With an eye toward the discerning buyer, The Market at Washington and High opened Wednesday, offering an alternative approach to food shopping that is unique in Blount County.
Five separate vendors under one roof will be selling meats and poultry, fresh fish, specialty dry goods, gourmet deli items and select produce.
You say you can get all that at a big-box supermarket? Maybe, but Dan Mizell says that The Market is for those for whom quality carries a high priority.
The Market, located in a 1920s-vintage building that until recently housed a coin-operated laundry, was Mizell’s brainchild, and his partner in the venture is Paul “Butch” Clark, who owns the building.
Mizell, a real estate broker, says the idea for such a market has been rolling around in his head for a decade and a half, and when the building at Washington and High became available, his idea became a reality.
As any good real estate person will tell you, location is the key to success, so Mizell instantly knew this was where to plant the seed of his dream.
The idea was to replicate, so to speak, the market places of Seattle, New York and other places where buyers can get the freshest of goods from vendors who specialize because “they do it best.” So he and Clark provide the building, leasing space to independent business owners who pay a percentage of their profits to the Market partnership.
Indeed, a shopper at The Market who buys from more than one vendor will check out pretty much with each one. And the vendors, all local people, have their own phone lines, for that matter.
Vicki Hinkle and her husband, John, will be operating Oak Park Grocery & Dry Goods, which carries specialty oils, dressings, sauces, pasta, drink mixes, even popcorn that is still on the cob.
The inventory comprises goods that are not available anywhere else in Blount County, Vicki Hinkle said.
Oak Park also carries pickles, salsa and more made by the CHeRiTH VaLLeY outfit in Fort Worth. It also carries local honey, handmade brooms, and baskets and bags woven in Africa.
John Hinkle is a banker, and Vicki Hinkle characterized herself as a stay-at-home mom. But now the couple has “an empty nest,” she said. And since she has always liked to cook and prepare meals, “it just fell into place,” she said.
The owner of Ciao Deli is a man with about as varied a career background as can be imagined. Todd White started out as a veterinarian, morphed into an architectural designer and now is in the prepared food business.
White said his shop will offer “prepared food to go” or, as he puts it, “entrees rather than sandwiches.”
He said there will be smoked barbecue every day. He characterized his part of The Market as having “lunch and dinner to go,” that is ready to take home and eat.
White said he, too, has always loved food and cooking and will take the best of what he knows and hire experienced people to run the deli.
White also will offer a selection of specialty and foreign beers, including what he called a “dessert beer” designed to be consumed with chocolate and another from a German brewery that was founded in 1040 A.D.
Tracy Monday will run the Laurel Creek Farms portion of the Market. Monday said he farms about 500 acres in Sunbright, Tenn., and will offer the best of his cattle, sheep, goats, poultry, hogs and game birds for sale at The Market.
Freshness is the main thing with Monday, he said, adding that most times the animal will be alive one day and in his cooler the next.
“It’s not certified organic,” he said, “but it’s pretty close.”
By later this year, he said, he hopes to add deer, antelope and bison to the inventory.
Mike Adams, a former chef in Maine and Boston, will be managing the Blue Moon Fish Co. at The Market. He promises nothing older than four days in his shop, and said that he has set up a network that will allow fish to arrive in his business only hours after it comes off the boat on the Gulf Coast. In addition, he said, he will have farm-raised trout from Chattanooga and some salmon.
His Gulf selection will include grouper, trigger fish, amberjack, flounder, shrimp and more. And he adds that he can and will special-order fish for customers.
The last vendor in The Market is Marketfresh Produce, owned by Mizell himself.
Mizell is the former owner, for 17 years, of the Horn of Plenty, a plant and produce store near Maryville High School.
He says his new venture is nothing like his former, and he says the emphasis will be on locally-produced fruits and vegetables.