Wharf Alley Market open for business

Jan Van Geyt, Belgium Sweets Company owner, from left, tells Teresa Bettis and Angie Summey about the food he has for sale.

The Wharf Alley Market officially opened for business Thursday in the lot next to the former BB&T bank in downtown Loudon.

Husband and wife team Tim and Rhonda Blue took out the bank stalls attached to the building at 404 Wharf St., to make their vision of a farmers and crafters market a reality.

The duo had previously purchased the property for investment purposes, Tim said.

When Rhonda saw the property, she knew there was potential for something good. Tim had heard there used to be a farmers market in the area that had quit operating. As a crafter himself, he’s excited the market will be operational again.

“We lived in California for 15 years before coming back here, and so it’s kind of a lifestyle we miss,” Rhonda said. “We like to have fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, not always having to get everything at the grocery store and a place for crafters.”

The couple has received 10 applications for vendors.

“I think we’ll have more response once people know we’re here because it’s new, and we’ve only really put it online and just people we’ve talked to here,” Rhonda said. “People driving by haven’t even seen it, but they will today, and I think after that people are like, ‘Oh, they’re starting the farmers market back up, that’ll be great.’ Then I think we’ll have more people. (Thursday) we have scheduled I think three tables and a food truck. It’s still good for a week’s notice on day one.”

The market will be hosted 4-7 p.m. Thursdays through November.

“We just want to have an outlet for the community,” Rhonda said. “That’s the reason we have The Shop, too. We’re opening a game store for any age to come and just hang out and play games in an open space.”

Angie Buchanan, Angie’s Kitchen food truck owner, was at the opening Thursday. She said she’s looking forward to serving Loudon.

“We have a lot of ties to this community,” Buchanan said. “We love Loudon. It’s a great place. We’re looking forward to meeting new people and there’s not really a food truck out there that serves the kind of food that we do, so we’re excited to bring this food out to people in this manner. Excited to see somebody doing something with this property since it’s been kind of vacant for a while and getting some new stuff going in here. I think that’s pretty awesome.”

Jan Van Geyt, Belgium Sweets Company owner, had a table set up with desserts and treats. Van Geyt said he didn’t expect a huge turnout for the first day but knows the market will grow.

“I’m doing a couple farmers markets already so especially the Tellico Village one,” he said. “Normally the Tellico Village market stops in October, but we did it all year. We didn’t stop. We had about four or five vendors that went all year long. This time next week it’s open again, and I’m going try and get some more vendors over here. We already know that two vendors from there that are coming next week that couldn’t make it this week.”