Tennessee Mountain Tours started off as a small little retail shop with big dreams. We began our journey in the Glades of Gatlinburg, TN where we offered up hiking supplies and guided tours. From there we failed badly and were forced to change how we operated. We decided to move our shop to downtown Gatlinburg in the former River Bend Mall (now Ole Red's). We tried once again to grab a foot hold and created new tours for the downtown area to very little success. We knew our stories were the kind people love to hear. We always got great feed back on how wonderful it was to hear tales from real locals. It was at this point we decided to abandon the store which was very expensive to operate. We left the hiking supply store scene completely and we focused on what we did best ... tell stories.
We bought our first bus and we created 3 unique and entertaining tours. Our first year as a tour company was rocky but ultimately successful. It paid some bills and helped us move into the next year with a little bit of capitol. We decided then to hire a new guide to help us and to expand our offerings. We added our now famous Moonshine & Wine tour that year as well. It was an instant hit ... who knew people would enjoy a ride around town tasting lots of moonshine and wine. With our new guide and our new tour helping bring us more attention our second year was very good. We added 2 new buses and another guide to the roster for the next year. We are still a very small company but we have big dreams. Our core value is still in telling great stories. We don't just want to tell you history, you can find that in any book. We want our passengers to hear stories like they were told to us for generation after generation. We are not just guides, we are entertainers. We want to make your time in the smoky Mountains memorable, educational, and most of all fun.
Moving into 2019 we wanted to give our guests a nice comfortable place to relax and get information before a tour begins. We have had a working relationship with the facility we have been using but this past fall a shop came vacant. We learned of it and then put into motion plans to lease the space to create a lounge for our guests. Most folks had little issue of sitting in their car waiting for the tour to begin but to us that seemed, uncomfortable, or at the very least inconvenient. We had a lot of folks who booked tours tell us they couldn't find us because they were looking for an actual store or office rather than a small bus in a parking lot. We had a lot of folks who went to our old Gatlinburg location listed on Google because Google wouldn't update our address unless we had a real brick and mortar location. For all these different reasons we felt opening the lounge was the next logical step for our success and to make our guests less confused and more relaxed. We have only just begun the planning stage but we want people to feel comfortable while they wait on their tour to begin. We also wanted to provide a place for those who want to come in to purchase tickets the old fashioned way instead of doing it online or over the phone. We will have relaxed seating areas with TV and phone chargers. A place where you can get answers about our different tours or just about the area. We may possibly have light refreshments either free or at cost.
Photo of the shop as it looked when we signed the lease
We are still very early on in the process. At the time of this blogs writing we haven't even got the store cleared out yet of all the old things the previous tenants left behind (as you can see in the photo above). We hope to have ample seating and plenty of information and things to help you feel comfortable while waiting for your tour to begin. We are also crunching ideas to rent bicycles (electric and standard) for use on the newly constructed greenway that passes right in front of our facility. This beautiful and scenic greenway takes you from the Pigeon Forge community center all the way to Patriot Park and follows the Little Pigeon River the entire way. We enjoy walking and riding it ourselves and we think some of you might like to enjoy it as well without having to bring your bike all the way from home. As I have mentioned we are just a small company and we very much appreciate each and every one of our guests. We love to share our stories with you and we want your time with us to be amazing. Not just your time on our tours, your entire vacation in the Smoky Mountains. From day one to time to go home we want you to see the best sights, hear the best stories, see the best shows, taste the best food ... so you will come see us again year after year. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the only park created by the people, for the people through tremendous effort and sacrifice. Our relatives and ancestors gave up a lot to get here and then to give it up so that this park would come to fruition. Come learn our stories and fall in love with these amazing mountains even more.