Blount Partnership News and Events

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It's coffee club week at the Blount Chamber. Join us August 31 at 7:45 a.m. at Century 21 Real Estate Group located at 205 Foothills Mall Rd., Maryville. Coffees are designed to offer our members the opportunity to build business relationships with other members and to gain exposure for their business or organization in an "open house" setting. Coffees are open to anyone associated with a Chamber member business. Participation is not reserved to the representative(s) listed on the Chamber membership.

Be sure to check out the 93rd installment of The Dialogue at the bottom of this email where we visit with a new Blount Chamber member. This week it is Kim Knopf, founder of Sleep Outfitters.
The Blount Partnership, along with the law firms of Wimberly Lawson and Lewis Thomason, is hosting a three-part supervisors training - human resource/legal seminar on Friday, Sept. 8, 2017 from 8:30-11 a.m. at the Blount Partnership office (201 S. Washington St., Maryville).

Topics to be covered include the avoiding liability from hostile work environment claims presented by Lynne Peterson of Lewis Thomason. Kurt Greene of Arrow G Consulting offers approaches, techniques and tips for managing conflicts between managers and employees. Finally, Howard Jackson of Wimberly Lawson Wright Daves & Jones will discuss workplace fairness and avoiding discrimination claims.

The cost is $50 per person for non-Chamber members and $25 per person for Chamber members. Register online or by phone at 865.983.2241. If a chamber member sends two more employees, registration is $20 per employee.
Let the friendly competition begin. Taste of Blount, a collection of savory food favorites from restaurants, caterers and gourmet grocers, returns for its 16th year at the Theater in the Park in Maryville (across from the Blount County Courthouse) Thursday, Sept. 14 from 6-8 p.m. The event is sponsored by CBBC Bank and Reinhart Food Service.

Tickets, which are $25 for Blount County Chamber members, $30 for the public and $15 for students 17 and under or those with a college or student ID, are available at the Chamber office (201 S. Washington St., Maryville, Tenn.), by phone 865.983.2241 or online. Tickets are available at the door the night of the event on a cash-only basis.

Vendors on hand at press time include Aubrey's, Piece of Cake Bakery, TC's Grill, Full Service BBQ, Artistic Bean, Lambert's Southern Pie & Bake Shop, McAlister's Deli, Metz Catering, Moe's Southwest Grill, Rocky's Jamaica Sunrise, Roland's Bistro, Sullivan's, The Soup Kitchen, Vienna Coffee House, Gracie's, Shrimp Dock of Alcoa, Artistic Pops, Maryville Corner Market, Apple Valley Cafe and Jamamerican Jerk Centre.

Ticket holders can try savory favorites and vote for their favorite appetizer, beverage, sandwich, main course, dessert, presentation and overall winner.
Join us August 31 at the Blount Partnership (201 S. Washington St., Maryville) for Financing Your Business the SBA Way. This free seminar covers SBA loan options including which loan program meets a specific entrepreneurial need. The session begins with the 5 C's of credit including character, cash flow, collateral, capitalization and conditions. It then transitions to an overview of SBA's actual loan programs. Lastly, specific information will be shared about interest rates and repayment terms plus our participating lenders. Whether you are an existing entrepreneur or have given thought to starting a business, this seminar will put you ahead of the game in government guaranteed lending. Jacqueline Merritt, Small Business Administration, is the presenter. To register, please email or call Jacqueline Merritt or 615/736-7465.
Do you want to make better connections? If so, then join us for a Network Training Class September 5 from 3-4:30 p.m. at the Blount Partnership (201 S. Washington St., Maryville) as Raeus Jae Cannon will show you how to quit making cold calls and drive more prospects. You'll learn tips and techniques that can be used before you leave the room. Email Amy if you wish to attend.
Book the evening of November 14 on your calendar for that night the Blount Partnership presents "A Night with the Lone Survivor" and the Best of Blount Awards at the Clayton Center for the Arts on the Maryville College campus at 6:30 p.m. Ticket information coming soon.

Retired Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell and author of Lone Survivor, which recounts the heroic sacrifices of fellow SEAL Team members assigned to Operation Red Wing, brings a message of family, service, sacrifice and community.

