JACKSON — A newly-painted lime green and purple cottage along the Fortification Street corridor that cuts a path through Jackson’s Greater Belhaven neighborhood is drawing a lot of attention, but not for its funky colors or unusual name.
Rather, ARTichoke, as the business is called, is generating buzz for the role it is playing in the development of the historic neighborhood’s business district. The seeds for the budding gift shop were planted at the Greater Belhaven Market, and the fruit represents the success of four popular market vendors who decided to try selling their wares full-time.
“We met through the market and wanted individually to have our own business, but just couldn’t swing it alone,” said Ann Campbell, whose Twisted Scissors market booth sells, among other things, architectural salvage that has been artistically recycled into functional, new designs. “We started talking and realized this was something we could do together.”
When Campbell and the others — Carmen Brooks of Brook’s Riverwalk soaps and body products; Carmen Castilla of Carmen’s Creations and Sheri Hicks, who makes elegant, hand-crafted jewelry — realized that the former floral shop on Fortification Street was available, they jumped at the chance to have a business in the neighborhood.
“None of us live in Belhaven, but have come to love the neighborhood and people from the Greater Belhaven Market,” said Campbell. “We really want the Belhaven area to be not only a great place for people to live, but to shop, as well.”
That sentiment fits the mission of the Greater Belhaven Neighborhood Foundation (GBNF), a non-profit organization charged with being the proactive, long-range planning arm for the neighborhood, and of the Greater Belhaven Market, which is designed to serve as a business incubator.
“While the market has spun several successful businesses in its five years of operation, this is the first business venture from the market into Greater Belhaven’s growing business district,” said Virgi Lindsay, executive director of the Greater Belhaven Neighborhood Foundation. “Having a unique shop owned by Belhaven market vendors in Belhaven is the kind of economic development effort we need to take our vision from strategic planning to reality.”
People are paying attention to that vision. Lindsay said the building that houses ARTichoke was recently purchased by Brad Reeves as an investment in the mixed-use commercial area. Reeves, a resident of the nearby, flourishing Fondren district, saw the potential in Belhaven and wanted to be a part of its revitalization, Lindsay said.
“The GBNF awarded Reeves a $5,000 façade grant to renovate the exterior of the cottage,” she said. “We receive $25,000 in façade grant money from the City of Jackson each year as an economic development incentive to property owners in our Urban Main Street District. “
While the grant program is working as designed, and the market is spinning off businesses, one may wonder: Does it ultimately hurt the overall success of the Greater Belhaven Market when the market loses its most popular vendors?
Market director Cathy Massey says it does not.
“We have a waiting list for vendors, so the more stories like this, the better,” Massey stated. “We serve as a great ‘test market’ for all types of items, from art to food and more, and these ladies have found out they have great items that people will buy.”
“We don’t feel we have lost four vendors,” she continued. “They will probably still show at the market on occasion, and if they don’t, it will be because they are so successful that they don’t have time! That is the bittersweet goal of the Greater Belhaven Market..”
ARTichoke, which opened October 21, joins several other new businesses and attractions that have opened in the past year in Greater Belhaven, including Sophia’s at Fairview Inn, a restaurant serving “Southern chic” cuisine; Sapheneia, a multi-million-dollar, state-of-the-art cancer treatment center; the Lott-Stanton Gallery, the Pizza Shack and the Eudora Welty House Museum and Garden.