VDT City Market

Paul Leavy/The Valdosta Daily Times Sharron Gandy looks over handcrafted jewlery from Red Door Studio at the City Market.

VALDOSTA — When Goodwill announced it would move from its long-time downtown location, people wondered what would become of the multi-storefront facility. The historic building would not sit empty for long. A collective of downtown enthusiasts had a vision to create a new business that would not only bring shoppers downtown, but also would be an incubator for new business.

Construction work started, and people were buzzing about what would become of the old Goodwill building. While maintaining the historic architectural value, the exterior was re-stuccoed, flooring replaced, partitions removed, the entire interior painted and a very urban, stylish awning hung above the front doors announcing that the City Market would soon open.

The idea to open a French-style market that focused on local art was initially owner Albert Slone’s idea, but he credits Main Street Director Niki Knox. Slone was joined by Mike Lee, Stan White and Darrell Brantley in making the investment in opening yet another business to bring life to Valdosta’s downtown.

After visiting many similar markets to discover what they did not want, they finally chose Ouida Lampert, owner of Art Effects, to manage the market and bring her creativity to the planning process. Lampert and White planned the space design, interior decor and vendors to participate. More help came from another friend, Richard Miller.

“We were trying to create a warm, inclusive, fun atmosphere,” Lampert said. “A place to come, shopping or not, and just enjoy the art and relax with friends.”

The owners are very supportive of local arts; they wanted to provide them with an outlet to display and create as well. The third floor of the facility was renovated to provide 20 rental spaces for artists as well as space for the Southern Artists League to meet.

Storage makes up most of the second floor. While Lampert hopes to renovate it and has many ideas for its use, she isn’t sure exactly what is in store.

Downstairs is strictly mercantile with a snack shop, a custom framing shop several areas for sitting and relaxing and more than 70 possible vendor display spaces. The snack shop at City Market has yet to open. While it has passed its health inspection, it is still awaiting a required license for plumbing. Lampert reported that the 10-day review period has taken over two weeks. Once open, it will offer gourmet hotdogs, bratwurst and veggie-dogs, gourmet desserts, chips, Beanery coffee, soft drinks, beer and wine.

The frame shop at City Market provides the services that Lampert’s business, Art Effects, offered. She brought her business with her when she moved to be the general manager of City Market.

There are a multitude of vendors that proudly display their products. The eclectic combination of items for sale creates a unique atmosphere with an attractive, stylish appearance. City Market offers jewelry, spa products, candles, clothing, books, antique and new furniture, pottery, wearable art, home decor, decorative florals, sculptures, lamps, handmade tile, locally roasted coffee from The Beanery, miscellaneous gifts, handmade tile and a large collection of art from many local artists. Chair massages on Saturdays, Henna body art and lucky bamboo will be offered soon, as will live music on Friday nights. With so many different options, everyone will find their own niche.

Another unique feature is the communal art space set up near one of the front windows. Local artists like Craig Hawkins will work for everyone to see in this space providing a new insight into the mind of an creator at work.

Lampert believes while she had high expectations, the City Market has turned out much better than she expected.

“I had an idea, but I wasn’t prepared to see how many people would become involved and how much fun our vendors would have. They love being here,” she said. “City Market brings life and energy downtown.”

She hopes it will be an outlet for local artists and an incubator for small businesses. Vendors can take advantage of having a retail front they do not have to staff and as they grow move out to make room for more small businesses. She would also like to see it become a cultural center for shopping, entertainment and eating.

City Market made its debut Friday, Oct. 6, during First Friday’s downtown. Many turned out to celebrate with the new store, browse the amazing merchandise and have fun with Lampert and her staff. Each person to walk through the door that night and every day since has had a new, unique experience — an experience with culture, art and service that can only be found at the City Market.

City Market

Managers: Ouida Lampert and Elizabeth Harbin

Other management team members: Ann Johnston and John Olszewski

Owners: Albert Slone, Mike Lee, Stan White and Darrell Brantley

Phone: (229) 219-0007

Location: 101 N. Patterson St.

Hours: 10 a.m. until 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 1-6 p.m. Sunday

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