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Opening Day

October 17
00:00 2014

Public gets first look at Liberty Street Market

With 25 years of retail experience under her belt, Lynette Fitzgerald could probably sell ice during a snowstorm.

A pitch that drastic wasn’t required Saturday morning as she paraded women before a full-length mirror and bedizened them with her custom-made shawls, scarves and frocks.

Lynette Fitzgerald models one of her designs.

Lynette Fitzgerald models one of her designs.

“You see how this black and gray just sets everything off?” she asked one potential buyer.
Fitzgerald was one of about a dozen vendors hawking their wares at the Liberty Street Market. The open air vendors’ space celebrated its grand opening with a ribbon-cutting that was preceded by remarks from city and community leaders who recalled Liberty Street of yore – an area rich in the African American entrepreneurial spirit.

Fitzgerald, who crafts her Lynn’s Special Tees line from cotton t-shirts, is quite familiar with Liberty Street’s past and hopeful that the market can help reawaken those glory days.

“I have a lot of memories of Liberty Street when it was popping,” she said. “I am a native of Winston-Salem; this is part of my heritage.”

The City of Winston-Salem built the market – two large covered shelters and with parking spaces for customers. Mercedes-Empowers, Inc. won a contract to manage the facility, which, initially, will open Thursday through Saturday from 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. Mercedes Miller, who heads the company, said the high hopes that hang on the market are fueling her drive to make it a success.

Mercedes Miller speaks.

Mercedes Miller speaks.

“I feel the pressure to do a good job, to make this community better … to make the community happy,” she said.

Taste Jamaica’s Sonia Beckford serves a customer.

Taste Jamaica’s Sonia Beckford serves a customer.

Ardella C. Fuiell-Salimia, “The Bean Lady,” sells her products.

Ardella C. Fuiell-Salimia, “The Bean Lady,” sells her products.

Vendors offered an array of items Saturday – from fresh produce and baked sweets to African art and blue jeans.

Lateef Glover tries to make a sale.

Lateef Glover tries to make a sale.

Lateef Glover traveled from his home in Asheville to set up shop. His fragrances, women’s accessories and art pieces were popular earlier this summer when he sold them at Winston-Salem’s Juneteenth celebration. Someone affiliated with the Liberty Street Market recruited him at that event.

“It’s going pretty good for a first day,” he said. “This is the kind of place I like to do business.”
The funeral home run by Jerry C. Gilmore III and his family is one of the few black-owned businesses that has survived on Liberty Street.

“When we moved to this corner, (Highway) 52 was clay,” he said.

Jerry Gilmore III speaks.

Jerry Gilmore III speaks.

Gilmore’s Funeral Home is adjacent to the market. Mr. Gilmore hopes its presence portends that Liberty Street’s comeback is afoot. City leaders share that hope. They say they have long supported the street’s rebirth with funds and resources.

Mayor Pro Tempore Vivian Burke held a copy of Liberty Street Corridor feasibility study done in 1996 as she made her remarks. Burke, the longtime Northeast Ward City Council member, represents one part of Liberty Street; East Ward Council member Derwin Montgomery represents the other. Montgomery said patience and perseverance must be employed in Liberty’s reemergence.

“It won’t happen overnight, as much as we would like to wave that magic wand,” he said.

When it happens, Andre Russell plans to have a new crop of entrepreneurs ready to take full-advantage. His Future Endeavors L.L.C. (www.bandtwogether.com), a youth consulting agency, is a market vendor, but with a twist. He has recruited 10 teenagers to sell socks, beauty products and other items. They keep 25 percent of the profits.

Future Endeavors’ Founder Andre Russell poses with Terrance McNeil Jr.

Future Endeavors’ Founder Andre Russell poses with Terrance McNeil Jr.

“They will eventually become their own bosses,” said Russell, a New Jersey native who is applying the business skills he learned on the streets to help keep kids on the straight and narrow.

The market’s first day was a bit nostalgic for Tarreyton Carson, who was selling some of the colorful, lush products from his Zael’s Florist.

His first foray into the flower business was at Jan’s Florist, one of Liberty Street’s many long ago perished black businesses. The building that once housed the shop stood just over Carson’s shoulder as he worked the market crowd. It was a full-circle moment for Carson, who opened his shop on Dominion Street earlier this year.

Tarreyton Carson chats with the Housing Authority’s Larry Woods (left).

Tarreyton Carson chats with the Housing Authority’s Larry Woods (left).

“This is kind of where I got my start because (Jan’s) inspired me,” he said.

The Liberty Street Market, 1591 N. Liberty St., has a number of special programs upcoming. On Saturday, Nov. 1, the Busta Brown Fall Music Festival will take place. The market will open on Sunday on Nov. 2 and Dec. 7 to host “Citywide Community Yard Sale” events. Ribbers from throughout the area will take part on Rib Fest on Liberty on Saturday, Nov. 15 and Sunday, Nov. 16. To rent space at the market, call Terrance McNeil at 336-793-3441 or email lsvm@nullearthlink.net.

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T. Kevin Walker

T. Kevin Walker

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