From the western coast of India to a small town in West Tennessee, Jay Patel found a place to call home. Patel grew up in Gujarat, a state on the western coast of India, on the Arabian Sea. In that area there is a saying, where the guest is ‘God’ and the people are gregariously friendly. It is the home state of Mahatma Ghandi whose life’s teachings inspired many.The area is known for its beaches, historic capitals, hill resorts and wildlife sanctuaries. The area includes the only habitat of the Asiatic Lions and is touted as the safest state with a population of 62.7 million. The country is vast and half of India’s workers rely on agriculture. This makes up one third of the work in the service industry. India is the most populous democracy in the world but Patel longed for more and in 1996 decided to make his way to America. A journey that started 28 years ago culminated into a more comfortable life for Patel and his family following years of hard work and dedication. Like many immigrants from India, Patel had dreamed for a better life. At the age of nineteen, he decided to move to Queens, New York alone with little financial support. “I came to the United States by myself to build a better life, a better future. You can accomplish anything in this country if you are willing to work hard,” said Patel.
Starting out Patel was able to work with friends and some family in various jobs before purchasing a convenience store. He owned that store for five years in Queens. He was then able to move to Long Island, New York to again work with family and purchased a small card and gift shop in the community. After four years at the gift shop Patel purchased the Suffolk One Stop, a restaurant and deli in the eastern most county in the United States, which the family ran for six years. During that time in New York, Patel married his wife Daxa and they had three children born in New York City before they made the decision to visit his wife’s relatives in Tennessee and look for an opportunity to purchase another business. “When we pulled up to the now Selmer Quick Stop in 2007 to meet with friends about business opportunities. People were waving at us in our car and so friendly from the moment we arrived in Selmer. I like the store, the area and the people. I said to myself, this is home. “I love my customers and have a great clientele. McNairy
County gave me a chance to grow,” said Patel. My two girls were 8 and 6 years old and my son only eight months old when we arrived in Selmer. Patel purchased the store in 2007 and recently bought the building. In addition, Patel joined with his brother-in-law, John Patel of Savannah, in the purchase of the Selmer Tobacco and Beverage Mart on Mulberry Avenue in 2015. “John and I cleaned out the building and built the counter inside to start a liquor store. It was a lot of work but it has paid off.” Just a couple of weeks ago the pair purchased North End Wine and Spirits on Peach Street in Selmer. “My two daughters are in college, both attending Middle Tennessee State University. My oldest daughter plans to become a Physician’s Assistant (PA) and my youngest daughter is studying to be a Nurse Practitioner. My son is in school at Selmer Middle School and my wife Daxa works with me at the convenience store,” said Patel. Patel shared the fact that it has been quite the journey from the meager beginnings to the success of owning three businesses in the county but one that required many long hours of work with great support from the community. “I am so proud to be where I am today as none of this would be possible without the support of the many wonderful customers and townspeople here in Selmer. I am happy to call McNairy County home,” said Patel.