VOL. 111 | NO. 131 | Wednesday, July 16, 1997
By LAURIE JOHNSON
7th Inning begins
new Midtown store
By LAURIE JOHNSON
The Daily News
Memphis celebrity and sports memorabilia emporium 7th Inning has broken ground on a new 10,000-square-foot facility at 3040 Walnut Grove in Midtown.
The new free-standing building will provide the nine-year-old company, which also specializes in engraving and custom framing, with three times the space it has at its current location at 2865 Poplar Ave. in the Chickasaw Crossing Shopping Center.
The cost of building the new facility, which is expected to be completed in December, is estimated at $750,000, said 7th Inning owner Charlie Cleaves.
Cleaves said he decided to build the facility, which will located on property adjacent to the site chosen by the city for its new main library, because he was ready to invest in a permanent home for the business in order to expand.
Cleaves said that he decided to buck the current trend to migrate out east and keep his business in Midtown because he felt the location was centrally located to his clientele and because he feels a sense of loyalty to the citys central district.
"A lot of companies want to move out east, and theres certainly nothing wrong with that," he said. "Midtown and the inner city has been very good to us. I love it, and I just want to stay a part of it."
Construction began Monday on 7th Innings new building. Chris Woods Construction Co. of Memphis is the general contractor.
Cleaves said one of the most exciting aspects about the new facility, which was designed by Memphis architect Ron Scoby of Professional Design Resources, is that it will contain a 1,500-square-foot 50s style soda fountain.
The soda fountain, which will contain booths, a counter lined with revolving bar stools, wide-screen televisions and grandstand bleachers, will be open to the public during regular store hours and available for private parties and other events, such as childrens sports awards ceremonies.
"I wanted a place where kids could go," Cleaves said. "If you look around, there are not too many places they can go to watch a ball game that arent for adults, and where alcohol and such is served.
"This will be a place for them to kind of hang out and have a good time."
In addition to the soda fountain, 1,600 square feet of the facility will be designated as a gallery for 7th Innings collection of framed and mounted autographs, some of which are for sale, of U.S. presidents, entertainers, sports and political figures, and other celebrities.
Included in the collection are the signatures of Elvis Presley, Mick Jagger and Charlie Rich, as well as those of former presidents Thomas Jefferson, Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan.
Autograph collecting appeals to people of all ages, Cleaves said. He added that many collectors, like himself, start at an early age and continue throughout their lifetimes.
"There has always been a fantasy with collecting autographs," he said. "Weve always been interested in the mark of some man or woman, and through the years it has been a hobby that people have carried on. It is really neat to see a piece that Thomas Jefferson signed in 1801."
7th Innings new building also will contain a 1,500-square-foot custom framing workshop and a similarly sized engraving studio.
Demand for 7th Innings engraving services keeps the companys engraving staff busy 10 hours a day, seven days a week, Cleaves said, and the new facility will allow it to expand.
"We are going to increase our staff to where we will be able to produce a lot more," he said. Within the next year and a half, the engraving department will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Other features of the new building include a 4,000-square-foot card shop, which will carry a variety of sports cards, as well as a brick and wrought iron patio for soda fountain patrons.
The new facilitys plan also includes three administrative offices and an indoor loading dock.
The company, which Cleaves said he named after baseball fans favorite inning in which they can do the seventh inning stretch, currently has a staff of six.
This number is expected to double when the new store opens in December and is expected to reach more than 20 within the next year or so, he said.