Patti Gray, manager of the Parent-Teacher Store in Franklin, has kept a count of comments that customers have made regarding the “Business for Sale” sign on the store’s front window. // Photo by John McBryde
By JOHN McBRYDE
Chris Baber, a fifth grade math teacher at Scales Elementary School in Brentwood, recently walked into the Parent-Teacher Store in Franklin and needed some reassurance.
He had just seen a sign on the front of the store’s building that said “Business for Sale, Retiring.”
“Please don’t tell me you’re going out of business,” he said to the store’s manager, Patti Gray, and one of the sales clerks, Irene McCray. “I don’t know what I would do if you left.”
The sign has been up for a little over a month, and Gray said there have been a few people who have come in and shown some interest in possibly buying the store. The overwhelming majority, however, are teachers and parents who have expressed concern similar to Baber’s. She is keeping a log of those who have commented, and as of Tuesday afternoon had counted well over 100.
“The first thing they want to know is if we’re closing,” said Gray, who has been with the Parent-Teacher Store for about 10 years. “We reassure them that it’s just the owners are ready to retire and they want to find someone to buy the store and leave it like it is.”
The owners of the store are Stan and Cody Young of Bowling Green, Kentucky. Now 77 and 76, respectively, the Youngs opened the first of what would officially become the Parent-Teacher Store USA Inc. in Goodlettsville a little more than 30 years ago. They opened a second in the 1980s in Lexington, Kentucky, and eventually totaled nine stores in Kentucky, Tennessee and Alabama. The Franklin store has been at its location at 1113 Murfreesboro Road since 1998.
It’s one of the better-performing stores in the Youngs’ lineup.
“Teachers could not do without this place,” McCray said. “And they come from all over, even out of state.”
Young said his goal is to find buyers for the Franklin store and three others — in Bowling Green, Lexington and Hoover, Alabama — and have them stay as they are. He and Cody own the name, but would authorize the new owners to continue using it.
The Youngs have already closed two under-performing stores and plan to close two more, including one in Green Hills.
The Parent-Teacher Store caters to parents and teachers, of course, especially those with children or who teach children in grades K-6. Customers also include daycare centers, churches and a growing number of home schoolers.
“You talk to anybody that’s a teacher or knows anything about educational materials, they know about us,” Young said. “Because you have to go a long way before you find another store like ours.
“About 80 percent of our product can’t be found anywhere else. … We sell about everything a teacher uses in the classroom.”
Baber can attest to that. He said many parents of Scales students will even give teachers gift cards for the Parent-Teacher Store.
“It’s a convenience factor,” Baber said. “I know lots of teachers who come here and rely on this place. It’s so central to many of the schools, and it’s good to be able to see what something looks or feels like. You can’t do that online.”