The Cardinal Market Celebrates Local Makers at Grand Central Mall

Inspiration comes from all places. For Victoria West of The Cardinal Market, a fourth-quarter pop-up market, it came from Johnson City, TN. She took that idea, expanded on it, molded it, and brought it to life in the Grand Central Mall. 

“There is a young lady in Johnson City, TN and she’s done so well bringing the community together that she’s opening a second location in Bristol, TN. She’s been fantastic in guiding me about the whole process and how things are working out for her,” Victoria said. 

As quickly as Victoria had the idea, it became a reality. 

“I was going to put in a kiosk to increase foot traffic for my other store, The Gift Gallery, but go big or go home,” Victoria said. “It made sense once I started investigating other opportunities and it made sense for other people in our community.”

The store opened that last week of September for the vendors and the following week for the public. During the first week, many vendors sold out after an overwhelming amount of support from the area. 

“There is something for everyone here. There are fresh flowers from Mackenzie’s in a vintage flower cart so people can pull fresh flowers and wrap them – we can even deliver within the mall,” Victoria said. “A couple of local businesses even went together to give a business opportunity to a young boy who makes soy candles. He’s going to be a freshman in high school and he just started his business. Myself, Chris Bender, and Beth Patterson are sponsoring him for this opportunity.”

The store is lined with all sorts of locally made goods from deliciously scented bath and body products to gourmet fudge, to the perfect outfit for any toddler. All items are handmade and locally-sourced with vendors who stand by and believe in their products. 

“I’m so excited about the people who support this. The spirit of working locally is much better than corporate. They come to find something meaningful and it’s so much easier to connect with them like this,” Manager Amauri Tillman said.

The store isn’t just retail though. Given the sprawling size of the venue, they are able to host woodturning classes and painting classes to bring a fun and unifying experience during a socially distant time. 

“I want this to bring hope and unity to the area. So many times people think that when you own a small business that everyone is your competition, but it’s just the opposite.  Everyone has something to offer in terms of creativity,” Victoria said.

“I can’t imagine our areas if we took out the creativity. It’s local, and I love that. I love the opportunity and the venue. We’re all offering something unique so people don’t have to sit in their pajamas and order from Amazon. You can order something made in your community by people who give back to your community.”