Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Sweet Auburn Curb Market

I had been to the DeKalb Farmers Market and the Buford Highway International Market but never heard of the Sweet Auburn Curb Market until I was recently invited there by someone new whom I met. Mickey wasn't just another customer there; she actually worked one day at week at the market helping a friend with a business there. So, she has an insider's view of the Curb Market, which is where I got most of this information.

It reminded me immediately of a smaller version of markets I'd seen in Boston, Baltimore, and Helsinki, with an assortment of butchers, bakers, candlestick makers and places to eat as well as fresh produce and a pharmacy. It has been around since 1918, first in a massive tent, and then in the building it still occupies, at 209 Edgewood Ave. SE near downtown Atlanta. At the time it was established, it was at the geographic center of Atlanta. Today, it's a quiet neighborhood (as quiet as it can be underneath I-75/85) near Georgia State University and Grady Memorial Hospital and adjacent to the Auburn Avenue/Martin Luther King, Jr. district.

It's a dichotomy, a market "in transition" in a neighborhood "in transition." That's a popular phrase here in Atlanta used to describe "sketchy" places. Anyway, it's perfectly safe and a fun place to go and hang out and shop and have some great food. It feels like you are going back in time except for the organic shops, restaurants, and coffee shop. Therein lies the dichotomy, and so the market it teetering on the edge, deciding if it has to be one thing or the other or if it can be everything to everybody.

Some of the newer "organic" businesses are having a tough time, and several have gone under. Yes, organic does cost more. Does the market have the customers to support it? Does it have the marketing? Can it? Can it compete with the bigger ones? Should it?

While the building is a classic from the early 1900s, it could perhaps draw more business, especially for the new vendors, with some renovations and improvements. A facelift, inside and out, better signage, improved parking, to start with, could only improve the "experience" of visiting the market, which should be part of the marketing campaign.

I will say this--I have never been able to find real Georgia peaches in the other markets or the supermarkets. So, where do they go? Maybe, just maybe, I will be able to get them here at the Curb Market.

Organic, authentic, delicous Italian food at Ciao Bocca!