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A share of the shopping

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534 Main Street offers grub and goods

By Ashley Sutter

 Just glancing along the 500 block of Main Street you’ll see a row of vibrant businesses utilizing historic buildings.  With lovely window décor, friends mingling at coffee shops and music along the sidewalks, it looks like many other thriving Main Streets in America. But Shelbyville’s Main Street has a hidden jewel just beyond the Bourbon Kitchen at 524.

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Take a few steps past the revamped restaurant and you’ll find Sharecroppers Urban Co-op Market.  Though indoors, the rows of shops have their own Main Street vibe, complete with sidewalks and artificial grass.

The market features 8 retails stores including the She Shed, offering jewelry, gifts, art and home décor and the Woodworking Maniak with locally handcrafted wood game boards, cutting boards, pens, signs and other gifts.

And more stores are in the works, including Little Mount Lavender Co., which is expected to open soon.

Melinda Hardin, who owns the building with her husband, Ben, said they were excited to bring something so unique to Shelby County.

“We have seen the model loosely done in some of the other places we have traveled,” she said, noting they felt this would be a great opportunity for small businesses.

“One of the challenges of being a small business owner is being able to have employees and being able to man your station.”

The solution is provided through a point of sale station.

“The common point of sale, it frees up local artisans and local shop owners to still be able to do another job that draws a regular income,” she said. “It’s a less risky model for a shop owner to be able to go into a preexisting building where they are not owners.”

And the point of sale station is beneficial to the customers, as well, she said, explaining shoppers can pick up items from several different vendors and stop at just one register on their way out.

“Instead of going to four registers for that, we have the one register,” she said. “You have this sort of streamlined shopping experience.”

At three hundred square feet per space, Hardin said the spaces are manageable but provide enough space for vendors to offer a decent collection of goods for shoppers to browse through.

“They come across really well,” she said. “It’s a bite-size, manageable space, at a reasonable rent, alongside other people with collective energy and efforts.”

As the new spaces open, foot traffic is starting to grow.

“Right now there is some accidental traffic,” Hardin said, noting many who stop in to eat at the Bourbon Kitchen are pleasantly surprised to find a row of stores in the back. But she hopeful those coming to shop the downtown stores will soon learn of the new spaces. “We are very hopeful there will be an interplay between restaurant goers and shoppers.”

For small business owners, or interested business owners, there are still a few more spaces up for grabs.

Those interested in becoming a Sharecropper may contact Hardin at 655-3535.