2-Minute Tuesday – John Stamps

On this week’s 2-Minute Tuesday, Keith sits down with John Stamps of Stamps Real Estate Company to talk about real estate, infrastructure, and what it means to be a Colliervillian.

Watch it here or check out the full transcript below!

John Stamps Interview Transcript

Keith: Hi, this is Keith with Tour Collierville, and I’m here today with John Stamps.  Welcome, John.

John: Thank you.  I appreciate you letting me be here.

Keith: John is a long-time Colliervillian.  He has family in Collierville.  He is with the Stamps Real Estate Company.  He’s also an Alderman for the city.  And so, we’re glad to have you here today.  If we could, start a little bit, tell us about the history of your family in Collierville.  I know the Stamps name has been around a long time.

John: Yeah.  Well, thank you.  And again, thanks for letting me be here, because I watch these all the time, and it’s an honor to be here, so I appreciate it.

Keith: Awesome.  Thank you.

John: I’m a fourth generation Colliervillian, I guess, is the best way to put it.  My dad and my granddad grew up here. I didn’t grow up here; when my parents got married, we moved away.  And then I came back.  You know, my uncle always said, “You need to raise your family here,” so I ended up bringing them back here, in probably ’95.

Keith: ’95?  That’s right when I moved to this area.  It was ’94.

John: Got it.  Yeah, yeah.

Keith: Cool. So that seems like it was yesterday, but it’s hard to believe that was 20-something years ago!

John: I know, 23.  Yeah.

Keith: That’s crazy.  So, you’re fourth generation… that means your great grandfather?

John: Yeah, my great grandfather.  He was a merchant here in town.

Keith: Was he?  What did he do?  Was he on the Square?

John: Yes.  He was off the Square.  He had a little store.  He was a merchant as well, had a little goods store of some sort.  My grandfather started the Stamps Oldsmobile dealership.

Keith: Oh really? Okay.  Gotcha.

John: That was in the 70’s.

Keith: Gotcha.  Do they still have Oldsmobile?  I haven’t seen one of those in a long time.

John: No, they stopped.

Keith: Oh no, they stopped?

John: They stopped some years ago.

Keith: Yeah, I was thinking that they might have.

Keith: So, you do a couple of things, being in real estate but also an Alderman.  You could kind of go through real estate first.  How’d you get into that?  When did that start?

John: Well, I guess, basically when I bought my first house.  I was really excited about it.  It was a lot of fun.  And somebody said, “You know, John,” you’d probably be really good at that.  So, I bought my first house, got into real estate.  I did two jobs for a number of years.

Keith: What was the other job?

John: I worked for Northwest Airlines in customer service.

Keith: That’s right.  That’s what I was thinking.

John: Once I realized I liked real estate better, I wanted to make that transition.  It took several years, and then I got into real estate, and I’ve been doing it for about 23 years now.

Keith: 23 years.

John: Yup.

Keith: And you’ve grown.  I know sometimes you refer to it as the Stamps Collection as well…

John: That’s right.

Keith: You’ve grown, and you kind of have some… You have other… You’re a broker, right, so you have agents?

John: Yeah.  Actually, getting into that, 23 years ago, I started what I call my Tour of Duty.  I started with other real estate companies to build my resume up and to build my brokerage.  And then, I was a Managing Broker for a couple of companies, and got some experience in some different areas, and then I just said, “You know what? I can do this on my own.” Or so I thought.  (laughs) Like we all do.  Just taking some of my own ideas and throwing them out there and making it my own.  And because I really enjoy it.  I like being able to work with people and try to make things work.  So, it was seven and a half years ago I started up here on the Square.

Keith: Gotcha.  And you’re on the Square, right by Square Beans.

John: Right next to Square Beans.

Keith: I think most people know Square Beans.

John: Yep. And Hewlett Dunn Boots.

Keith: Yeah, Hewlett Dunn.  Everybody knows Hewlett Dunn.

John: I wear their boots.

Keith: I do, too.  I love that store.  It’s awesome.  I can’t let myself go in there unless I just have expendable money.  Because I’m going to spend money if I go in.

(both laugh)

John: Absolutely.

Keith: So, you’re in offices there.  I know you’ve done some renovations recently.

John: Yeah.  I’ve been there about seven years, and about a year and a half ago, Mr. Kelsey said he was going to retire, so I got the opportunity to buy the building and then make some changes to it.  What I found out is that it takes a lot of money to make something look old again.

(both laugh)

Keith: Yeah, that’s right.

John: But yeah, I wanted to go back to the hardwood floors that were original with the building and find some brick that was up in the building—on the walls, dry wall—and change it around.  I’ve got some pretty good feedback from it.

Keith: Oh, it looks awesome.

John: Thank you.

