With the community and the world reeling from the effects of the shutdowns brought on by COVID-19, Shanna Martin found herself in a predicament. Like most everyone else she was restless, ready for something new. She also was ready to bring something new to her community.
While discussing the situation with close friend Laura McCreary, Martin came to realize what she wanted to do.
“We were just talking one day, and I said, ‘Laura, I want to do something new here. What I want to do is I want a business,’” Martin said. “And me personally, I love yard work. I love flowers. I love people. I love just all that. And I thought, Baldwyn needs good produce. We need flowers and you know, just something different. We don’t have anywhere to go. You have to go all the way to Booneville, Corinth, Saltillo or Tupelo, and I can’t afford to do what I want to do in my yard in other stores with their prices.”
Combine those thoughts with being stuck at home due to the Coronavirus and needing to do yard work, and, just like that, the seeds – very fast-growing seeds – were planted for one of Baldwyn’s newest businesses – South Market. Opened just three weeks after Martin and McCreary had that conversation, the duo has launched exactly what they wanted to see here.
South Market brings not only fresh produce and foods and a selection of live plants to the market, but also locally and regionally produced goods and items not available here previously.
The business was started small and on a shoestring budget, and McCreary said things just clicked and fell into place from the start of their concept, which helped them open quickly. They found the perfect building, at the corner of South 4thStreet and Lee Street West. They found a local artist to paint the mural on the side of the building – a canvas that isn’t quite finished. And they quickly found food items and produce that filled a niche in the market, though getting some things from local farmers was challenging given the growing season had really just begun when the business launched in mid-May.
Martin and McCreary are picky about the produce and foods they stock, wanting to ensure they have high-quality, fresh foods at prices that remain affordable. As gardens have started coming in they look to by vegetables from area gardeners and stock supplies from local growers, Crowe Farms.
“People do want to support local. We are a very important element in what’s going on right now,” McCreary said. “We keep things fresh and we’re trying our best to keep prices as low as possible but still give them the best quality possible. We try everything we buy. If we don’t like it. We don’t sell it.”
In addition to fruits, vegetables, South Market offers a host of frozen goods and other food items, such as locally home-baked breads, cakes from Sugaree’s Bakery in New Albany, items from West Side Barbecue and Mississippi farm-raised catfish filets from the Delta. They offer curbside pickup for those who want to remain in their vehicle and also offer free delivery inside Baldwyn. For more information, contact South Market at 662-873-FARM (3276) or follow them on Facebook.
Business has been strong since South Market opened, and already there are plans to expand – though, in sticking to the business plan, Martin said they are doing it as frugally as possible. They have also relied heavily on the support of family and friends, which Martin said has made all the difference in the world.
“We did this on a budget,” said Martin, who gets emotional when discussing the level of support she and McCreary have experienced. “This couldn’t have been possible without our friends and family.”
“It’s been a family thing,” McCreary said, who was quick to praise the support of Lori Tucker and the Baldwyn Main Street Chamber and business leaders in the community, such as Jeff and Penny Webb, from whom Martin and McCreary lease their building. “Everyone has just jumped right in. Without our wonderful God and family, we couldn’t do this.”