LITTLETON - Kay Allen, Deborah Allen and their crew made a day of it on a Friday afternoon in June: lunch at the lake followed by shopping in downtown Littleton. Yes, shopping in downtown Littleton. It’s a thing now, thanks in large part to the May opening of Wanda Clark’s The Village Market on North Main Street.
Diane Rogers, in the Allen party, made the trip down from Drewryville, Va. in Southampton County with Kim Mattox.
“I feel like you can shop,” Rogers said of The Village Market. “It’s a pleasant experience. And you’re talking to professional shoppers here.”
That’s kind of what Clark was going for when she opened the shop, which specializes in home furnishings and flowers, and has a similar vibe to Clark’s Once Upon a County Line Emporium, which opened five years ago on Main Street. The Village Market operates on a larger scale in a more expansive setting with space for small events or classes in the back of the shop, which is divided into several rooms ornately designed and stocked with items for sale. “So we’re able to do accommodations for furniture, home furnishings, home decor, lamps, wall art,” Clark said, “to the scale that we could not accommodate across the street.”
Clark wants The Village Market, which is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., to be a downtown destination. The inspiration? As Clark alluded to, the new shop grew out of demand from Once Upon a County Line.
The Village Market features expanded boutique apparel and fresh, locally-sourced flowers. And soon, as early as this month, it will be home to Turtle Creek at Lake Gaston products like jalapeño pepper jellies, gift baskets - and more. Turtle Creek will be opening a gourmet food market inside of the store, including Raleigh-based Ladyfingers gourmet food to go (frozen and refrigerated items), Third Generation Italian Marinara Sauce prepared by Chef Antonio Carlo of Wilmington, and Killer Toffee.
“We’ve got it going on in Littleton,” Clark said, “and people need to find that out.”
Clark sees Littleton as more of a “village” than a town, hence the theme of the new venture. There’s a lot going on in Littleton now, and The Village Market represents another extension of that development.
“Obviously the fresh flowers is a great thing - they’re locally sourced in Warren County,” Clark said. “The new furniture is great at great prices. Lamps - there was just nowhere to get that kind of stuff around here. And people don’t have to go to Raleigh or Richmond to go shopping for home furnishings now.”
Turtle Creek at Lake Gaston, owned by Lisa and Joe Kroner, furthers the variety in The Village Market. Included in the inventory are eight jalapeño products, a cranberry apple walnut relish and a tomato preserve.
The Kroners have operated Turtle Creek since 2014, growing their own jalapeños, and their products have been available in other stores, as far away as Blue Moon Gift Shops in Wilmington, N.C.
In the meantime, you’ll be able to find Lisa, a Roanoke Rapids native who retired to the lake from the Triad, behind the sales counter of The Village Market.
“I think the way the store is displayed,” Lisa said, it gives people different ideas on how they can do things differently in their own home. That’s what I like about it. And the other thing too is it’s never the same store twice. There’s always new merchandise coming in. I like to shop in places like that, where if I’m in a store one week and then I go back, a week later, I see new things and I see them displayed in different ways.”
Lauren Ruff traversed the shop with her family, visiting from Wake County, on the same day the Allens and their Virginia visitors stopped in. Ruff said, “We’ve been in here for a very long time” because there was so much to take in.
Lake Gaston’s Jane Carpenter was shopping with the Allen group along with Alyson Cooke and Madison Hargrave.
“I love what they’re doing here in Littleton,” Carpenter said. “They’re darling shops here.”
Clark called opening The Village Market a leap of faith, but said so far the response has been overwhelming.
“And everybody says, ‘We’re so glad your’e here,’” Clark said, “‘ - something else to do in Littleton.’”