Across town, voters line up to cast their ballot at the county courthouse, locals schools and churches. However, Bud’s Tire Pro, the smallest voting precinct in Rutherford County, is experiencing a typical day of business.
With no sign of voters in the store, owner Bud Mitchell is out cutting down a tree while his wife Kay Mitchell sits in the back room, tending to the shop’s business. A few moments later, Bud returns to the shop around lunch time, not surprised by the low turnout.
“Last election we only had about 10 voters come into the store,” Bud said without the slightest hint of exhaustion. “Today, so far, we’ve only had five.”
Several years ago, Bud says the precinct was located at his father’s shop, Wilson & Mitchell Hardware, but he moved it when his father grew tired of the inconvenience on election day.
“We moved out here in ‘46, and right before 1978 is when [my father] got the precinct to where we could vote [at Wilson & Mitchell Hardware],” Bud said. “Daddy didn’t like it because a lot of people were coming in, so I decided to move [the precinct] over here in the early ’90s.”
After attending MTSU for two years, Bud decided that he had learned more growing up in his father’s shop than he was in school. After his father died, Bud took over the shop and moved it to its current location in 1987.
“I sold the goods,” Bud says about his father’s tire shop. “I bought it back 15 years later, but instead I made [the store] all hardware.”
Back in business
Once a small block building alongside East Main Street, Bud’s Tire has shaped into a much larger structure over the past 27 years. However, seven years ago a blazing fire left the shop in a pile of ash, and the Mitchells wasted no time rebuilding the family business.
“We actually had a fire truck in [the shop] and as soon as [the fire] started, my daughter ran down and pulled the truck out,” Bud says. “The fire chief was here and every drop of water used wouldn’t even put [the fire] out.”
Although it has never been confirmed, Bud says he believes the fire was caused by natural gas powering a central heat and air unit in the back of the store. After losing three days of service, the family set up shop across the street, and three months later, Bud’s Tire was reopened for business.
“I’m not saying it was a blessin’ that it burned down,” Bud says, his eyes peering around the shop, “but it sure was a blessin’ the way it came back together.”
Shifting of ownership
Bud’s Tire is family owned and operated and open “six and a half days a week.” Bud says his daughter Alison Warrick has recently begun working full-time with plans to one day take over the business. Warrick, a paramedic at Rutherford Country EMS, has spent her entire life around the shop, and Bud says she knows the store as much as the rest of the family.
“She’s good with people,” he said. “And that’s one of the most important parts of owning a business.”
Today, Bud says the shop remains successful due to its family nature and friendly service. He says that customers are familiar with the shop and have developed a trusting relationship with the staff over the years.
“Even though we’re not all family, it still feels like we’re all family,” Bud said, smiling. “We’re all close and everybody that works here [now] has worked here for years.”
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