Farmers’ Market planned for Lady Street at Columbia’s Vista


A farmers market business plans to occupy the ground floor of 912 Lady St. in the Vista, with a possible opening this fall.

A market that would offer produce from local farms, baked goods and other items is planned for Lady Street, in the heart of downtown Columbia’s Vista shopping and hotel district.

Meanwhile, Studio Cellar, a painting and tasting arts and events company that is currently located where the market plans to be, will have to vacate the space. The studio owner said he has yet to finalize a deal for a new location and is looking for investors to help shake things up.

The Farmers Market project is planned for the ground floor at 912 Lady St. in the Vista. Neset Hikmet, a project developer whose family owns Toms Creek Family Farms in Hopkins, said he thinks the district needs a market where customers can go daily to buy fresh produce, coffee house roasted and more.

“The idea came to us when we said, ‘Why not do it the old-fashioned way, where people can come in and grab a few tomatoes or other items they’ll need that day? “, Hikmet said. “They will know that it is fresh and that there will be variety, because it may not be the same every day. … We want to build an environment where people who live there, or who come to work and then come home, can buy fresh produce, fresh meat, fresh baked goods.”

Hikmet said the market would have a dedicated area for sandwiches, fresh coffee and a small bakery.

The old warehouse at 912 Lady Street was completed in 1914, according to Historic Columbiaand was originally built for Kirkland Distribution Company.

City Design/Development Review Board voted on July 21 to support some changes to the building’s exterior, including replacing four windows on the west side of the building with roll-up bay doors, a nod to the building’s original design.

Toms Creek Family Farms often sells produce on weekends at the Soda City Market in Colombia. Hikmet said Toms Creek produce will be available at Lady Street Market, and produce from other South Carolina farms will also be offered. The name of the installation has not yet been chosen.

City Art, the corner art store and gallery at 1224 Lincoln St., is not associated with the redesign of the Lady Street property for the market, Hikmet said. . It remains open.

Hikmet said his group recently reached an agreement to purchase the first floor of 912 Lady St. for the market project. Plans force the release of this space from Studio Cellar, an art studio that offers painting and casting classes where patrons can create art and sip wine, as well as an event space and other uses related to art. Cellar workshop has been operating and leasing the Lady Street space since 2013.

Studio owner Charlotte Gaskins told The State that the store was working hard to find another nearby location in the Vista where it could relocate, but had yet to finalize such a deal. As it stands, the studio is due to vacate the first-floor space at 912 Lady St. by next week, Gaskins said.

Gaskins, who said the studio’s business is booming, said she was considering buying a new space for Studio Cellar but ran into some hurdles, including rising interest rates. interest and other factors in an unequal economy.

“We are about to look for investors to try to save the company,” Gaskins said. “We’re hoping to put something out there…trying to reach an investor or someone who wants to see Studio Cellar stay in the community.”

Hikmet, who is a professor at the University of South Carolinasaid the Farmers’ Market has an “aggressive” plan to prepare the space at 912 Lady St., and he and his family hope the market will open this fall.

He thinks the time has come for the market.

“South Carolina is an agricultural state,” Hikmet said. “We should highlight this and encourage other younger generations to take up farming and support the local economy. We don’t have to depend on distant products. South Carolina is healthy, climate-friendly, and capable of producing many products.

This story was originally published July 27, 2022 1:07 p.m.

Chris Trainor is a retail reporter for The State and has worked for newspapers in South Carolina for more than 17 years, including previous stops at the (Greenwood) Index-Journal and the (Columbia) Free Times. He is the recipient of numerous awards from the South Carolina Press Association, including honors in column writing, government reporting, profile writing, food writing, election coverage, and more.

James V. Payne