#LovingtheLocal with Northshore/Realty Center Insurance

When you are looking for insurance it helps to have an agent who will be honest and keep your best interests at the forefront of any conversation, and that is exactly what you will get when you deal with the representatives at Northshore/Realty Center Insurance. Protecting your home, business, and family is a big responsibility and one that Vickie Champion and her staff take seriously. If you are looking for home, commercial, or life insurance get in touch with Vickie and her team at Northshore/Realty Center Insurance.

The NorthShore/Realty Center Team Kim Love, Kathy Butcher, Vickie Champion,  Betty Cooper, Rebecca Carpenter

The NorthShore/Realty Center Team
Kim Love, Kathy Butcher, Vickie Champion, Betty Cooper, Rebecca Carpenter

#LovingtheLocal with Mountain Top Toys


The Holland family — Joanna, Patrick, and their adorable daughters

Whether you have kids or not, chances are you’ll find something to love about Mountain Top Toys. We asked Patrick Holland to share a little about the shop’s history and he sent us this excellent description:

Mountain Top Toys has been serving Signal Mountain and the Chattanooga area since 1992. The only non-franchise specialty toy store in southeast Tennessee, the business most recently came under new ownership when Patrick and Joanna Holland took over in March of 2013.

Previously, Patrick spent 13 years as an entrepreneur and executive at Mindspark Interactive, an Internet company based out of New York. There, he headed up a Creative Department responsible for both marketing and content creation, and a team focused on new product development and testing.  He manages the day-to-day activities of the store and is the primary buyer.

Joanna is employed at Signal Energy in Chattanooga as a Project Manager, and assists at the store on weekends as well as with business finances and taxes. Joanna and Patrick have two daughters, ages 7 and 6.

Under the Hollands, Mountain Top Toys has kept its 22-year-long focus of offering unique, specialty toys and gifts, while making a concerted effort to also seek out new toy lines via resources like Kickstarter. The business is often the first in the area to offer children and their parents early access to new lines created by entrepreneurs around the country.

The store offers free gift wrapping and a birthday bin program that recently went digital allowing parents of birthday party guests and out of town relatives to browse “wish list” items selected by the birthday boy or girl. This can be at the customer’s leisure via smartphone, tablet or computer without having to be in the store.

Mountain Top Toys also recently introduced online shopping via a third party partnership that allows inventory to be sold and shipped without ever having to enter the store. “It’s a great way to support your local toy store, even when you need to ship something across the country,” says Patrick. “And we like it because there is no risk of us having to pull inventory away from our loyal local base for out-of-the-area online orders.”

As part of a supportive and family-focused community, the store makes it a priority to give back to local and area schools and charities. For more information on these programs, visit their website’s About page.

Mountain Top Toys participates in the annual Holiday Ho Ho Expo at the Chattanooga Convention Center each November, and is open Monday-Saturday from 10am-6pm at their 1231 Taft Highway location in Signal Mountain.

If you need a special gift for a special kid, or you just love toys, take the time to drive up Signal Mountain and browse the selection at Mountain Top Toys. You’ll probably leave with a cool, new toy!

#LovingtheLocal with Alan Neal & Associates


Alan Neal is a professional and good at what he does. He also courteous, punctual, and detail-oriented — all the qualities you want in a CPA. Alan is the owner of Alan Neal & Associates, a financial Business Chartsadvisory, accounting, and tax firm located in Chattanooga. The firm specializes in helping businesses examine how their operating systems impact cash flow.

Small business owners can feel overwhelmed with all the details involved in running a business. Alan and his team can help. They provide a personalized, tailored approach designed specifically for each client’s situation. From policies and procedures to systems and bookkeeping, Alan’s team helps businesses succeed. If you are looking for financial advice, accounting, or tax services, give Alan a call. He’ll be happy to help!

#LovingtheLocal with Area 61

Area 61 is part of the burgeoning arts scene on the Southside of Chattanooga. Originally, the gallery was going to feature works of art made from wood but it quickly evolved to include all sorts of beautiful, handcrafted art. From jewelry to painting to sculpture to furniture, you’ll find it all — and much, much more! Owners David and Keeli Crewe have done a fantastic job of creating a comfortable atmosphere that is a bit unusual for an art gallery. You’ll probably want to pull up a chair and enjoy the ambiance for awhile when you visit.

