Dave Puncochar in the Good Wood showroom. image: Travis Commeau

Dave Puncochar

“I do feel like there’s a resurgence on Dickerson Pike, and the Merchants Association is going to be the glue for all the merchants to help them know what each other are doing, band together, promote each other, look out for each other and be a voice in the city. It’s a pretty crucial artery coming in and out of the city. There’s really cool stuff happening in the neighborhood and it’s my hope that it’ll keep coming.” — Dave Puncochar

“Um … it looked a little rough.” That was Dave Puncochar’s impression of Dickerson Pike when he first moved his business, Good Wood, over there. It was an apt assessment for a road known for having solitary men driving back and forth slowly. Nevertheless, the rent was cheaper than in other areas, and Dave could smell a new day for the maligned stretch of pavement.

His smeller was right, and stalwart businesses are moving in, supplementing the ones which had long been fighting the good fight. Or perhaps Dave could just see the writing on the wall and knew that the expansion and prosperity that is East Nashville would have to spill across Ellington Parkway eventually. It’s happening, and Dave is digging in to spur the resurgence on. The Dickerson Road Merchants Association had lain somewhat dormant since the departure of Mike and Tina Douglas (owners of the now-defunct Charlie Bob’s restaurant) but has risen like a phoenix, and Dave just recently became president — a booster of a neighborhood long characterized as a place only Charles Bukowski could love.

At 42, Dave is an affable sort with salt & pepper hair, three young children, and his own business, the aforementioned Good Wood, which provides reclaimed lumber, installation services, and custom furniture. Born in Atlanta, his family moved to Brentwood when he was eight. “After I’d graduated college, my parents uprooted and moved to East Nashville to help start City Church of East Nashville,” he says. “My other brother came home from the Peace Corps and he liked East Nashville too, so he settled there. I was married at the time, and my wife and I moved home from Knoxville. We loved the East Nashville vibe. East Nashville is so entrepreneurial that it rubbed off on me. I had a corporate job back then, I was a drug rep, wore a suit every day — and I stuck out in East Nashville like a sore thumb! I used to joke that when you tell your East Nashville buddies that you quit your pharmaceutical job and you’re going to be self-employed, they’re like, “Hell yeah, man, that’s awesome!” You tell your Brentwood friends and they’re all, “What’re you gonna do about your 401-K?”

Like his sniffing out potential on Dickerson Pike, Dave aptly spied an opportunity not long after his moving to the East Side. He built the proverbial better mousetrap. Having bought a house in Five Points in 2011 that was a “fixer upper” to put it mildly, it was his sad fortune to watch a sizable portion of his first floor collapse. The 100-year-old wooden floor had to be replaced and the wood had to have the dark character of the flooring that survived the cave-in. It took the patience of Job and the doggedness of Edison to finally find such wood. Eventually, he found it, but it didn’t take a brain surgeon to surmise that he wasn’t the only East Nashvillian homeowner who needed antiquated-looking wood to replace their own flooring either partially or entirely.

Acting on that notion, he threw away his neckties and said goodbye to a life of visiting doctors’ offices with a small rolling bag full of drug samples and brochures. And in 2012, Good Wood was born, initially located on Gallatin Pike and then moving to Dickerson Pike.

Once there, he warmed to the neighborhood and spied opportunities “I’m all in on Dickerson Pike,” he says. “I live in East Nashville, and wanted to keep my office here, and have the opportunity to see and help more and more businesses coming to the area. There’s a new hotel and another one coming in, there’s a new restaurant and other businesses buying up big chunks of land. It’s just an area with a lot of history and is coming back strong.”

Visit Good Wood at 1307 Dickerson Pike or online at goodwoodnashville.com, and for information on the Dickerson Road Merchants Association, visit their Facebook group.