Today we’d like to introduce you to Tyrene Shute.
Hi Tyrene, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
I have been doing my own business with my brothers since I was 5.
We mowed yards, shoveled snow, recycled cans, washed cars, anything we could do. This eventually led us to open up our own stores at the Kodak Flea Market off exit 407. We have had a cell phone business, a sports memorabilia store, a DVD store, and eventually settled on a Gaming & Collectible Store.
This led to us eventually founding our own Comic Convention, Smoky Mountain Fan Fest. We are entering our 3rd year with this convention, and it is growing rapidly.
Founding this convention has led us to other Festivals that we now work with, or run. The Cocke County Bluegrass Festival & Hazzard Fest. Both are unique events in the South. Running Smoky Mountain Fan Fest, Hazzard Fest, and the Cocke County Bluegrass Festival is a lot of work and requires an amazing team, and I am lucky to have so many works with us and help these shows make so many fans happy.
I of course also have a 9-5 at my game store. The store, Joystick Gaming & Collectibles, has two locations. One-off Exit 407 at the Great Smokies Flea Market & and another on Cosby Highway in our hometown, Newport.
I come from a poor family, that never had a lot of money, but always had a lot of love. No matter what problems we faced, our family always stuck together and loved each other. Without this foundation to build off of, and without having their love and support in everything I do, I’m not sure where I would be.
It has always meant the world to me.
Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It has not been smooth haha.
My family has lived in income-based housing, projects, trailer parks, and many other places. We faced a lot of problems throughout our life but always made it through. At age 5, our house burned down in New York, which caused us to eventually move down to TN.
In the business world, I tried and failed in many ways. It took a while before we found the one that not only clicked with our community but one that we loved. Cell phones, DVDs, pressure washing, and more… it was tiring to finally get one we liked. Our video game store Joystick & Collectibles has sent us on a path we never expected.
Thanks to it, we decided to open a convention during the Covid pandemic. We are now entering year 3 of that convention. It is a huge learning process, but it has been so much fun. This also led to our other shows, Hazzard Fest & The Cocke County Bluegrass Festival.
No matter how hard it has been, we love it.
Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
Being an event promoter requires a lot of behind the scene things many people have no idea about.
Booking venues, celebrity guests, building relationships with agents & guests, musical guests, comedians, finding vendors, finding artists, and even small details like getting tables, chairs, sound for the staging, and so much more.
I think one thing that sets me apart from others, and is also something I’m very proud of, am I put myself out there on the front lines. As the head promoter, I am always working the events, meeting vendors, meeting the agents, meeting fans, and doing everything I can to ensure everyone is happy and having a good time.
I even manage our social media accounts and answer questions from everyone, including myself. This can be tough as we do 3 events, and we have anywhere from 1,500 people to 10,000 people coming through our gates. But, I do everything I can to make sure everyone is having a good time and is happy with their day.
How can people work with you, collaborate with you, or support you?
We have multiple websites and social media pages. If anyone is interested in working with me or just wants to pick my brain for advice, I am always happy to help!
Find us on Facebook, Smoky Mountain Fan Fest. Or, you can contact me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m always happy to work with others and help the person behind me move forward in any way I can!
- Website: www.smokyMountainFanfest.com