In 2002, Bev Lambert and Tye Phelps took a chance on each other. Now, they’re taking a chance on Lindale.
Ms. Lambert’s Pink Pistol boutique opened Friday in its new location at Lindale’s The Cannery development, and Phelps’ adjoining restaurant and music venue is slated to open in October. When it’s complete, The Cannery will include retail, restaurants ranging from fine dining to fast-casual, indoor and outdoor stages and even some loft-style apartments.
Nearly 15 years ago, Ms. Lambert, the mother of Miranda Lambert, a Lindale teen with aspirations of country music stardom, was looking for a family-oriented place for her daughter to perform. Phelps owned a Plano music venue called Love & War in Texas. Phelps gave the then-unknown girl a stage, and that was the start of a career that has so far produced five hit albums and too many awards to count.
“The Texas music scene then was mostly honky tonks and a boy’s club,” said Phelps. “We weren’t that. So it was an easy decision for us. We gave her a gig, opening for Rusty Weir. We - Miranda, her parents Bev and Rick and I - really hit it off.”
That partnership has resulted in The Cannery, a $15 million development in downtown Lindale. All the elements just came together, Ms. Lambert said.
Miranda Lambert isn’t just a country star, she’s an economic force of nature. When she married singer Blake Shelton in 2011, she moved to his hometown of Tishomingo, Oklahoma.
“You hear about towns that have dried up and blown away,” Bev Lambert said. “Tishomingo had dried up, and was just about to blow away. Miranda hated to see that, and she opened a little antique and junk shop. Just something to help bring people downtown. She thought if she brought a little retail there, it might help.”
That little shop, the first Pink Pistol, revived downtown Tishomingo.
“Restaurants started coming in, and other retail, and pretty soon you couldn’t find any space at all in Tishomingo,” Bev Lambert said.
Miranda Lambert’s marriage to Shelton ended in 2015. Shelton bought out her interest in that store, and Miranda Lambert renewed her focus on Lindale.
“Sometimes you need to close a chapter to build on a new beginning or go back home,” she said in a press release.
Early in Miranda Lambert’s career, Bev Lambert and her husband sold the merchandise - the shirts and CDs - at her concerts, and they also operated the Red 55 Winery (Miranda Lambert’s own wine label). The Lindale Pink Pistol location opened in 2014, a year after the Tishomingo store opened.
But the Lamberts felt it could be something bigger - perhaps even the kind of development anchor that did so much for Tishomingo.
“Miranda looked at our downtown here, which she really considers to be her home, and she asked me if I thought lightning could strike twice,” Bev Lambert said. “I said there’s really only one way to find out.”
As the Lamberts discussed development ideas with Phelps, they knew they wanted to stay in downtown Lindale, not closer to Interstate 20.
“Miranda has no kinship with the interstate,” Bev Lambert said. “That’s not the Lindale she knows.”
Soon the family brought Phelps into the discussion.
“We’ve talked, over the years, about doing something together,” Phelps said. “We were only half serious. But the more we talked, the more it made sense.”
Phelps has now moved to Lindale to oversee the other anchor in The Cannery development, his newest Love & War in Texas location.
“I said if we’re going to do it, we’ve got to do it big,” he said. “And we are. It took me a while to see it - I did months and months of research before I could convince myself. But once I saw the potential here, what it could be, I was all in.”
At about the same time, developer Chad Franke was thinking about the potential for something big in Lindale. In 2014, Franke and two partners, Bill Andreason and Chad Michel, approached the city to discuss developing 40 acres adjacent to Lindale City Hall on U.S. Highway 69.
Mayor Jeff Daugherty, who was then a city council member, pointed them north, instead, to the site of an old cannery.
And it really was a cannery - Lindale, which bills itself as the blackberry capital of Texas, had a fruit cannery that closed down years ago. The property was vacant and increasingly run down; city officials purchased the property, two buildings and the adjacent land, for $200,000 in 2005.
Daugherty and Lindale’s city manager at the time, Craig Lindholm, sold Franke on the concept of a development there in 2014. Franke and his partners bought the land for $945,000.
The city was willing to invest as much as $5 million, to be paid through the creation of a Tax Increment Financing zone. Franke’s group initially committed to coming in with an additional $5 million - though that number could rise to as high as $10 million, when the site is fully developed. They expect The Cannery to be finished within five years.
“There’s nothing like this in East Texas,” Franke said. “The question is will people drive here? We’ve studied the market. We know that in a 30-mile circle, there’s 400,000 people, and we know that they’re willing to drive that far for dining and entertainment.”
The site will include amenities for Lindale residents, as well. The adjacent city park will have a disk golf course, and eventually, a dog park and a splash pad.
“We have an incredible amount of buy-in from Lindale residents,” Mayor Daugherty said. “Everyone’s excited about what’s going on here.”
Lindale Tourism Director Seong McLaren says it’s not so much a case of “if you build it, they will come.”
“They’re coming already,” she said. “Because Love & War in Texas is already hosting concerts in the Picker’s Pavilion, more and more people are coming to Lindale.”
That’s shown in the hotel/motel tax figures.
“Since we opened the new Tourism Department in Lindale, in April 2015, the Hotel Occupancy Taxes have increased over $100,000,” she said. “We’re working very closely with our hoteliers to ensure their success.”
Hotels are filling their rooms 80 to 90 percent, she said. Ms. McLaren added that as The Cannery is completed, the city will need more hotel properties. There’s city-owned land near The Cannery that has been set aside for future hotel use.
Miranda Lambert recently has purchased an estate near Nashville. But Lindale is still home, her mother says.
“Lightning can strike twice,” Bev Lambert said. “Just opening a store was never Miranda’s dream. Her whole point all along was to revitalize something. That’s what we’re working toward.”
Love & War in Texas shows at Lindale’s Pickers Pavilion:
- Aug. 12: Mark McKenney with Callahan Divide
- Aug. 13: Roger Creager with Blake Burrow
- Aug. 20: Max Stalling with Ray Johnston
- Aug. 27: Jonathan Tyler with Cole Risner
- Sept. 1: Mickey and the Motorcars
- Sept. 9: Kevin Fowler with the Powell Brothers