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- photo by Ben McKeown
- Kim Hammer
I'm curious about the range of the selection. There are books and magazines, beers and wines, meats and cheeses, cleaning and beauty products.
If something is a North Carolina product and it's made with good ethos and it's shelf stable and it tastes good, I'll bring it in. We're a beautiful retail shop where you can come in and be excited to get something because it's a North Carolina thing.
As we're heading into summer, do you think you'll increase the produce selection?
The jury is still out on that. We get asked to have produce all the time, but it doesn't move, so we started asking people, 'What do you mean when you say produce?' And they'll say, 'bananas or avocados.' But we don't grow those in North Carolina.
Whether we have produce or how much we have will be directly decided by the neighborhood. I've got it right now because it's beautiful. If, a year from now, we don't anymore, I would still want to promote it adamantly. I would love to be a CSA pickup for a farm, because I will always try to promote people cooking and using local produce.
I imagine taking a blank slate and filling the shelves was a pretty massive project. How do you begin? Start with shoo-in products and go from there?
Josh [Lamm, Raleigh Provisions manager] and I started writing down products we loved and knew we wanted to have, vendors we already knew. Then we started growing and subdividing into categories.
What was one that you knew you wanted to have?
I always knew that I wanted to have Helen Pfann's bread [from Night Kitchen in Seaboard Station]. She's incredibly talented and that was one of the things I was most excited about—to be able to take her wonderful bread and plop it in the center of downtown.
What about some vendors or products that were really great discoveries for you?
Amanda [Fisher from The Blackmere Company] is a great example. No one does what she does. No one else makes lemon curd or clotted cream. And discovering Jones von Drehle. They're an estate vineyard, so every grape they use, they grow. They're in the Yadkin Valley, which is probably the epicenter of great wine in the state.
When I first walked in, it felt like a cross between a market and a gallery. How did you design the space?
So many of the products, like Slingshot, Big Spoon, and French Broad, I can see that a lot of time and thought and money went into the branding. I've always admired that they never went, Oh, this is what peanut butter looks like, so I'll just make it look like that. I felt like this place should somehow reflect those products. And to me, the best way to do that is to put them on beautiful display, to show all the thought that went into them.
This article appeared in print with the headline "Market Savvy."