On May 5, 2014, Area 61 celebrated their five year anniversary. Having opened during a serious economic downturn, things were touch and go at times, but by finding and showcasing gorgeous work from local artists and craftspeople, as well as by contributing to the community, Area 61 pulled through the most difficult period for most new businesses.

A fun time to visit the gallery is during the Southside Stroll, the last Friday of each month from 5-8pm. (It’s the perfect thing to do just before Nightfall!). Many of the artists are at the gallery during the Strolls. The next Southside Stroll is Friday, June 27, and Area 61 will be featuring a new body of work by local artist Bob Fazio, called Italy Reimagined.

Take a look!

area 61 door, logo

Come on in!



David and Keeli Crewe

David and Keeli Crewe


There's a LOT to see!

There’s a LOT to see!


Every corner is filled with beautiful things.

Every corner is filled with beautiful things.



#LovingtheLocal with Push Hard Lumber Company

Rudd and Becky Montgomery operate Push Hard Lumber Company from their home. The shop is just steps away from their beautiful, rustic cabin, and their lush flower gardens make the view outstanding. Push Hard is locally owned and operated, and uses local lumber to the extent possible. The vast majority of the furniture built at Push Hard is from reclaimed lumber, though they will also sawmill trees that have fallen or been taken down by someone else. Rudd says, “We never sentence trees to death.”

Push Hard creations are unique pieces of art and are  of heirloom quality. Whether you need a chair, bench, table, stool, or mantel, if you purchase it from Rudd, you will be getting something that will last for generations. You are welcome to visit the shop — it’s best to call 423-517-0089 first to make sure Rudd will be there to talk with you and give you directions — or, you can see Push Hard work at the gallery Area 61 on Main Street.








#LovingtheLocal with Green Thumbs Galore

It’s spring time and that has many ‘Noogans out in their gardens, stalking the aisles at local nurseries, and generally enjoying the beauty and bounty of the great

The Green Thumbs Galore greenhouse.

The Green Thumbs Galore greenhouse.

outdoors. This week our #lovingthelocal featured business can help you make your garden more colorful, whimsical, welcoming to wildlife,  varied — or whatever else you’d like your yard to be!

Green Thumbs Galore is a local nursery operated by Jeff and Belle Jarret. The couple runs the business from their home on Missionary Ridge, where they transformed the property from a kudzu-covered hill into a beautiful and colorful garden.

Belle says she loves helping her customers be successful in their gardens with interesting plants, and showing them that something really nice doesn’t have to be expensive or difficult to care for. It doesn’t hurt that she always has an excuse for having dirty fingernails, either!

“I love when customers send me pictures of their gardens,” Belle says.  She is dedicated to answering questions, and solving gardening mysteries when she can. Even if you don’t consider yourself a gardener, you should check out Green Thumbs Galore. You may also want to connect with them on Facebook: They also host driveway sales twice a year, so you can visit with Belle and Jeff, and see their beautiful gardens, and probably find a plant or two that would fit in perfectly at your house!


#LovingtheLocal: Northgate Family Chiropractic

If you are interested in learning about chiropractic care, or if you are looking for a new chiropractor, you should go and visit with Dr. Aaron DrTruongTruong at Northgate Family Chiropractic. Dr. Truong sets himself apart by practicing several techniques that few others in Chattanooga do, including the Gondstead and Applied Kinesioloby chiropractic methods, as well as nutritional testing and alignment of the extremities.

Northgate Family Chiropractic has been in business in Chattanooga for 11 years, and says that he and his patients often see immediate results from his adjustments. “It’s very neat,” he says. He considers himself a wellness doctor more than anything, and strives to help patients be healthy overall.

Dr. Truong is currently accepting new patients, and is in the office all day on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and is willing to see people by appointment on other days. He advises, “Spinal and extremities checkups are as important as a regular dental checkups.  Spinal and extremities misalignment can cause a lot of pain and discomfort.  Early detection and treatments can help patient feeling a lot better and maybe avoid any invasive procedures down the road.  Give us a call if you are tired of living in pain and discomfort even after trying many types of cares.”

