“We did close for six weeks,” said Worthington, Southern Market president, adding the marketplace re-opened May 1.
As with many businesses, the COVID pandemic opened pathways for creativity running a business.
“We’re getting a whole new website, Shopify,” where customers can shop merchants’ items that have been hands-selected, Worthington said. “(Customers) can actually shop with (the platform).”
The main website, SouthernMarketShops.com/, also is getting revamped.
“There will be an online shopping experience with all of our merchants, each having their own, individual portal through the website,” she said. “You’ll be able to hit ‘Shop’ and go into the person’s shop.”
This site is different from Shopify in that the merchants will individually run it, Worthington explained.
Along with events throughout the year, “We’ve also added other social media events, such as live sales on Facebook and Instagram,” she said. “Right now we have two a week.”
The live sales are for those who do not want to come in and shop but can shop online, Worthington explained.
Additionally, she said Southern Markets is going to do a new featured merchant video series called Meet the Merchants “so you can learn the personal side of each of our merchants, what inspired them to get started, how long they’ve been selling, where they’ve been selling, what they are making or buying.
“We will have it on the website, and we will have that on a YouTube channel,” Worthington added. “We’re gearing up for that right now.”
From the beginning
She and her mother, the late Francis Sexton who died in 2017, started the marketplace together in 1996, and Worthington took over operation of the marketplace in 2015.
“It’s been fun,” she said about running the business. “It allows us us to have a variety of merchants.
“We want to keep a high-end selection of merchandise,” she added. Among the food and items are “homemade” pimiento cheese and handmade candles.
“My daughter, Callie Worthington, is now taking over with me,” Worthington said. “She’s actually running a salon, Roots, here in (Southern Market).”
Southern Market, with close to 10,000 square feet, features booths by local merchants and artisans, where customers can find anything for their homes — and even apparel for themselves.
“We have accumulated approximately 200 of (the vendors) here,” Worthington said.
“We have 40 main (booth) shops (inside the marketplace), which we have subdivided some of them,” she added. “There are 50 local Etsy artists in one of our double shops.
“Some of the (artists) have expanded into shops themselves, and we have artists throughout who are not represented by Etsy.
Touting variety, “We’ve always been focused on home, gift, fashion and art, so the artisan section is only a part of what we do, but it’s an important part, especially with the post-COVID situation we find ourselves in,” Worthington said. “I’m sure there will be an even stronger bent toward ‘Made in America’ and supporting local businesses and local crafters.
“There’s a lot of diversity — something for everyone in here,” she added about the products available at Southern Market.
Hours are from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and closed on Sunday, except in November and December when hours are from 1 to 5 p.m.
For more information about Southern Market, visit online at SouthernMarketShops.com, call 865-588-2260 or send an e-mail to email@example.com