What started with only a little toolshed has grown into a solid small business called Lookout Mountain Vacation Rentals.
Christian Thoreson owns a small piece of bluff property that has a beautiful view up Lookout Mountain. His first idea was to build a simple shed and live there. But his friends told him he needed to do something more with that property.
So he did.
He built a four-bedroom home with a loft, large windows, hot tub and wood stove. Thoreson lived in the house on the bluff for several years before moving into another home in the valley. He outfitted the valley home with a 47-inch flat-screen television, a keg cooler, a large deck with a hot tub, a dartboard and other amenities.
And he rented out the house on the bluff.
That's when he realized he might have a good business idea. So Thoreson bought more property, such as a home in Flintstone, Georgia. He eventually started renting out the valley home, too.
After managing vacation properties in Georgia, Thoreson and his partner, Christina Holmes, expanded into Tennessee last year.
And business remains so strong that they have brought on another employee, Monica Luck, who helps with everything from taking reservations to running social media.
"We are very excited about the continued growth of our business," Thoreson said.
Lookout Mountain Vacation Rentals now has six properties—one in Tennessee and five in Georgia. The properties are mainly around Lookout Mountain, and most are a few minutes from downtown Chattanooga.
Tourism is a thriving industry in Tennessee and in Chattanooga. Tourism revenue in Chattanooga is expected to exceed $1 billion for the first time this year. Major events such as Ironman have drawn visitors and attention to the area.
Business has spread mostly by word of mouth, but advertising and the business' website also drive growth, Thoreson said.
Lookout Mountain Vacation Rentals gets inquiries from all over the world, but most people who visit are from the United States or Canada, Thoreson said.
The properties allow an entire family to get under one roof for the cost of a hotel room. They allow visitors to have access to an entire home and save money by cooking, he also said.
"We've found that there are a couple of things that draw people to our properties," he also said. "They have to have some kind of draw. Two are on the bluff. One is on the river and two are very secluded. People coming from other cities—that's what they are looking for."