(Editor's Note: the following editorial is being republished from the Shelbyville-Times Gazette)

Ronnie and Beth Reed opened their business, Middle Tennessee Hearth & Home, 206 Deery St. on March 16; they locked it down again on March 22, following advisement from Gov. Bill Lee in regard to COVID-19. This is not exactly how these new Shelbyville merchants wanted to start off their sales trends, but as they’ve reopened their showroom this week, business has taken back off at a nice pace.

“We knew we were opening in rainy season, but did not know what was about to happen . . . opening a week before the pandemic.”

It was difficult, Ronnie said, to put their “closed” sign in the window indefinitely after being open only a few days; they did have a big free cookout to celebrate their grand opening. What a detriment to the business community, they both said, when COVID-19 crept into Bedford County.

The Reeds have continued to do business online, despite not being able to open their showroom. But this week, they’re back up in grand fashion, showing off an assortment of gas, electric and wood-burning fireplaces (vent-free gas log sets) and top-of-the-line Primo charcoal and gas grills.

Also in the plumbing business, Ronnie notes they also specialize in tankless hot water heaters, which is another facet of their stor — one which has helped them to continue to operate as an “essential” business during COVID-19. The real burner, they said, was not being able to greet their public face-to-face for over a month.

To further compliment their hearth and home business, the Reeds also create live-edged custom tables, whereby the designer uses the wood’s natural edge as an accent. The customer counter one in their showroom features legs made from gas piping.

The Reeds note they plan to specialize in many such facets of hearth and home. They are really proud of their line of outdoor kitchens, which can be created in a multitude of styles.

While he’s the plumber, Ronnie credits Beth with the genius to include a floor model of their tankless water heaters. Beth adds that sales representatives have complimented them on the way they have showcased them.

“This way, people can see how they work.”

While their storeroom is new, this move is not the Petersburg couple’s first “rodeo” in business management. Ronnie, who hails from Murfreesboro, worked in the plumbing and fireplace trade for 26 years while Beth, a West Tennessee native, reveals she has earned four college degrees from the fields of animal science and nursing.

Beth wonders how her life would have been different, if she had still been working as a registered nurse on the front lines at a hospital. But, she’s good, even in the midst of a pandemic, of seeing the newest family business slowly come to fruition.

Modeled to look like a cozy home, the new showroom is fashioned with pictures of horses, another passion they’ve shared since their teens; they initially met at a horse show.

What horse breed do they prefer? Ronnie quickly quips, “What else is there? That would be Tennessee Walking Horses.”

With horses in training, the couple remain equally involved in the industry, serving as corporate sponsors for horse shows for several years. Ronnie, a 2019 Spring Fun Show winner, said he anticipates a lot of their industry friends coming by their showroom during the upcoming spring show, rescheduled for June and to be held this year in Maverick Stadium, rather than inside in Calsonic Arena, due to social distancing issues.

Though the traditional area spring horse shows have come to a brisk halt, due to COVID-19, the Reeds are optimistic that the TWHNC show in August will go on. And they plan to be right in the middle of it all, competing, but also offering specialty items by day at Middle Tennessee Hearth & Home for those horse show guests, in particular, like fire pits, gas lighting and authentic Jack Daniel brand grills.

The desire to have his own business was certainly a dream of Ronnie’s. As well, Beth needed to retire from nursing due to some health issues. The business partnership, in addition to the one in life, works for them; they’re both social and love to chat.

Decades later, they’re thankful to have a business which they can, albeit, reopen. Beth says in light of continued cases, the store is “being wiped down to the hilt” after customer visits.

Arranging decor on one of their mantles in the large showroom, the retired nurse and busy plumber, now key holders to a world of cozy fireplaces and brand name grills that even cook cakes, which thus far has been memorable. Beth compares starting a new business in the middle of a pandemic to scenes from the movie, “Ground Hog Day.” (Theme: lots of predicaments presenting themselves everyday, but easily solved in the end with a little hope.)

“We hope everyone is able to enjoy this beautiful weather while staying safe, healthy and socially distanced,” said Beth, still, with facial mask in tow.

The Reeds can be contacted during normal business hours, Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Middle Tennessee Hearth & Home, Shelbyville, is also online and on Facebook.