Keith: I was over there for an open house thing, and it looks great.  About how many agents do you have working for you?

John: I have 12 agents.

Keith: Twelve agents.  Gotcha.  So, you’re growing up pretty well.

John: think we’re doing good.  We’re trying to create our niche in the market—just being a small-town, family-oriented small business—and it seems to be working.

Keith: How’s Collierville going to do this winter?  I know it’s had a good year, but as we go into the winter, how’s the market going to hold up?

John: Good question.  A lot of people ask me how the market’s doing.  Earlier this year, it was really well.  It did really good for quite a while.  And then we got to a certain point where it just slowed down.  I don’t think it was just real estate; a lot of businesses did that.  Right back when the kids got back into school. And then there was a lull there for a while.  But now it’s picked up again.  So when you ask about winter, right now, I’ve got several things that are going on.  And hopefully, we’ll feel that’s going to carry into the new year, too.

Keith: Gotcha.  And you think next spring, it’ll be a frenzy again?

John: I do.  I’m hoping.  I think that all the signs mark that we’re in a good economy, and we’re going to keep moving forward in a good economy, and that yes, things will be…. You know, it’s all about confidence.  And when, in all the years I’ve done this, it seems like around the holiday season, when the families get together, if all the families are talking about, “Yes, this is good, that’s good, this is good,” then when we leave our families and get out into the real world, it just seems that everybody makes decisions from that point.  It’s kind of one of my weird observations.

Keith: That’s an interesting concept.  There’s got to be some truth to that.  That’s interesting.  I’ve never thought of it that way.  You come together, you feel like you’ve vetted some of your ideas, you’ve got some backing, or you’ve decided one’s not…

John: Yeah, absolutely.

Keith: And then you take action.

John: You’ve got that crazy uncle that’s got years of experience in his past that’s going to tell you all his stuff.  You’ve got everybody else, and you put all that together.  If the feeling is, “You know, I feel pretty good about this.  I mentioned to my family that I was going to buy a house. And that I was going to do this.  That’s what I want to do.”  You either get encouragement to move forward—because that’s where it all comes from, from our families—or you get discouragement, and people kind of shut down.  So, I just kind of… So, in January, I just kind of watch and see what’s the temperature check.  How did it go in my family?  How did it go in other people’s families?  And usually from that point, January starts out really good and strong.  And then the weather tapers things down a little bit, and then it gets strong again.

Keith: That’s what we hope for: good family endorsements and confidence throughout the season.

John: Absolutely.  Absolutely.

Keith: So, let’s move to the Alderman a little bit.  And we’ve had an alderman in here before, so we know a little bit about it.  I know you guys just came through an election.

John: Yes.  Yes.

Keith: So, we have the… We know who they’re all going to be now.  So how many—remind me, how many aldermen are there?

John: There are five aldermen.

Keith: Okay.  And you’re reelected for how many… for a certain term?

John: Yeah, we’re staggered.  They’re four-year terms, and we’re staggered.  So, every two years, we have—I think we just went through a set of three—three aldermen, and then we’ll have two, the mayor and the aldermen.

Keith: Gotcha.  So, did you… Were you up?  Were you up this time?  Or are you in a staggered year?

John: Fortunately, I was not.  That’s a… I’m in my second year of my term.  So I’ve got two more years.

Keith: You’ve got two more years before you have to campaign and all that.

John: Yeah, absolutely.

Keith: So as an alderman, I know you’re pretty wired in.  Can you give us an idea of what’s happening in the world of Collierville governance right now?

John: Well, there’s a lot.  It’s hard to try and figure out where to start.  But last night, I went to the School Board meeting—not in the capacity of Alderman, just to watch and observe.  And they voted to extend the school start time from 7:00 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. for the high school.

Keith: I think people will be excited about that, right?

John: Yeah, yeah… It was pretty controversial, actually.  Pretty controversial.  And it was really tough for the School Board to make that decision.  And, in fact, it was a split vote.  They talked about how that was the first split vote the School Board has experienced yet.

Keith: Wow.

John: So, it was a tough, tough thing for the School Board.

Keith: I definitely… I don’t have a kid in school, but I’d definitely be on the 7:30 side.  I’d be on the 9:30 side, I think.  (laughs)

John: With anything, there’s plusses and minuses.  Just observing what they went through, I think it rests more on a safety of the children being out that early in the morning.  And they say all the studies are about that students perform better a little bit later, not being so sleepy and groggy.

Keith: That makes sense.

John: They had to make a decision based on what they were… And they actually formed a committee that spent six months doing the study on all of it.

Keith: Wow.

John: And unanimously said that was probably a better thing for the city.

Keith: Gotcha.  That’s good.

John: Yeah.

Keith: That’s good that the did their homework—the school did their homework.

John: Exactly.

