A historical building on the north side of Lexington recently received a face lift, becoming a neighborhood treasure. Greyline Station left its transportation routes in the past transforming into a marketplace of culture, health and creativity from local vendors.
Built as a bus maintenance faculty for Southeastern Greyhound buses in 1928, the building has welcomed many faces over its almost 100-year history. The site was once the largest employer in Lexington. In 1972, the building became a transport hub for Lextran but in recent years has sat empty.
With word of bulldozers closing in, the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2014 to prevent its demolition. Renovations began in 2018 to transform the 65,000 square foot building from bus hub to a multi-use facility complete with shops, restaurants, office space, an event center and a radio station.
Unlike malls or shopping centers, this market was designed to serve the people of the neighborhood and give locals a supported location to start and grow their businesses.
Julietta Market, located in Greyline Station, has created a space for new entrepreneurs to try their hand as a business owner with a strong support system. The year-round multi-vendor market is operated by The North Limestone Community Development Corporation (NOLI CDC), a non-profit organization that focuses on connecting members of the North Limestone neighborhood to resources and opportunities.
“We are really trying to make it something that features and lifts up groups of folks who historically have not had the same opportunity to flourish,” said Kris Nunn, Executive Director of NOLI CDC. “It is an uneven playing field out there. We are not going to change the system but try to create something where we can help level it a bit.”
Julietta Market understands the struggles that come with being a new business owner and works to take some of the weight off their vendors in any way they can. They offer their vendors cheaper leases, smaller spaces to manage, parking spaces, public restrooms, branding and support to help them succeed in creating a long-lasting business.
“They don’t have to worry about making sure the lights are on and heat is on,” said Nunn. “We maintain our own Social Media and advertising, so they don’t have to try to draw 100% of their customers to them.”
Julietta Market is meant to function as a stepping stone for new entrepreneurs to learn the skills of running a successful business and graduate out of the market to a commercial lease. They offer weekly meetings with a small business mentor to ensure their vendors receive all the tools they need.
“I think that the people who came in initially were sort of skeptical of what this thing was going to be and now that people can see it there are like ‘Oh, I could do that. That could be a great way for me to get out of this dead-end job that I’m in and do something that I really love to do and see if I could make a living out of it,’” Nunn said.
Julietta Market hopes when the pandemic comes to an end and the weather warms, they can host more events focused on culture and the people of the community. They plan to feature cultural performances, poetry reading, comedy shows and student performances.
Poppy & Pomelo is a home and lifestyle boutique centered around art and travel located in Greyline Station. The shop features over 100 artists from around the world whose wide range of products include clothes, hand bags, baby gifts, self-care products and much more.
“I wanted to start my own business for the longest time,” said Cami Risk, owner of Poppy & Pomelo. “I felt like the business for that entire building (Greyline Station) and what it was going to bring to Lexington was something I wanted to be a part of. That, for me, solidified that I was going to open a shop.”
With a background in travel and a love for giving gifts, Risk created a shop inspired by her passion for culture and even features artists in her shop that she met during her travels. You can find beautiful jewelry made from the bones of cows in Haiti, hand-crafted by a woman based in San Juan.
“I love more of the personal aspect and connection versus just doing what is just in mass production, so I try to keep my focus there,” Risk said. Poppy & Pomelo also features larger brands such as Truff Hot Sauce to give customers a wide selection of products. Poppy & Pomelo products can be found online or in the store and are available for in person shopping, curbside pickup and local delivery.
In the future, Risk hopes to give back to the community that supports her business. She is working to add a social good element that gives back to nonprofits in Lexington. She is also focusing on young artists and plans to display their work and teach them about the business that comes along with creating art.
Greyline Station does not limit their focus to retail customers, but offers a wide range of experiences to attract the attention of all neighbors. Old North Bar can be found near the front of the market for guests to enjoy a local cocktail.
“I think everybody, when they are growing up, kind of has this idea of owning a bar that it would be cool. I spent about 20 years or so working in the corporate world and just really wanting to do something on my own,” said Wes Hogan, owner of Old North Bar.
For Hogan and other owners , the new project presented a unique opportunity to try their hand as a business owner and build something special for the community they love.
“It’s something that I believe in, that I believe Lexington needs and I think that once we get past COVID and once we get past kind of all this it’s going to be a thriving community of local and small businesses here in Lexington,” said Hogan.
Old North Bar goes beyond the average bar service and offers its customers a wider range of experiences with Trivia Nights, Yoga, and live music on Friday nights.
“On Sunday we do Yoga, Brunch & Bubbles. Our participants get a one-hour yoga class, bottomless mimosas from Old North for a little bit and then a brunch box from Wilson’s Grocery who’s located in Old North Bar,” said Hogan.
Hogan hopes to add more events that interest his customers based on their feedback and hopes to partner with more businesses in Greyline Station to add to the community experience.
Nourished Folks is a small restaurant located in Greyline Station focused on serving its customers with healthy meals made from fresh ingredients. Everything at this locally owned restaurant is made from scratch in the small kitchen where you can find owner Riah Durick cooking with her younger daughter by her side.
“My food and my spot is basically southern comfort food with an international twist," said Durick. “Things that people are like ‘Oh, I don’t know. I don’t really eat that.’ I love to make it taste so comforting in a way that it blows their mind open to new possibilities of food.”
Durick’s passion for food and family are what inspired Nourished Folk, giving her a way to combine her love of travel and flavors with her strong family values. Both of her parents made food and a lively kitchen was an important part of her upbringing. She still cooks with her mom, who says Durick is a better cook though she believes they simply just cook differently.
“One thing in the whole wide world that people can connect on is being in the kitchen and eating around the table together,” said Durick. “Even when you have people over, somehow everyone just ends up in the kitchen.”
Nourished Folks plans to host small dinner parties in the near future offering fresh comfort food. She hopes these dinner parties celebrate small and large moments in a place that feel inviting, like home. Other plans include guest bartender nights to highlight local mixologists.
With local owners and a focus on building connections across small businesses, the vendors at Greyline have turned what was once a transportation hub into an innovation hub. Most hope that the end of the pandemic will boost profits, but in the meantime they have passion to sustain them. If so, the future of Greyline Station looks to be as rich and long as its history.