nashville zoo sets new attendance record

img_7930the nashville zoo set a new record for attendance in 2016, up 10.6% from 2015.  894,161 visited our furry friends last year, up from the last record set in 2014 by 7.2%.  2017 marks the 20th anniversary of the nashville zoo at grassmere.  to celebrate the 20th anniversary, the zoo is offering a special carload price for the first two weekends in january: for $20 per car, everyone in the car gets admission to the zoo and the price includes parking (limited to 10 per car…no clown cars).  the dates for the 20th anniversary carload price are january 7 & 8 and january, 14, 15 and martin luther king’s day on the 16th.img_7952

the zoo’s birthday year will also see four new additions: a white rhinoceros exhibit and a spider monkey exhibit both open in march,  a bear exhibit in may and a tiger exhibit in july.

the zoo will also host its annual “zoo run run 5k” this month on saturday, january 21. to sign up, click here.  all the proceeds go to zoo operations, including education programs for children, feeding over 2,300 animals and keeping our zoo safe and clean for visitors.


game of thrones to hold first-ever worldwide convention in nashville

Game-of-Thrones-Season-6-00005-1200x798fresh off what some are calling their best episode to date, the show’s fan site watchers on the wall announced earlier this week  that a con of thrones plan has been firmed up.  nashville will host the first-ever worldwide convention of the popular hbo show.  Kit-Harington-Talks-Hardhomeit will be a 3-day event next summer, june 30-july 2 2017.  it will include panels, performances, workshops, a chance to meet & greet with people associated with the show.  more details in the coming months as it is firmed up.

nissan commits to make self driving cars by 2020

1980s tv show, knight rider starring david hasselhoff

nissan announced tuesday it pledges to be making self-driving cars by 2020.  CEO carlos ghosn has said repeatedly he wants to be the first one to sell them.

the company already sells some aspect of autonomous technology including  motion-detecting cameras but they want to raise the bar and have a commercially-viable independent driving system in multiple vehicles at a reasonable price by 2020.

nissan is also building the first dedicated autonomous car training site near its japan headquarters.

nissan’s smyrna plant is having a stellar year, announcing last month that it was adding more than 900 manufacturing jobs to support future production of its crossover SUV, the nissan rogue.  this brings the grand total to more than 7,000 employees there.  production in nissan’s smyrna & canton, mississippi plants increased by 14% in 2012.

meet nashville: 5 in 5 with otis james

otis james/photo by sean hagwell

after moving here in 2009 with a desire to jump into the clothing business somehow, otis james landed a job at a local tuxedo shop.  he soaked up as much as he could but a few months later, when he took on a simple commissioned job to create ties for a coworker’s father and brother for father’s day, his life has never been the same.

in spring 2010, james took the plunge and got a business license and a little over a year later, he quit his job and was able to create handcrafted ties & caps full time.  in 2011, he won first place in garden & gun‘s made in the south awards in the fashion category.  now, with a keen eye for just the right materials and his attention to detail, alongside mentions in publications most recently like gq and southern living, otis james is  carving a niche for himself outside our nashville community too.  but…onto the more important questions:

1) do you have a favorite knot?  i wouldn’t say I have a favorite knot, but my go-to is the half windsor. i tie my neckties a little sloppy, unlike bow ties, which i keep fairly neat.

2) what makes your ties & caps different than others?  everything. well, the big difference on the ties is the materials. i very rarely use pure silk. i like silk/wool blends and very fine wools. also, the details set them apart, from the fine hand stitching on the buttonholes and slip-stitches to the hand-printed hemp/cotton labels. we’ll even paint your name on the label if you ask.

the caps are all handcrafted to order for the wearer. the materials I use and the construction details make for a cap that will adapt to the wearer. to me, a cap should almost become one with the wearer, and like a good pair of jeans, feel good to wear every day. i use leather as the brim stiffener, which makes for a durable, flexible brim that won’t crease, has a natural curve, packs flat, and will adapt to the handling practices of the wearer.

3) at one point in history, touching a man’s tie was grounds for a duel…witnessed any since your business has taken off?  i haven’t yet, but next time someone touches my tie, i’ll be sure to give them a stern warning.

4) did you know a person who collects ties is called a grabatologist…maybe you need a grabatologist frequent buyer punch card?  never heard that term before. did you make that up? i’m down with a punch card system. buy 10, get one free, maybe? i really hope to implement my tie of the season club next year, where subscribers will sign up for a one year membership and receive a new tie each season. the tie will be the same for every member, but it will be a surprise each time and exclusive only to the club members. you don’t know what it will be until it arrives in the mail. so look for that soon…

 5) that’s a great ideawhat’s next for otis james?  hopefully catching up on sleep! that probably won’t come until january, though. for now, we’re launching several new cap options next month, including two new styles. we have some great fabrics for fall/winter that i’m really excited about. wools, cashmeres, camel hair. also, we will continue to release new ties on the website every week. if you want to stay up on our latest offerings, we have a weekly email newsletter called the cordial dispatch. there are some really great things coming through the end of the year. sign up on my website –

opry mills grand reopening this thursday

 after an almost two year hiatus and $200 million in repairs, opry mills bounces back this week stronger and better than before.  among some of the new faces in the 1.2 million square foot venue are coach factory, express, the LEGO store, micahel kors, polo ralph lauren factory, chuys, sweet ceces & vera bradley.

an official ribbon cutting will be held thursday morning at 9:30am which will include country star pam tillis singing the national anthem.  lots of festivities will follow over the next few weeks in celebration including opry mills next big star, super sale weekend (april 13-15), the kids play area unveiling (april 28-29) as well as the may 4-5 grand finale weekend which will include fashion shows & a free outdoor concert with josh turner.