(both laugh)

Keith: Good.  What else is happening?

John: Well, we just had a meeting about budgeting.  And this year was a pretty tough year on budgeting.  We started in January last—January 4th, actually.  And then it ends in May.  And then we had some meetings in June.

Keith: And so the budget will be set for… What’s the… I don’t know the fiscal year.

John: For next year.  The fiscal year starts in July. And that was all voted in.  And so… um… This was a tough year.  A really tough year.  There’s a lot of things we have to be concerned about. I mean, moving forward, we have to look at the infrastructure.  It’s just like growing pains with anything.

Keith: Sure.

John: That, we’re dealing with.

Keith:  So, do you expect next year to be tough?  Do you think it’ll be a lot of…

John: Um… You know, with what we’re experiencing now, we’ve got 51,000 people.  And I always make these analogies.  It’s like your own household, right?  I look at it sometimes as like the budget for the town is like the budget for your house.  I mean, you’ve got to figure out where to allocate funds and where funds go to.  And so like, if you need a new roof, if you need the car fixed, driveway fixed, these things… It’s not unlike the city.  You know, we’ve got roads and streets we’ve got to look at.  We’ve got drainage.  We’ve got buildings we’re responsible for.  All these things, we have to maintain.  And we’ve got a certain amount of money.  We’ve got a $57 million budget, general fund budget.  And we’ve got to figure out where those funds go and how to allocate them.  And in the wishlist of things, I wish we could do everything.  But we can’t.  We have to sit down, and we have to really…

Keith: So you have things that you have to maintain, things that have to be improved and maintained, and then you have the wish list of things you want to do.

John: Absolutely.

Keith:  And you mentioned infrastructure, and so, I think that’s… As Collierville’s growing—everybody realized that Collierville is growing—the infrastructure has to grow with it.  That seems to be a Catch-22.  You need the people here and you need the taxes, but you’ve got to build the infrastructure for them, so…

John: Yes.

Keith: I can imagine that’s a particular challenge.

John: Yeah, it is.  And then when you have a—like we’re going to have this next year… We’re going to have to go under Poplar Avenue and redo all the sewage and the water drainage and all the infrastructure within that.  That’s not something we’re all looking forward to.

Keith: Where’s that… Where’s that going to be?  Do you know?

John: Where’s it going to be?  It’s just…

Keith: Like where do you have to go under?

John: Well, that’s an old, old street that’s been layered and layered and layered over the years and over the years, and we have to go directly underneath.

Keith: But are you going to cross it somewhere?  Underneath it?

John: Um, no, we’re going to have to… Well, I don’t know the exact logistics of how they’re going to do it, but they’re going to have to dig straight down… You know, like sometimes how you see street repair up and down Poplar?  It’s going to be on a two-lane road instead of a four-lane road, where you can kind of… So that’s the logistics of the traffic and the… Those pipes are directly under the road.

Keith: Okay.

John: It’s…

Keith: …extensive.

John: It is.  It will be.

Keith: Okay, yeah.

John: It’s going to be hard for a company to get in there and…

Keith: Yeah. Gotcha.

John: It’s going to be a big challenge.

Keith: (laughs) Yeah, you’re right.  Well, I guess you’re a pretty busy guy, doing the real estate and the alderman stuff.  Is there anything else you’re into too that you want to tell us about?

John: No, it’s just about finding a balance between family, real estate, the aldermen, different things we get involved in.  So… I enjoy it.  I really enjoy it.  I enjoy being a part of the town.  It’s something that I feel fortunate.  My grandfather was the mayor in the 1950’s.  And so my uncle has been very plugged in; he just won a 35-year award for being involved with the city on different boards and commissions.

Keith: Wow, that’s great.

John: And so, it just got me involved.  And real estate just made sense for me to get involved with the city and understand how it works so I could make sure I could answer any questions for people.  And then I got the bug.  I enjoy it to, so…. I laugh, all those times, you know, in college when we were going through government affairs and things like that, I was usually asleep during my classes.  Now, I’m paying for it.

(both laugh)

Keith: Yeah, you’re catching up, huh?

John: Catching up.  That’s the way I look at it.

Keith: Well, we appreciate you coming in.  Is there… As an elected official, is there anything you’d like to ask the town or tell the town?  You’ve got an open floor for anything you’d like to communicate.

John: Oh, goodness gracious.  You’re going to give me a soapbox right now.

(both laugh)

John: No, I just… I appreciate the love that we have in the city.  The people express that, that we’re being… that the city grew on the shoulders of our forefathers.  And we’re carrying it to move forward.  There’s a lot of exciting stuff for Collierville moving forward.  And I’m very excited to be a part of it.

Keith: Yeah, and we are too.  Glad to have you as a neighbor and glad you came in.

John: Thank you.  I appreciate being here.