Mention this post for a free consultation and exam. You can reach Northgate Chiropractic at 423-843-1606, or drop in (on Monday, Wednesday, or Friday) at 5104 Hwy 153 in Hixson.

#LovingtheLocal: Change-N-Go

How many times have you put off having your oil changed because you didn’t have time to get it done? A new company in Chattanooga, Change-N-Go, is revolutionizing how Chattanoogans get their oil changed. Change-N-Go comes to YOU. So, while you are at work, and your car is in the parking lot, they will come and change your oil. You don’t waste valuable evening or weekend time change n go 2— and their prices are competitive with other service stations.

Owner James Chapman says that he came up with the idea for his business by “thinking like a consumer.” He said he needed an oil change himself one day but thought, “I hate going to get my oil changed,” and he wished there was some other way to do it. He did a bit of research and found that there are services in other cities that go to customers and do oil changes, but nothing like that existed in Chattanooga.

Encouraged, James continued researching, put together a business plan, got funding, and launched Change-N-Go last October. He says they do one big thing differently than similar services in other places though: “We added some useful technology. For example, we have an app you can download for scheduling.” Makes sense that an oil change company in the Gig City would take advantage of the convenience of technology!

Sometimes, customers ask when Change-N-Go will start offering batteries, air filters, windshield wipers, and other products normally sold at service centers. He says maybe someday. “We don’t ever want our customers to feel pressured. If we do add services, they will be available, but we won’t try to upsell our customers.” For now, Change-N-Go will focus on oil changes and inspections. “All of our technicians are ASE certified, and we do a full inspection with each oil change. If there is something wrong, we will let you know, and make suggestions about where you might want to go to get it fixed. Since we don’t gain anything, our customers know we are telling the truth,” James says.

If you are intrigued and you need your oil changed, make an appointment. You can save $2 on an oil change by mentioning this blog post! You can schedule on the Change-N-Go website, or by calling 423-228-0450.

#LovingtheLocal with Chattanooga Massage Therapy

Most people think of relaxation when they think of massage, but at Chattanooga Massage Therapy you get more than an hour of relaxation. Owner Rob Eldridge prides himself on making sure clients understand the core of the problem causing their pain, and helps patients learn how to care for themselves and avoid future problems.

Operating out of the newly opened RVR City Functional Fitness Facility, Chattanooga Massage Therapy is one of several fitness and

RVR City Functional Fitness and Chattanooga Massage Therapy located just off Broad St on W. 31st.

RVR City Functional Fitness and Chattanooga Massage Therapy located just off Broad St on W. 31st.

health businesses coming together to help members reach their fullest fitness potential. RVR City Functional Fitness is set to become the city’s premier strength and fitness training facility, will offer a variety of programs for adults and kids. RVR City has applied to become a CrossFit affiliate, as well.

“We are proud to be part of this community of people focused on health and fitness,” says Rob. In addition to massage, Rob offers many other services including organic spray tanning — which is important this time of year. “No one should be taking chances tanning in the sun. Everyone who wants a tan should be getting a spray tan to avoid the risk of cancer,” said Rob.

Another new service from Chattanooga Massage Therapy is a couples training session. Rob will teach a partner or spouse massage techniques to help his client stay pain free between appointments. The training can be done either in his studio or at the client’s home.

We highly recommend Rob and Chattanooga Massage Therapy to anyone who is seeking a massage therapist who does more than help you relax for a few hours! You can make an appointment by calling 423-619-6836, or by using the handy online scheduler.







#LovingtheLocal: The Longhorn Restaurant

Not too long ago, our friend @ModernSauce posted a photo of The Longhorn Restaurant on Instagram. That got us thinking about how many awesome local businesses there are in Chattanooga, and how they get overshadowed by the chains so often. Everyone knows about The Waffle House, right? But not nearly so many people know about The Longhorn Restaurant. You’ve probably driven past it on North Market:

Longhorn sign (correct)

photo credit: ModernSauce



You may be wondering what’s so great about The Longhorn? Here are just a few things we love about it:

  • The look — the vintage decor sets the mood for an excellent diner meal.
  • The food — it’s just GOOD.
  • The service — friendly and thorough.

