the Opera type vibe. The big beautiful trees on the lawn were the backdrop for tents, a dance floor, lighting.

Guests walked a carpet and the band Naughahydes provided a mix of rock and bluesy music. There were silent as well as live auctions to keep the entertainment going all night.

The event was designed for guests to explore and move around the venue with a photographer on site for candids and vignettes where people posed throughout the evening.

Two Fat Men catered the linen table cloth dinner with dessert showcased with delicious strawberries donated by Catesa Farms. Think cheesecake and strawberry brus-chetta. Many sponsors including Citizens Bank supported the event and their cause.

The night was a marvelous success in the hopes of helping CASA in Smith County continue with their good works. And we can’t wait until next year!