(WBIR-Maryville) After a Maryville restaurant owner gained national recognition for posting 'Guns are Welcome' signs on her doors, an East Tennessee printing company said it's getting orders for the signs from other local businesses.
Sharma Floyd, with Shiloh Brew and Chew, posted paper signs a couple of months ago. Friday, she told WBIR while she does not carry a gun, her customers have a right to. Since then, her business has been booming.
"I was on the verge of losing Shiloh. I already told the staff that we probably wouldn't be here at the end of the month," said Floyd. "Now that's completely changed. I've put more money in the bank in the last five months than I have in the last six months. I prayed to God to send a miracle, and he sent WBIR."
Floyd said she hired seven additional employees, and upgraded to permanent, colored signs created by Red Eye Printing, a Sevierville-based microbusiness.
"We are a small fish in a big pond," said Phillip Davis, the owner. "We're not going to retire off of these signs. But the good thing about it is it gets awareness out there for the Second Amendment rights."
Davis said the gun-friendly signs range from $5 to $20.
"We've gotten orders for them from a martial arts place, a bakery, a couple of mechanic shops. A lot of the small companies. I don't think you're going to see a whole lot of the major corporations doing the same thing," said Davis.
Clear Silat's Street Kung Fu and Tai Chi, in downtown Maryville, recently ordered a 'firearms are welcome' sign from Davis.
"I called Sharma because it really caught my attention because that's something I've always kind of done with my classes but I hadn't really put it out there where it was that kind of a sign in a window that way," said Richard Clear, who has studied martial arts in the US and China for more than 30 years.
Clear said he has taught students from the CIA, SWAT, DEA, and military special operations, and teaches men and women how to defend themselves against an armed or unarmed attacker at his Maryville studio.
"It's great that she posted the signs. She's really encouraging the law abiding citizens to do that, which is our right in this country," said Clear. "I should have my sign in the next couple of days."
Floyd, who's been overwhelmed with support from people and groups across the country, said she did not estimate having such an impact on East Tennesseans.
"I don't even know what to say, I get such a loss for words because I'm such a humble person," said Floyd. "I tell everyone, stand up for what you believe in, because the benefit for me has been so rewarding."
She said Shiloh Brew and Chew's phone has been ringing nonstop since Friday, and now she's expanding into merchandise sales.
"We're getting coffee cups that are going to have the Shiloh logo on one side, and a picture of the sign on the other side," said Floyd. "People are calling me asking me if I have anything with that on it, and I didn't. But, we created it, and we'll have them here probably by Friday."
The family restaurant does not sell liquor, and Floyd said if a customer orders a beer, she asks if they are carrying a weapon.
Thursday, several customers said they drove hundreds of miles to support her business, including a man from Kansas.
"I'm so grateful for the support we've been getting," said Floyd, who was in tears. "People come in here hugging me and shaking my hand, thanking me for supporting our Second Amendment. And it's creating new jobs here in Tennessee, and I hope other business owners from across the country order the signs from Sevierville."