2101 Market Street
Grand Opening Party: 8/4-7
The Wilmington community shares pride in the constant efforts to support local venues, farms and other businesses for the sake of progress and local economy. For years Wilmingtonians have awaited a locally owned grocer placed in a convenient downtown location, which not only offers farmers’ markets products but also everyday needs that oblige customers to shop at multiple spots. The wait is finally over for such a store.
Carolina Farmin’ is the result of a lifetime of hard work and passion of local Wilmington entrepreneur and community leader Wayne Long. Long grew up in a tiny community in Shallotte where he was inspired by the small grocery store owned by his father. It’s the same place he currently owns and cultivates his 40 acres on Prospect Farms.
Long’s passion for small business and community inspired him to create not only a grocery store but a gathering place for customers to get to know people, learn about the food and where it comes from, and make a new friend or two in the process. Long has learned the importance of strong relationships and family through developing his dream. His sons and community partners have collaborated on everything from the building plans to beautifully handcrafted wooden shelves, counters and décor.
While not as big as a Harris Teeter, this new grocer is not as small as other natural food stores, like Tidal Creek Food Cooperative; it offers the best of both. Carolina Farmin’ is not only the much anticipated downtown grocery store but a seven-day-a-week farmers’ market and convenient one-stop shop created especially for community.
At the moment, produce will primarily be supplied by Long’s Prospect Farms and Albert’s Organics from Charlotte, NC, while other produce suppliers are still being sought after. “We’re going to be constantly adding more community suppliers as we go along,” Susan Johnson, of SakiSaki Marketing, explains. “We’re still building relationships [and] focusing on surrounding counties like Brunswick, Pender and New Hanover. Its central location [on Market Street] is meant to reach out to more cultures and communities within a two-mile radius but bring in people from outside that radius, too.”
Loosely organized atop those previously mentioned locally crafted tables and baskets, customers won’t see a “gallery” of perfectly polished fruits and vegetables. “Nothing fancy—no bells and whistles, just fresh local produce,”Angela Koch, Carolina Farmin’s community development manager, describes. “Ultimately, the focus is on fresh food that tastes better.”
Fresh meats provided by Mac’s Farms (Newton Grove, NC) and seafood from Blackburn Brothers’ Seafood (Carolina Beach) stand ready to be selected from pristine glass cases. Some of the best Artisan cheeses can be found, in addition to wine, beer and choice breads from Neomonde Bakery of Raleigh, and homemade gelato ice cream. All are paired with truly hospitable and knowledgeable vendors and employees. There will also be two trained chefs on staff, so Carolina Farmin’ is able to offer unique services other grocers can’t.
While owner Wayne Long, Mayor Bill Saffo and other “special guests” will be attending the official ribbon-cutting ceremony in August, the buzz is it won’t be a typical “cookie-cutter ribbon opening,” according to Johnson (with a literal emphasis on the cookie portion). “We want it to be fun and less traditional.”
The fun will appeal to all ages and interests with much anticipated events and activities. To start, National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day kicks off events on Thursday, and Carolina Farmin’ welcomes cookie recipe submissions that day for the best cookie. In weeks to come, the winner will have his or her cookie featured in the bakery case.
They will also serve up slices from a giant birthday cake and indulge in “Appie Hour,” which focuses around samplings of appetizers and other products while new customers and staff mingle with each other. Friday is “Hey! Day” where everyone—employees, suppliers and customers—wear name tags in support of getting to know community and supplier partners. Saturday’s Kids Day opens with a scavenger hunt with free farmer’s hats for the first 100 kids to get there. Also offered will be meal ideas and recipes for customers to pick up throughout the day.
Sunday, err, “Sundae” wraps the party up with Ice Cream Day. The first 50 people get free ice cream and all ice cream products will be offered at half price for the entire day.
Easy and safe access is available off Market Street in the large parking lot behind Port City Java, and bike racks will keep bikers’ rides safe. Keeping the oppressive heat in mind, guests will also have access to cold water, air conditioning and seating in the café or “kitchen” area.
Music, kids’ activities, discounts and giveaways are planned over the course of four days. Plus, they’re planning a bonus day of surprises on Monday morning, to be announced soon.
The grand opening for Carolina Farmin’ starts Thursday August 4th and continues through Sunday the 7th during normal operating hours, 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. or and Sunday, noon to 8 p.m.