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A new beginning to a familiar place

Saturday’s ribbon-cutting for Cornett Family Furniture’s grand re-opening in Mountain City. Pictured are Johnson County Mayor Mike Taylor, Owners Melissa Eller, Judy Gentry, Karla Andrews, and Mountain City Mayor Jerry Jordan. Photo by Dean Jones.

By Beth Cox
Freelance writer

It has been said that the heart of every thriving Tennessee city is a booming downtown district. It wasn’t too many years ago Mountain City had a vibrant downtown. A local hotel also housed both the post office and the library and a general mercantile store where the locals could find most everything they needed without leaving Mountain City.

There was also a successful furniture store that Karl and Edith Cornett owned. They ran the furniture store together for 69 years until Mr. Cornett’s death in 2018. A couple of years later, Mrs. Cornett passed away, and the family business went to their daughter Judy Gentry. With the blessing from their mother, the Cornett Family Furniture opened its doors once again. Gentry was not sure what to do with the business until her daughters Melissa Eller and Karla Andrews approached her about reopening the store and adding home décor along with selling furniture. The reason for opening the business back up was simple for Eller.

“I didn’t want Mom to sell it, or other people to come in and take over,” she said, adding, “Karla and I want to have a store where people can come for purchasing gifts for others or home decorating needs and not have to travel outside Mountain City.”

Eller’s and Andrews’ business ideas are ones of innovation and preservation. Their business venture is something that is needed in the area, but also preserving a legacy that they want to hold on to for a bit longer. As Gentry mentioned, “I bet my parents have touched the lives of nearly every household in Johnson County by the furniture store.”

Now with Eller’s knack for home décor and Andrews’ desire to keep selling furniture, Cornett Furniture will continue touching the lives of many in the county. As people visited the store’s grand opening Saturday, it was quite evident this is more than a business, but a tribute to those who have gone on and sweet memories of a time not so long ago where life was a little simpler and time with people was the most important part of the day.

The Cornett family posing with Temple Reece beside Mountain City’s new “Fly Away” mural. Artists Reece and Cristy Dunn painted the mural for the 2021 Long Journey Home Music Heritage festival as a memorial to the lives lost to COVID. Photo by Dean Jones.