During his studies at MTSU, Corey Williams lost 110 pounds by opting for a healthy lifestyle. That was eight years ago. Today, he’s hoping to bring the same healthy food choices to local residents and downtown shoppers.
Corey Williams recently purchased The Greenery on the Square from Judy Goldie and will reopen it as Pa Bunk’s Natural Market & Cafe on Dec. 2. (TMP/M. Hudgins)
He has plans to add Pa Bunk’s Natural Market & Café to Murfreesboro’s historic Square. Named after his grandfather, who raised a family of 12 on a farmer’s wages, Pa Bunk is a shortened version of Papa (which is what the kids called him) and Bunk (his nickname).
Williams embarks on this adventure with two sisters and their husbands – Shelia and Chris Ferrell and Karla and Russell Wood – along with best friend, Reid Bennett, and nephew Holden Wood, the latter of whom will help run the day-to-day operations.
After he graduated from MTSU with a degree in finance, the Carthage native joined the Army and moved back to Murfreesboro in July. Williams and his sister started researching stores like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods.
“I wanted to get into that because I enjoyed how much healthier it made me,” he said. “I wanted to take the knowledge I’ve learned … and share it. I kept looking around, and Murfreesboro was untapped for that kind of store.”
When The Greenery on the Square opened its doors in early August, owner Judy Goldie provided Williams a chance to get his feet wet.
“I got involved right before she opened,” he said. “We hadn’t talked about me buying it then; that came into play a couple of weeks ago.”
The Greenery on the Square offered customers a variety of organic and many locally-produced options, such as Health Nut Sandwich Company, Just Love Coffee, Jolly Llama, Positiffitea.
She opened the store and learned that it needed more groceries and a café, Williams continued. That’s when talk of selling the business arose.
“Sarah (Claeys) and I have really built a wonderful foundation here … it needed to be taken to the next level with groceries,” Goldie said.
“Corey is the man for the job. He already had the idea, and we reached out to him. Pa Bunk’s is the first organic store in Murfreesboro, ever. And we’ll have it right down here on the Square.”
The Greenery on the Square served as a landmark on the timeline for Goldie and Claeys – both are going to continue excelling in their respective areas.
“At this point in the game, I’m going to focus on what I’ve been doing for 23 years – selling great quality clothing and accessories,” Goldie said.
Claeys will continue offering her Health Nut Sandwich Company products at Just Love Coffee Roasterie and the MAC, and they’ll be hitting vending machines across Middle Tennessee before long. Health Nut is also offered as a healthy lunch option at Providence Christian Academy. Additionally, she’s launching a retail food line to market to grocery stores.
In the meantime, Health Nut will maintain its presence at Pa Bunk’s, if only for a little while longer.
The new shop is going to offer what most supermarkets provide – on a smaller scale of course and with the exception of a meat department. That said, Williams has discussed with local meat suppliers about having some fresh options available in a cooler. He’ll also triple the amount of groceries currently available inside The Greenery.
“All that will be coming down the line before the first of the year,” he said. “We’re going to try to focus on a nice mix of gluten free, vegetarian, vegan and organic. I want it to be a healthy stop for eating. I’m not carrying any foods that have any genetically modified organisms or high fructose corn syrup.”
Pa Bunk’s will open on Dec. 2, just in time for the downtown Christmas tree lighting.
“We want to get (everything) done before we open, but there are so many moving parts, I don’t know if it will all fall into line just like I want to.”
Williams is referring to the oatmeal breakfast bar, complete with a caldron of oatmeal and various toppings, a juice bar and an espresso café, among others. He will also maintain relationships with local producers.
“We’re going to try and incorporate as much local as we can,” he said, adding that Jolly Llama and Positiffitea will continue to be available at Pa Bunk’s.
“As time goes by, we’ll learn about more local stuff and try to incorporate as much as we can. I feel that working together is what binds us all and makes us better. If we work together, it makes us stronger.”
He explained how the shop will offer a small selection of supplements, but not too many because that’s what Sunshine Nutrition Center offers.
“We’ll be complementing other businesses, not replacing them,” Williams continued. “We want to be a complement to everybody and pull stuff from around the region together where it’s in one location.”
This idea, he says, allows customers to do their shopping at one place instead of traveling to each individual store. By the first of next year, Pa Bunk’s will be open extended hours – from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 1-6 p.m. on Sunday – to make it more accessible to shoppers.