Wiseman’s owner Denise Farner stands in front of a display inside the store which has served this area for 50 years. (Erwin Record Staff Photo by Richard Rourk)

By Richard Rourk

According to the recent data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, less than 21 percent of small businesses survive 20 years. Roughly 49 percent of new businesses fail within the first 5 years.

Scientists at the Sante Fe Institute in New Mexico have come up with a theory of how long a business will last. The number the study provides is 10 years. The average business, no matter what they are selling, will last 10 years.

However, Wiseman’s store, which is located in the Town of Unicoi is not average.

Wiseman’s first opened its doors for business back in 1965. The business owners were Jeff and Arnold Wiseman. According to their website, they wanted to showcase brands that were as tough and hardworking as the families and farmers they served in East Tennessee.

The Wisemans sold the company in 1989 to the Farner family, the same family that owns Johnny’s Shoes. Johnny’s Shoes was founded in 1967 with the same hardworking families and farmers in mind. According to their website, most people couldn’t afford to give up on a good pair of shoes in those days so they took them to Johnny’s Shoes for repairs. This is a service still offered today inside of Wiseman’s.

Shoe repair is just one of many reasons shoppers go to Wiseman’s. The selection is very diverse in selection and sizes.

“Our sizes run from a men’s 30-60 in store,” said owner Denise Farner Webb. “Our selection is huge and vast in varieties and sizes.”

The store itself could be described as huge and vast.

“The store is 14,000 square feet of shopping experience,” Webb also said.

Customer service is a key component to Wiseman’s success.

“Our customers are special,” Webb said. “Without them, we would not be here.”

The focus on customer service for the family-owned Wiseman’s is paramount.

“We pride ourselves on taking care of our customers,” Webb said. “We want our customers to be lifelong customers. We want them to tell their family and friends to come.”

The customers feel the same way towards Wiseman’s.

“Wiseman’s is a very unique store that has been very influential to Unicoi,” said Town of Unicoi Communications & Programs Director and Wiseman’s customer Ashley Cavender.

A 50-year anniversary celebration will be held at Wiseman’s on Saturday, Oct. 6, beginning at 9 a.m. There will be a sidewalk sale and food available by Bite Food Truck. There will be live entertainment by Justin Crider at 2 p.m. WXBQ will be on location with prizes. Wiseman’s will also have a free drawing for brand name giveaways including pairs of Timberland Boots, Keen Footwear, and pairs of Wrangler Jeans.

In addition to the store celebrating more than 50 years of service for both Wiseman’s and Johnny’s Shoes, this event will be a grand reopening as the store has recently been remodeled.

“We put down new floors and added some new spaces to the store,” Webb said.

For more information please, check out Wiseman’s Facebook page. Wiseman’s is open Monday-Thursday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., on Friday-Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Sundays from 1-6 p.m.