Coldstream Market Consolidates to 521 Union Ave., Closes Market Square Store

Sandy Havener, Owner, Coldstream Market, 521 Union Ave., Knoxville, January 2016

Sandy Havener, Owner, Coldstream Market, 521 Union Ave., Knoxville, January 2016

It was an experiment for downtown Knoxville and, in the end, a successful one. When Coldstream Market announced its opening in September 2013 at 34 Market Square, the event was notable not only because it brought a new business to downtown and Market Square, but because it was a first for second story, walk-up retail in the city – at least in recent history. The question was: Would it work?

The answer clearly is that it can and did work. Sandy Havener operated Coldstream Market at that location for over two years. During those two years her business did very well. What she didn’t anticipate was how well the very large pieces of furniture built from re-purposed wood and/or metal would sell. This became a problem in relation to those stairs which made the address unique.

Coldstream Market, 521 Union Ave., Knoxville, January 2016

Coldstream Market, 521 Union Ave., Knoxville, January 2016

Coldstream Market, 521 Union Ave., Knoxville, January 2016

Coldstream Market, 521 Union Ave., Knoxville, January 2016

And so, last September Sandy announced the opening of a second location at 521 Union Avenue which would handle larger items, as well as a variety of the smaller antiques, vintage and home decor items she offered at the other store. While she wasn’t certain whether she’d continue to maintain the two stores, the subsequent three months gave her enough information to make the decision that she’d close 34 Market Square and focus her energies on the more recent location.

First and foremost in her decision to close the first location was the fact that the Union Avenue location did well from the beginning. Sales at the two locations were very close to the same for those three months. The foot traffic at the new location pleasantly surprised Sandy, who braced herself for a lower level. She cited the pedestrian traffic walking to Pete’s at lunch and breakfast, as well as workers returning to their cars at the end of office hours. She also mentioned the devotion of so many customers to Union Avenue Books.

She did notice differences in the people walking by, which included more downtown residents – particularly from the Daylight and Pembroke buildings. Whereas much of her business on Market Square centered on tourists, it appears to have shifted to residents and she hopes that will continue.

Other differences in the locations also suggested that the new location might be best for her. The original reason for moving – the heavy furniture she sells – proved to be as important as she’d imagined. People pull their cars to the front of the store and load furniture. She’s had other’s carry their purchase to the elevator and up into the Daylight Building. Her husband, Charlie, carried one table across the street to Kendrick Place.

Coldstream Market, 521 Union Ave., Knoxville, January 2016

Coldstream Market, 521 Union Ave., Knoxville, January 2016

Coldstream Market, 521 Union Ave., Knoxville, January 2016

Coldstream Market, 521 Union Ave., Knoxville, January 2016

Additionally, some of the problems that seemed, in her opinion, to be increasing on Market Square, such as an increase in panhandling and shoplifting have not been nearly so problematic at the new location. She had customers from out of town saying panhandling seemed to be worse here and shoplifting seemed to be getting worse.

She’s also found that the support offered between the businesses on her block has been exceptional. She pointed out that they are all independent and local and that matters. They look out for one another and work together and that’s been her favorite factor at the new location.

Another variable with the decision was the expense of maintaining two locations with twice the rent and the staffing required. I saw her primarily as a blur those three months and she ran from one location to the other, in her words “putting out fires” first at one and then the other.

She still enjoys and wants the business of tourists, but recognizes the importance of support from residents – both downtown and local. These are the people who will more likely ensure the store’s survival in the longer term. It’s true of all independent downtown businesses, of course, they need your support. Sandy said that even coming in to browse, bringing guests to see the store and remembering that she sells small items – key chains, cards, candles, flowers – also helps.

Coldstream Market, 521 Union Ave., Knoxville, January 2016

Coldstream Market, 521 Union Ave., Knoxville, January 2016

Coldstream Market, 521 Union Ave., Knoxville, January 2016

Coldstream Market, 521 Union Ave., Knoxville, January 2016

In retrospect, she says she loved the original space, but the new space feels more like home, like it’s where she belongs. She’ll be going to market in Atlanta right away and will soon have lots of new items. She’s also interested in hearing from downtown residents what they feel she could carry that would add to the range of goods needed for downtown living. She’s open Monday and Tuesday from 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM, Wednesday through Saturday 10:00 AM – 7:00 PM and, for January, at least, is closed Sundays.

Looking at implications from the details of the story, I’d offer a few observations: Walk up retail can work and there is a space available on Market Square. More retail would help the retail already here – like the space across from Sandy’s on Union Avenue in the Pembroke, which is currently available. It’s been office space, but would be better suited, in my view, to retail at this point and would help and be helped by the retail across the street. Finally, I’ve noticed the increase in panhandling and it seems to have become more aggressive. That’s a concern if we want people to feel comfortable coming to the city.

Comments

  1. We are elated to have Coldstream Market as a next-door neighbor on Union Ave. I go in there almost everyday just to see what has arrived in the store. Sandy is the best!

  2. I live and work downtown and I can tell you for certain that most of the panhandlers are professionals – they are not homeless people or folks down on their luck. Please, please don’t give them money. It only encourages them. Most folks who fall for them are visitors from the suburbs or toutists. And I hate that.

  3. Great information! Thanks. Any idea how the rent of the up upstairs Market Square space compares to the open Union Ave. space?

  4. Art Wagner says:

    On the subject of panhandling–
    Most people either don’t take the time to report panhandling (aggressive or otherwise) or they are afraid they’ll be poo-pooed by police. Unfortunately, reporting it is the only way that we can get action on this issue. There are ordnances that severely limit begging; being familiar with what the anti-panhandling laws state is the first step.

    Also, be aware that a huge majority of panhandlers are either professional beggars or are petty criminals. Feeling manipulated pity and giving them, or any panhandler, money is not helping anyone. It is perpetuating the problem. There are plenty of City services for those that really need help.

  5. I’ve noticed that too about the panhandling. While there are still beggars who kindly ask for spare change or a couple dollars, (which I’ll happily oblige to), there have been two occasions where it felt more like a mugging than a panhandling. One man outside Pete’s, after I bought him a meal, asked me if I could spare $50. Another woman asked if I could give her $20. I told her I had no cash on me, and she got in my face and sarcastically said that there was an ATM across the street. Absolutely ridiculous

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