Startups Are Thriving in Maury County
Local business owners are attracted to the growth in Maury County
Business is booming in Maury County, where a number of startups have set up shop in recent years, drawn by lower rents, a calmer pace of life and a welcoming community that embraces all things local.
Here are some recent arrivals that call Maury County home.
Take the look and feel of a brewery or distillery – large open spaces, an industrial vibe, customers relaxing in the front while work takes place in the back – then translate it to the manufacturing of tobacco pipes, and you basically have BriarWorks in Columbia.
BriarWorks began in Nashville in 2012 as a pipe-making wholesaler, creating a handcrafted product sold in small batches to retailers worldwide.
“They’re production pipes, but they have a lot more attention to detail and it’s a higher quality than your typical factory pipe,” says Pete Prevost, company president.
Because so few pipe manufacturers operate in the U.S., BriarWorks began attracting visitors interested in seeing the workshop.
So in 2018, BriarWorks moved into a 1940s building on Main Street in Columbia “to create more of a destination for our factory,” Prevost says.
Now, in addition to the manufacturing space, BriarWorks has a 2,000-square- foot pipe-and-cigar lounge that includes a walk-in humidor and draft beer for sale.
“There’s been exciting growth happening in Maury County the last few years, and we want to be a part of it,” Prevost says.
Shelly Snyder started Sweet Bakes in 2014 as a home-based bakery selling to coffee shops in Nashville. She soon took her product on the road in a 40-year-old converted camper and made her first appearance in Maury County at the Columbia Farmers Market in 2016.
Snyder says she was warmly welcomed by the community, and a year later established a permanent home for Sweet Bakes now on Trotwood Avenue, where she produces a variety of doughnuts, cakes, cookies and the popular Vanilla Cake Pops.
“We loved this area so much that it seemed natural to continue to build and grow our business here,” Snyder says. “There’s something special about this community. It’s very authentic and genuine. We made connections with many of the other local businesses, and they were so open to helping us grow our business. It just felt like this was the best place for us to be.
“It’s nice to have family traditions, like getting together for Saturday morning doughnuts,” Snyder says. “We’re seeing a lot of families coming to Maury County, and we want to help them start their own traditions."
Hay Long Hall
They are making a joyful noise once again at Hay Long Hall in Mt. Pleasant. The former Episcopalian church building, which dates to the 1890s, has been transformed into an entertainment venue and community gathering space.
Owner Michelle Morgan says she “instantly fell in love” with the building when she first saw it, and quickly envisioned its potential as a place for live music. A few events were held at the venue in 2018, followed by the official grand opening on March 1 of this year.
“Most downtown residents can walk to Hay Long Hall and hear amazing talent of all genres,” she says. “My intention is to bring in every style and background of music.”
In addition to regular concerts and open-mic singer-songwriter showcases, Hay Long Hall is used for weekly movie nights and is available for weddings and other events.
“Maury County has provided me with everything I’ve needed to be able to grow as an entrepreneur here,” Morgan says. “There’s something very wonderful about a community coming around and participating in your dreams and being a part of it.”
Spring Hill Bakery
Folks in Spring Hill no longer have to go over the river and through the woods to get a taste of the food served at grandmother’s house. That’s because handmade bread and other baked goods are now easily available at Spring Hill Bakery.
“We make the comfort-food sort of baking that reminds you of your childhood. Cookies, cinnamon rolls, muffins – the things they always had for you at grandma’s house,” says owner Sarah Gonzalez, who takes her role in making rolls so seriously that she goes by the nickname, The Bread Lady.
Gonzalez began baking with her family as a child, so it was only natural that she wanted to turn this lifelong passion into a full-time profession. She started it as a home-based business in 2015, then moved into a small house on Hardin Alley in Spring Hill that she converted into a bakery in 2018.
“We landed in exactly the right spot for our business. It’s an older house, so it speaks to the nostalgia of what we do,” Gonzalez says. “I treat this like it’s my own house, and I get to enjoy having people come in and eat cake with me. I’m just really grateful for the opportunity to be able to serve the community the way we do."