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Chattanooga Ghost Tours Finds New Home

Chattanooga Ghost Tours Finds New Home

By Tim Omarzu – 6-2-17

Quest2Escape owner Bill Harris and Chattanooga Ghost Tours Inc. owner Amy Petulla are shown at their shared location at 432 Market St.

Amy Petulla’s business never gave up the ghost — even though the brick building that housed it partially collapsed March 29 and later was torn down and hauled away.

Chattanooga Ghost Tours Inc., formerly based in the 141-year-old mill building at 138 Market St. that also was home to the Cheeburger Cheeburger restaurant, has moved into new digs down the street at 432 Market St. to share space with Quest2Escape, a family-friendly business in which customers have to solve a puzzle to “escape” from a room.

“It’s so much better than what we had before,” Petulla said. “I’m really happy to be with Quest2Escape.”

Bill Harris, the co-owner of Quest2Escape, offered the space to Petulla after her building collapsed.

“When it fell down, I figured I wouldn’t want to be in her shoes,” Harris said. “And there’s good synergy between her business and ours.”

Chattanooga Ghost Tours, which is celebrating its 10th year in business, will hold what it’s calling a Grand (Re)Opening party at 5 p.m. on June 10 at its new location — though guests are welcome to drop by anytime between noon and 7 p.m. Adult ghost tour tickets can be purchased for any date for $10 on June 10, instead of the usual $16.95, Petulla said.

“We want the space to be an attraction in and of itself,” said Petulla, who praised the interior design work done by Jeromie Gentry. “Our gift shop is very steampunk-themed. We’re going to have a lot of interesting things for sale there.”

Along with a new space, the ghost tour will have a new route. Unlike the old route, which began at the Walnut Street pedestrian bridge and ended at the Read House hotel, the new ghost tour starts and stops at the new location. It will entail less walking and feature stops inside buildings.

“We have a new route that is better in every way than the old one,” Petulla said. “We’ve got some stories that people have never heard.”

Running the ghost tour business, which grosses more than $100,000 annually, is a full-time job for Petulla and a part-time job for her guides.

“I have six guides, and we’re looking at hiring a seventh, if I can find someone who is good,” she said. Finding someone good enough to hire as a guide took two years the last time around, she said.

Chattanooga Ghost Tours was chosen as one of only two Tennessee winners of The 2017 American Small Business Championship hosted by SCORE and Sam’s Club. It’s the only time a Chattanooga company has ever won the state award, Petulla said, who’s using a $1,000 Sam’s Club gift card prize to help set up the new shop such new features as a cooler to sell cold drinks and candy bars.

Contact staff writer Tim Omarzu at tomarzu@timesfreepress.com or www.facebook.com/MeetsFor Business or on Twitter @meet forbusiness or 423-757-6651.

Source:   http://epaper.timesfreepress.com/Olive/ODN/TimesFreePress/shared/ShowArticle.aspx?doc=ChatTFPress%2F2017%2F06%2F02&entity=Ar01701&sk=839A54A4&mode=text

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