New Market Graces Downtown Aberdeen
Ariel Kowalick admits she didn’t know much about Aberdeen as a child growing up in Pinehurst and Southern Pines.
“I was kind of oblivious,” she said.
Kowalick discovered the charm of downtown Aberdeen three years ago when she opened Miron Tile Imports Set In Stone, a specialty tile company, next to her in-laws’ restaurant, La Poblanita Mexican Cafe, on South Street.
Now, three years later, the 27-year-old business owner hopes to help others discover what downtown Aberdeen has to offer as she and her neighbors celebrate the grand opening Saturday of the South Street Market Warehouse next to the Aberdeen Depot downtown.
The event beckons visitors to come spend the day in downtown Aberdeen and to meet the building’s business owners. The event includes live music, free food and fun activities, such as games for children and beer tasting for adults.
While downtown Aberdeen has heard several calls for revitalization over the years, Kowalick says she and her fellow business owners have taken the matter upon themselves to attract more shoppers to the area.
“We want foot traffic,” she said.
Kowalick added that she hopes the event will inspire other businesses to get on board and take action to help bring more folks downtown.
“It doesn’t take one person,” she said. “It takes a lot of people. It’s going to take all of us working together. Nobody has a magic wand.”
Kowalick speaks excitedly about the camaraderie she has with her neighbors.
“I feel like we’re finally getting some energy,” she said.
Brian Evitts and Mike Ratkowski, of Rail House Brewery down the sidewalk, are excited to show the public that the South Street Market Warehouse is open for business.
“It’s always been a building that hasn’t been open to the public,” Evitts said. “[This event] is more to let people know that we’re here.”
Moving Her Business
Kowalick jumped at the chance to move her tile business into the gray warehouse building on the corner of South Street and Sycamore Street downtown.
The space was previously used as a refabrication workshop for Mercedes Benz cars. It offers more room to display the many styles of stone that she imports from all over the world.
Besides viewing hundreds of stone samples, customers will now have their own workstation where they can design custom tile patterns with small tiles in an array of cuts, patterns and colors.
Kowalick wants customers to recognize the beauty of stone when they walk into her showroom.
“I love it when people walk in and they’re like, ‘Wow!’” Kowalick said. “People are just amazed.”
Though Kowalick moved Set In Stone down the street, she isn’t straying too far from her roots.
On Saturday, she is also celebrating the grand opening of Aberdeen Bead Co., Moore County’s first bead studio, in her space next to La Poblanita. The shop gives customers a space to create jewelry that is uniquely theirs in an environment suitable for birthday parties and fundraisers or just a leisurely afternoon activity.
Kowalick said the call to beads wasn’t a stretch with her experience in working with stones.
She sees beads as another means of displaying one’s personality in a way that is unique to the individual.
“That’s such a cool way of expressing yourself,” she said.
Kowalick said she hopes to eventually hold fundraising events to benefit different charities at the shop. One project is currently in the works with Beads of Courage, an arts-in-medicine program for children with serious illnesses.
The fundraiser would give people the opportunity to create a bracelet for children undergoing medical treatments in hospitals.
“One little bead has a lot of effect on different people,” she said.
Kowalick hopes that her shop can be another attribute that will draw new faces to the downtown area.
“It’s mainly for the community,” she said. “I thought of how positive it could be.”
In what she describes as a leap of faith, proprietor Ann Lambeth opened Jann Derby 60/40 Store last November after years of working in other consignment shops.
For Lambeth, the most rewarding part of her job is working with a wide variety of people.
“You meet so many people moving into the area from all over the country,” she said. “You’ve got all kinds of tastes and styles.”
Often, customers are coming in looking to decorate a rental home, furnish a college dorm or stage a home for sale, but she also sees customers come in looking for a fresh start.
While she has enjoyed success by marketing her wares online, Lambeth said she hardly ever has visitors come into her shop just to peek around. Most people coming in the door have heard about her store.
For a while, Lambeth was the only tenant in the building.
“It was like I was abandoned,” she said.
Now that her new neighbors have moved in on either side of her business, Lambeth hopes that she will see more people stopping by to look at her showroom of high end, quality furniture.
She hopes that Saturday’s event will allow people to realize the wide variety of home furnishing resources available in the area.
“I hope to see people coming down here and including us in their daily lives,” Lambeth said. “We’ve got the experts and they know their stuff.”
Ratkowski and Evitts consider themselves more than business partners — they’re beer soul mates.
Evitts has brewed beer at home for the past 15 years with the dream of opening his own mircrobrewery. Ratkowski laughs and says he just loves beer.
Out of the partnership comes the Rail House Brewery, Moore County’s only microbrewery, established next to the railroad tracks in historic downtown Aberdeen.
The name “Rail House” pays homage to the railroad’s impact on the development of Moore County, especially Aberdeen.
“You can’t drive around here and not see the train,” Ratkowski said. “The train is why people are here.”
Though Rail House will not begin making beer for a few weeks, Ratkowski and Evitts said they are excited to answer questions about the brewery and potentially meet other home brew enthusiasts at Saturday’s celebration.
They said they are looking forward to feedback from visitors who sample their different brews of beer, which currently include an India Pale Ale, an American Pale Ale, a Brown Ale and even a Raspberry Wheat Ale.
When the brewery does open, Rail House will begin distributing beer to local restaurants and also be open for tours of the facility a few times a week.
They hope to eventually establish a local home brewer’s club and hold monthly meetings at the brewery to give people with a shared interest of brewing beer a chance to get together, talk about beer and try new brews.
Like their neighbors, Evitts and Ratkowski recognize that their business is a unique contribution to Aberdeen’s growing mix of downtown amenities. They hope that by working with their neighbors, they will be able to help the greater community discover what the area has to offer.
“Aberdeen is kind of going through a transition right now,” Ratkowski said. “I think in the next four to five years, [downtown] will work off of its charm and be a cool place to come.”
Contact Hannah Sharpe by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
More like this story