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Altar’d State to open in Turkey Creek

Two local businessmen are opening a unique contemporary Christian book-coffee-music-apparel shop in Farragut, 11437 Parkside Drive, behind Red Robin.

Altar’d State Christian Store should soft open late this week, with a grand opening mid-November.

Aaron Walters and Brian Mason, who met while working for Goody’s, said opening the store was an inspired thought.

“We really got inspired to create something that really doesn’t exist today,” Mason said.

“As crazy as it sounds, if we’re going to start something and change something, now is the time,” Walters said.

“As gimmicky as it sounds, we want to change the world one store at a time,” he added.

Walters and Mason said the store will cater primarily to young adults, young families and those interested in the contemporary Christian mindset.

“The name of the company is Altar’d State … and really, what we mean by that is, to be a Christian, it doesn’t mean you have to live a boring life.

“It’s a transformation. It’s a different way of living … so that’s the reason for the Altar’d State [name],” Walters said. The title also plays off the altar of a church.

Many churches, Walters said, were now holding contemporary services and playing contemporary music, but the Christian retail industry wasn’t necessarily keeping up.

“There are awesome Christian stores in the marketplace that exist today, but I feel like they focus a little more on the traditional customer, and we focus on the contemporary customer.

“It’ll be a good fit,” Walters said.

The store will carry “a very wide assortment” of apparel and music, Walters said, as well as books, home décor and gift items.

“We’re going to carry brands that do good things,” he added, giving for example Tom Shoes, which gives away a pair of shoes in Africa for every pair bought.

Walters said he wanted the clothing and apparel to be fashionable but also have a positive message and impact.

The design of the business also was important to the pair.

Design elements are mostly modern, including poured concrete, reclaimed fixtures and even church pews, natural wood and exposed metal.

“We tried to use only renewable resources,” Walters said.

The store will include book, apparel, home décor and music areas, as well as a coffee bar and a stage. Seating areas will be scattered throughout the space.

“Bands can come in and play on Friday nights, and hang out with their friends and have an espresso or a smoothie,” Walters said.

Mason said he wanted the store to be a “third place,” where people could relax or perhaps hold a Bible study.

The store should be open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Saturday.

Walters and Mason have worked for several large retailers, including Macy’s, Wal-Mart, Walgreens, Kohls, Goody’s and Proffitt’s, among others.

The two are joining with another local businesswoman, Maryville-based Beth McDaniel, who has worked for Sacs, Proffitt’s and Goody’s.

The pair plans to open more stores in the region, providing not only a shopping experience but also jobs. Walters said he was deeply moved by the closure of Goody’s and the sight of so many losing their jobs.

“It really got me thinking … about what we can do here to build back some people, and build back jobs,” Walters said.

He and Mason said the store also would focus on giving back to the community, both through a positive work and shopping environment and through funding for camps and other ministerial outreaches.


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