MADISON-Most entrepreneurs hope to build a legacy with their business, but Tommy Stallings never imagined he would grow his small retail store on Jones Street into the oldest in Madison.

That's exactly what he's done with Madison Fireplace and Patio, a big time operation with a warm, small-town feel and one of the best selections of furniture and home decor in the greater Jackson area.

Stallings has been open 27 years, the last 16 in his current location at 1437 Highland Colony Packway, right next to Madison Central High School. His team of nine employees sells everything from couches and artwork to patio furniture and high-end gas and charcoal grills with a smile on their faces, and he and his technicians install pre-built fireplaces.

"I love it here," Stallings said last week, as he gave a tour of the shop. "It's fun to help people - the folks that come in, they are usually excited to be here."

Stallings began holding cooking demonstrations after he moved to his new location in 1997 and built a deck that houses a couple of Big Green Egg ceramic grills. He holds the displays most weekends.

He carries at least eight different brands of patio furniture, most every color hammock and ornate fireplace screens. You can even find old-school wooden stoves and contemporary fireplaces.

"We only buy the best quality we can find," Stallings said. "We don't want to sell anybody anything they are going to have a problem with. We only go with trusted companies that stand behind their products with warrantees."

Many of Stallings patrons are returning customers, and his staff, which includes his son and daughter-in-law, has been around so long he said it feels like family. He's open 9-6, Monday through Saturday and closes Sunday so everyone can go to church.

"If you come out looking for home decorations," Stallings said. "You'll find what you want, and you might even get a free bible. I got a huge box and I've been offering them to customers whenever I can."