Window Shopping: Winter Pearl Market

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Downtown dwellers and workers can look forward to buying locally grown strawberries this winter. And lettuce, green beans and tomatoes.

Sonie VanScoy is one of many Pearl Market regulars who have moved indoors for the market's cold-weather incarnation, where she'll be selling fresh fruits and vegetables from her hydroponic farm.

Winter Pearl Market opened last week at 20 E. Broad St. and will be open from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays and Fridays through Feb. 26 - the same schedule shoppers were used to with the outdoor market. As an added bonus, vendors are now accepting credit cards as payment.

Although it's not as easy as browsing the wares on the way to lunch, plenty of shoppers are taking a detour inside the new market to check out some of the best of locally made merchandise, said Kacey Campbell, promotions coordinator for the Capital Crossroads Special Improvement District, which operates the market.

"For here, it was really important for us to make sure we have high-quality offerings," she said.

Plenty of the 34 vendors are new to the market, including Nicki Strouss and Silvin Sutters, whose side-by-side booths are bursting with glazed pottery and handmade purses, scarves and hair accessories, respectively. Both applied to join the Winter Pearl Market to get exposure during the holiday season, they said.

With the move to a calmer, quieter indoor space comes increased organization. Vendors are divided into thematic areas: fresh produce and prepared foods, apparel and accessories, and pet-related products.

Take Ten Body Therapy, which got its start as a Pearl Market business and now has a storefront Downtown, has set up shop in the building's old bank vault in the back corner of the market as a massage retreat.

In addition to the vendors, a Holiday Marketplace room is filled with a rotating selection of work from vendors without a booth, like colorful duct-tape flowers and Mikamy Meadows' all-natural body products. Work from local visual artists will cover a wall in the center of the marketplace.

Red Snapper's mobile restaurant will still be dishing out Jamaican food on Pearl Alley at Broad Street, but the other lunch vendors Downtown workers came to rely on are absent. They're replaced by giftable prepared foods like homemade muffins, bread and cupcakes plus chocolate, roasted nuts and olive oils.

Thanks to a grant from the United States Department of Agriculture, the Winter Pearl Market will be back next year, Campbell said.

Winter Pearl Market

20 E. Broad St., Downtown