Main Street Market: Antiques, Artisans, Etc. has been a presence in downtown Mount Airy for four years. The store’s merchandise, including antiques and items made by local artists and artisans, draws both locals and tourists.
Julie Russell is the owner of the store, which is located at 140 N. Main Street in Mount Airy. Russell started her business in 2018, but she hoped to find a different location with more foot traffic from tourism. In 2019, she learned a space was available on Main Street in Mount Airy. Russell was third in line for the spot and thought she would never be able to obtain it.
When the landlord called her later and told her the other two leasers had backed out, she was shocked, but quickly took the opportunity and moved in December 2019.
“I was able to hit the ground running, and so far, I’ve kept up,” she said.
Russell sells a variety of merchandise, from antiques to collectibles to handmade pieces made by local artists and artisans. Customers can expect to find vintage furniture, paintings, stained glass, wood carvings, and handmade birdhouses. Main Street Market also sells collectibles such as glassware, marbles, comic books, antique tools, vintage Matchbox cars, and Mayberry memorabilia.
Russell rents out booths in her store to local vendors, a business model that many antique stores have followed in recent years. She carefully chooses vendors who will give customers a range of options. This structure also allows local artists and artisans to feature their work.
“It gives you a variety of things,” she said.
Russell currently has 42 vendors in her store and a long line of people wanting to sell their items at a booth in her space. She also said that vendors must come in often to restock their supply due to the amount of foot traffic her store receives.
Russell said that for many customers, walking through her store is like taking a walk down memory lane. “They walk through and they say, ‘Oh gosh, my Grandma had one of these,’ or, ‘You know, I remember this from my mother’s house when I was a child.’”
When she started her business, Russell mainly wanted to sell antiques. She was not prepared for the sense of community she would receive. One unexpected outcome of opening her store was the way she could share her faith with customers.
“I had people that I visited with that needed prayer and we would pray together,” she said. “Things like that aren’t in a normal course of business but have turned out to be very valuable to me and I feel like I am supposed to be a beacon.”
Russell received support from her friends who helped run the business after her husband experienced health problems. “It’s really been one blessing after another,” she said, noting that she appreciates all the help she has received.
Russell has formed relationships with other local antique dealers. If a customer requests a certain item that she does not have in stock, she will call other stores, sending her business to them, and vice versa.
“We have a really good working relationship,” she said.
Through her experience as store owner of Main Street Market, Russell said she has been able to form friendships with other store owners and with people visiting her store, from locals to tourists—including people from all around the world.
Main Street Market, at 140 N. Main, is open Monday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. You can also follow the store on Facebook under Main Street Market.