The Longhorn is only open for breakfast and lunch, and is located at 129 North Market Street — in the same plaza as Taco Mamacita and ClearSpring Yoga. You can’t miss the oddly shaped building.

In an effort to share some of our other favorite local spots, we are starting a new series called Loving the Local. Each week, we’ll feature a business, organization, or citizen who helps make Chattanooga a great place to live.  Our friends at Pearl & Associates Real Estate have decided to show some local love, too. They are giving away a $25 gift certificate to The Longhorn Restaurant (plenty for breakfast for two!) on May 1. There are two ways to enter the drawing:

1. Subscribe to the Pearl & Associates newsletter. You’ll get emails once or twice a month about all sorts of local real estate topics — how to sell a home faster, what kind of credit score and savings you need to buy a home, special programs, taking care of your house, and much more.

2. If you are already subscribed, you can still enter the drawing. Simply forward the Pearl & Associates newsletter to a friend.

Do you have a favorite locally owned business that you’d like us to feature? Let us know in the comments!

Meet a Reynold’s Real Mom

This week I had the pleasure of interviewing Tiffany Merritt.  Tiffany runs a blog called Stuff Parents Need, which hosts amazing giveaways and stories from her fun filled life. In addition she is a busy mom of two girls.  Recently Tiffany was selected as one of Reynold’s Real Moms. I had the opportunity to delve into the life of this local celeb and share her personal story with you:



When did you start blogging?:

I started 7 weeks after my daughter Darah was born,in September of 2009. I was on maternity leave and I had still had energy at that time. I was ready to share my parenting expertise with the blogging world. It was like I had two babies two weeks apart, Darah and the blog.

What is the most difficult thing about blogging for you?:

I think the most difficult thing is getting readers to engage, typically about 3% of readers will respond. Bloggers crave comments, they are like the gifts of the blogging world. It’s nice when people reach out to you and connect. It’s also my own business and so sometimes it’s hard to be your own boss and stay motivated.

What is the biggest recent event in your blogging life?:

I was recently selected to be a spokeperson for the Reynold’s company. I will be a Reynold’s real mom. I have filmed 9 demonstration videos. I will do post and videos throughout the year and I will be in three national magazines. It’s a wonderful opportunity and it’s wonderful that Reynold’s  is hiring real moms. They are taking an exciting approach with great ideas on how to help women and men use their products to improve their dishes.

How do you balance blogging with home life?:

I need to make peace with the fact that I will never perfectly balance anything on any given day. I wake up between 3:30-4 am everyday so that I can have peaceful quiet writing time while the kids sleep.  I have to carve out the hours of quiet time, some days the blog suffers more and sometimes the house cleaning suffers. However, I never take my time with my daughters for granted because I understand that they are growing up and that I can’t get that time back. I really have to prioritize my time and make sure that I get my blogging requirements finished.

Did you take a break from blogging when your second daughter, Layah,  was born?:

Not really, I had some guest post which helped. I may have a had a week off but that’s it because it’s incredibly difficult to stop blogging and for the blog to stay alive. Social media is a fast and vast river and if you don’t have something in the current then people won’t have anything to cling onto.

You went on trip for Reynold’s recently, how did manage your blog while doing that?

I planned ahead and I had every post while I was gone, scheduled.

Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers?:

I’m so flattered and honored to have folks get to know me, thankyou! I just want bloggers to know it’s not easy but please don’t give up on this. Especially when people tell you that your time isn’t important, because it is. There are so many opportunities and relationships available in the blogging world.  You can’t buy the kind of publicity that these communities offer. It’s a copacetic relationship with companies because they
are really listening and responding to their costumers and it’s a very exciting time for bloggers.

Thankyou so much to Tiffany Merritt! Please visit her blog and keep your eye out for her appearances on television as a Reynold’s Real Mom.

The Domestic FruitLoop