Joey Smith, Sellers Realty

Telling Stories of Clinton

Location: Hilton Knoxville

Joey Smith of Sellers Realty in Clinton wants to be remembered as someone who made a difference in his community. “I’m one of the local historians in Clinton, and I spend a lot of time reading about all the folks who came before me here,” he shared. “If I could do half the things they did to help build up the place we live, if I could be remembered as someone who did important things like that for my community, then I’d be thrilled.”
Joey grew up in Clinton and graduated from Clinton High School. After attending college in West Tennessee and living in Nashville with his wife when they were newly married, he eventually returned to East Tennessee to begin his career in real estate in the town he loves. “My folks and my brother are here,” he explained, “and my wife’s parents just moved here from Nashville. We all live near each other in the same neighborhood—it’s the 2023 version of the old homestead. Some people say I’m crazy, but I think it’s perfect.”
In addition to his love for Clinton and its history, Joey loves art, design, and historic homes. “I’ve always loved houses and architecture,” he remarked. “I used to pick up old house magazines and flip through them when I was a kid. Now, historic homes are my favorite houses to list. The structures are interesting, but so are the stories of all the people who’ve lived there.”
“People like to know those kinds of things,” he continued. “Even though I sell houses, I don’t say I’m a salesperson…I’m a storyteller. I like introducing people to this community and telling them about life here. To me, it’s not really selling—it’s just helping people put the pieces together.”
Joey is most proud of his family—his lovely wife and their two children, ages 10 and 8—and to him, success means raising two healthy, well-adjusted, kind, and loving children. “They are why I do everything I do,” he emphasized. “My goal in life is to give my family what they need to be happy and successful themselves.”
Keeping his family as his top priority is one way Joey keeps his work and home life balanced. He always puts his family first. If he’s got a dance recital or a ballgame to attend, then he might miss a listing appointment. But being there for his kids is as important in his schedule as anything business-related.
Joey finds absolute joy and pleasure every day in his morning routine: get up at 5:30am, go work out, come home and help get the kids up, take the kids to school (accompanied by the family dog). Then, at work, there’s something different to do every day, never the same thing two days in a row. So there’s a comforting mixture of routine and complete and utter chaos!
On Joey’s bucket list is a visit to the Holy Land. If he had time to learn something new…professionally, he’d want to learn the ins and outs of how to run a real estate office, and personally, he’d like to become proficient at playing the autoharp, that Appalachian folk instrument (he owns one).
He’s currently reading Hank the Cow Dog with his kids. “It sounds like a little kids book, but I have horse-laughed reading it to them,” he admitted. The last book he read for himself was This Promise of Change, a memoir by one of the 12 Black students who enrolled in Clinton High School in 1956, helping CHS become the first public high school in the state of Tennessee to integrate in the 1950s.
If Joey had to change careers, he’d probably be a teacher. He’s on the city school board in Clinton and enjoys getting into the classroom to sub occasionally as well. If he could have dinner with anyone, he’d choose one of Clinton’s old mayors from the 1920s, Glen Medaris. “He was a really quiet, unassuming kind of guy,” Joey described, “but he made lots of plans and improvements for the community—like paved streets and street lights and new schools. I’d love to ask him about how he managed the city.”
Two of the greatest influences in Joey’s life have been his parents and his broker, Bobbie Sellers. “Bobbie really connects deeply with the community,” he said, “and that’s how I feel also. I probably would never have tried to do this job with anyone but her. And my parents taught me and molded me into a good person, which is more important than being successful financially, so I’ve got to give them credit, too.”