Fight for survival: Buckling down to stock the shelves

Nashville Business Journal

John Dyke, owner and founder of The Turnip Truck, opened a new grocery store a week after the entire nation was essentially shutdown during the pandemic.

By Marq Burnett  – Reporter, Nashville Business Journal

May 1, 2020, 7:05am EDT

To better understand the scope of the challenges small businesses are facing due to the coronavirus, the Nashville Business Journal has been staying in close contact in recent weeks with seven CEOs, owners and entrepreneurs. For this story, we asked them variations of this question: “What are you doing to save your business?” The question is not a perfect fit, as some executives feel prepared for this moment, and even see big opportunities to grow market share. But for others — who are attempting to avoid layoffs or whose revenue has suddenly disappeared — the question couldn’t be more pressing.

We’ll continue to follow these people and companies in the coming weeks. Indeed, you’ll hear from them again on May 29, when we and the rest of The Business Journals network will publish our “Small business, big mission” special report, which will tell the stories of how companies across the country are evolving. But for now, here’s a look inside Nashville companies’ fight for survival.

John Dyke tries to avoid letting the stress overwhelm him, but the doubts still creep into his mind.

Is the staff happy, safe and taken care of? Am I doing all the right things to protect our customers? Do we have enough products?

Dyke’s The Turnip Truck, a trio of local grocery stores, is considered an essential business and has remained busy throughout the coronavirus lockdown.

“There’s been stress, but I don’t like carrying it into the store,” Dyke said. “What I’ve done is buckled down every day and changed my role to being more hands-on on the [sales] floor. I try not to carry the stress into the business.”

Amid this crisis, Dyke has added more shelves and hired more employees. Following the tornado and at the beginning of quarantine in March, Dyke opened The Turnip Truck’s third location, a store in West Nashville. He also announced the company would be hiring 30 employees.

Since then, Dyke has launched the company’s e-commerce platform. Dyke also said he plans to hire another 20 or more people to meet both in-store and online demand.


“We’re fortunate to be in a position where we can help people out as an essential business,” Dyke said. “With most people not eating out, The Turnip Truck has been a great asset for the community.”

One area of the business that has been hurt the most is The Turnip Truck’s food service stations, which include hot and salad bars. Dyke made the decision to close the stations, which account for 20% of his business, for safety. He’s currently planning for how to re-open that part of the business once things are safe again.

“We don’t know if it’s two, four or six weeks out, but we want to have the guidelines in place so we’re ready to go when it’s safe to start that part of the business again,” Dyke said.

Article on Nashville Business Journal