A longstanding shop tucked inside the Old Wilmington City Market debuted a new look this weekend.
The Carolina Country Store, long known to city market shoppers for its tasting table of seasoned pecans, briefly closed this month before unveiling a modern new look and expanded inventory when it reopened on Feb. 18. The store was founded in 2010 to support artisans with disabilities. In addition to the best-selling pecans, the store carries a selection of jams, jellies, sauces and other gourmet goods made in North Carolina.
David Scott, a consultant who works with food-related small businesses, helped owner Tim Corbett uplift the store. Scott was part of the team behind CraftGrown Market
, which opened on Castle Street last year.
“He wanted to paint the walls, and then I just kind of took over from there,” Scott said of the partnership with Corbett.
A fresh coat of paint was part of the transformation. Scott swapped the previous beige palette with a dark blue accent wall paired with pops of red throughout the space – including an old freezer door that Scott said dates back to the building’s early days as a produce market in the 1880s.
Scott uncovered the previously hidden door behind a shelf of jams and jellies during the uplift.
“When I took the shelving down, I realized that this cannot be covered. This is a sin,” he said.
Now painted bright red with fresh gold hardware, the door functions as both decoration and a nod to the space’s storied history.
“We just wanted to bring back a little bit of that history in a really casual, easy and inexpensive way, and we did it with this door,” Scott said.
Updated decor, light fixtures and shelving completed Scott’s aesthetic refresh of the store, which he hopes will create a “more modern” experience for visitors.
Accompanying the store’s new look is an expanded inventory of products —new additions include Pomona Shrub Company and Sea Monster Sauces — and an increased presence in the market’s walkway outside the store. In addition to the tasting table, the store is now offering its hallway kiosk for vendors on busy weekends. Queen Esther Herbal Teas was the first to take advantage of the opportunity when the store reopened on Feb. 18, according to Scott.
“She did phenomenal. She sold out twice,” he said.
The store is looking for other culinary vendors to book the kiosk for upcoming weekends. Although the business isn’t currently equipped with a kitchen, plans are underway to add a simple set-up that will enable the business to expand its line of local products to include cheese and other goods packaged in-house.
While the store’s look and inventory are in the midst of a makeover, Scott emphasized that the driving force of the business — its mission to support vocational opportunities for people with disabilities — will remain the same. This includes continued employment for Lindsay and Michael Schulz, siblings with Down syndrome who have worked there for years, often at the tasting table outside the store.
In some ways, Scott noted, “This is their store.”
Located at 119 S. Water St., Carolina Country Store is open from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. daily.
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