WFAEats sat down for a chat with Lynn Caldwell, manager of Atherton Market in SouthEnd. The market, which opened in May, attracts an average of 800 shoppers every week to purchase items from up to 30 local vendors on a market day. The market is located at 2104 South Boulevard and is open year-round on Tuesdays from 3pm-7pm, Wednesdays from 9am-1pm, and Saturdays 9am-2pm. Check it out!
WFAEats: Is Atherton Market different from your typical farmers’ market?
Lynn: Definitely! The market offers much more than fruits and vegetables. We have vendors selling flowers, baked goods, meat, seafood, bath products, artisanal chocolates – and the list goes on. We are an indoor market, open year-round. Our goal is to offer a one-stop shopping experience – we want you to come here for your produce and all of the other things you need to make meals at home. Education is also very important to us – from empowering our customers in the kitchen with cooking demos, to hosting field trips we want you to learn something while you are having fun and shopping.
WFAEats: Is all the produce local? Are all of the vendors local?
Lynn: Yes! We don’t adhere to a strict mileage definition of “local,” but all of the produce at the market is grown by the people who sell it, and our prepared food vendors are dedicated to using as many local ingredients as possible.
WFAEats: You mentioned that Atherton Market is year round – what kinds of things can you find there in the winter months?
Lynn: There is a wider variety of produce available in the fall and winter months than in the summer, and its more versatile and nutritionally dense food. Greens, root vegetables, and brassicas like broccoli are the darlings of cooler weather. With season extension techniques our growers can grow more food, faster, year-round. Meat is seasonal to some degree, though freezers extend that offering as well. We also make room during the holidays for local artisans and crafters – every dollar that is spent with a local business or a local farmer boosts our economy and creates opportunity right here in Charlotte.
WFAEats: What future plans do you have for the market?
Lynn: We have big plans for the future! But I also believe that it’s important in the near term to stay nimble enough to respond to supply and demand. One of our main objectives is for the market to become more of a place where people come spend time, hang out, grab a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, and chat with friends. To do this, we plan to add indoor seating to make it more inviting – to create a sense of place and community. We also plan to open a retail space within the market that complements our existing offerings with products from neighboring regions but still very locally focused. Our hope is that the market will become a one-stop shopping destination that people look forward to visiting on a regular basis. Finally, we want to diversify the market’s offerings by bringing in international vendors and a more diverse demographic of customers.
The full shopping bags and happy faces as shoppers leave the Atherton Market make it worth all the work behind the scenes to make it happen week after week. We’ve accomplished more in a short time than I ever thought possible, and hello Charlotte, we’re just getting started!