In the meantime, submit your nominations for the Best of Blount Awards until September 22. Awards will be given prior to Luttrell's appearance for Business of the Year, Philanthropist of the Year, Community Impact Award, Bright Future Award, Tourism Award and the inaugural First Responder Award.
Member-to-member promotions for September are needed. Please submit by Thursday, Aug. 31. Check out the new special deals from Vieo Design and King University. See these and other promotions at member-to-member promotions. New offers are being posted almost daily, so check out the Blount County Chamber of Commerce Member-to-Member promotions online. This Member-to-Member Promotional Program offers you and your company the opportunity to market your products and services to the membership.
Here's how it works:
1. Submit a PDF of a service, product or discount you'd like to offer to the Chamber membership to Be sure to include an expiration date.
2. An email with all the promotions will be sent out on the final Monday of every month to our member database.
3. All promotions will be posted on
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Find what you're looking for in the Chamber Directory.
Is your organization hosting an event in the community? Submit it here on our community calendar. If it's a tourism event, please email Ashlee so she can post it on
Also, please send us any news releases or good news about your business. We'd love to share it with the community.
"Kiss from a Rose" by Seal held the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 this week in 1995 thanks to its inclusion on the Batman Forever soundtrack. At the 1996 Grammy Awards, it won awards for Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Male Pop Vocal Performance.



August 28-September 3



September 4-10



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You can access the entire calendar here to see other community events and submit your own.

The Dialogue

This feature is a question-and-answer session with a new Blount County Chamber member. So here we go with our 93rd installment visiting with Kim Knopf, founder of Sleep Outfitters, which sells America's best mattress brands--Tempur-Pedic, Sealy and Stearns & Foster.
What does Sleep Outfitters do? People are learning to live longer, more active, more productive lives by eating healthier diets and getting regular exercise. The third part of that healthy equation is sound, restorative sleep. Sleep Outfitters is in business to help people sleep better and, therefore, live better. The one-third of our lives that we spend sleeping directly affects the quality of the two-thirds we spend awake, which is why we say we're "outfitting you for a healthy life."

We sell America's best mattress brands--Tempur-Pedic, Sealy and Stearns & Foster. Tempur-Pedic's ads say they are the most highly recommended bed in America, and I believe it. They've certainly revolutionized the bedding industry. Stearns & Foster is our high-end innerspring line and the oldest mattress manufacturer in the country. It was founded in Cincinnati in 1846. And Sealy? Everybody knows Sealy. It's one of the most recognizable and trusted brand names in the world.
How did you get started? After I graduated from the University of Kentucky, I had a job with an insurance company. I would dress up and drive around Lexington in an un-air-conditioned car, and I would wait in offices for people to see me. That wasn't for me, but it taught me something -- that I wanted a job where customers would come to see me.
What is your background? The summer after my high school graduation, most of my friends went off for their last big fling before college. I went to work in a grocery store from midnight to 7 or 8 a.m. Then I got a job in a bed and bath store doing everything -- offloading trucks, stocking shelves and waiting on customers. I wasn't even 18 yet, but I learned a lot about all the facets of retail. And I liked it.
Who is your mentor? After graduation from UK, I answered an ad for a mattress store manager and met a guy named Bill Brown, who became a mentor and father figure to me. I told him my husband and I were probably going to move back to my husband's hometown in West Virginia, and Bill suggested I open a mattress store there. I opened my first store in South Charleston, W.Va. in 1983.
Describe your customers. Research indicates women are more likely than men to make a mattress-buying decision. Still, we see a lot of men in our stores. Regardless, people purchase a new mattress about every eight to 10 years, on average. And it can be a stress-inducing process to walk into a store a be confronted with all these beds and terms like wrapped coils and gel memory foam. In order to help customers make sense of it all, we invite them to take a free sleep assessment to determine which mattress is right for the way that customer sleeps. You know, some of us can get a good night's sleep anyplace, on the floor, outside on the ground even. But others of us need the right mattress and the right environment in order to sleep well. For the latter, our sleep assessment takes a whole lot of stress out of trying to make a decision about a product you purchase once every eight to 10 years.
What impacts your business? I'd say the technological and economic environments are the two that most affect our business. Mattress construction has gone high-tech with the myriad of materials used. Today, most beds, even innerspring support mattresses, have comfort layers constructed of gel and memory foam. Adjustable foundations, that allow you to raise and lower the head and foot of the bed to find the most comfortable sleeping positions, come with wireless remote control and massage features, plus smartphone charging USB ports. Now, if the economic environment is such that people cannot afford such features, customers are deprived of the technological advances and our sales suffer.
Name three things you wish you knew when you started. 1. In college I majored in inter-disciplinary studies, intending to become a diplomat. I wish I had recognized my love for retail and started my career earlier. 2. When I started, mattresses were just a commodity to be sold. I wish I'd better understood that good sleep is as important and diet and exercise for good health. 3. I always believed that if I wanted something badly enough, I could obtain it. Now, I know it.
What do you enjoy about the business? When I opened my first store, I learned to do everything: ordering, sales, bookkeeping, taxes, payroll, deliveries--all of it. Today, we have 160 stores, and I am still very much hands-on in all facets of the business. The technology advances, we have more people now, the enterprise is bigger, but I still love the daily management challenges and opportunities to learn.
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