Big John's moving into former Paty building

By Thomas Wilson

   Owners of Big John's Closeouts home improvement store plan to relocate into a new building with historic ties to the business in downtown Elizabethton.
   Big John's owner Michael E. Barnett purchased the former Paty Lumber building and surrounding property on West Elk Avenue from the Builders FirstSource-SNC company of Raleigh, N.C. Barnett said the store needed additional space to house the burgeoning home improvement product stock.
   "We've outgrown the building," said Barnett of the store's existing location on Cherokee Drive. "There is just a lot more room down there, and we need it."
   Big John's Closeouts stores were once owned by Paty until the company sold its stores five years ago. John C. Paty Sr. founded Paty Lumber in downtown Elizabethton in 1932 as a hardware and lumber company. Paty once operated seven building centers and three Big John's stores until BSL Holdings purchased the company's flagship stores in 1999. The Elizabethton store is the sole remaining Big John's store location and the last remnant of the Paty company.
   Barnett and his wife, Lynne Barnett, purchased the property for $350,000 according to the deed recorded Wednesday in the county register of deeds office. Builders FirstSource briefly operated a hardware store at the Elizabethton location until closing down two years ago.
   The Paty building had previously been leased to Carroll Carson Sanders who opened East Tennessee Motorsports. Sanders skipped town after being arrested in January on two counts of theft over $10,000. He continues to be sought by local law enforcement authorities on three warrants charging him with theft over $10,000 and a warrant charging him with theft over $1,000, according to the Circuit Court Clerk's office.
   Big John's specializes in building materials and home improvement fixtures at reduced prices. Barnett said the store expected to open in the new location by October.
   "We look forward to better serve our customers at the new location in the near future," he said.