Market at Motorco offers unusual wares
Try to name a store where you can find a ten-dollar vintage pullover, homemade cocoa cinnamon truffles, a graphic tee inspired by the equal rights movement and a kitschy Strawberry Shortcake cookie platter all in one place. With more and more conventional department and chain stores on the rise, it’s become difficult to name even one.
DtownMARKET, held every first and third Sunday of the month in downtown Durham, boldly breaks the mold, bringing a refreshing shopping experience to local consumers with eclectic and creative merchandise.
Hedged cozily in the garage of Motorco Music Hall and filled with the aroma of freshly brewed coffee, DtownMARKET features local artists who gather to showcase their assorted works. Ranging from graphic designer Luis Franco’s pop art t-shirts with activist messages to Larisa Harrison and Adam Fox’s vintage and antique collection Scatterbugs, DtownMARKET offers something for everyone.
“The purpose is to provide a place for artists who would normally not have a chance to show their work to have a place to do that,” owner Kala Wolfe said. “It’s just a cozy friendly place.”
Wolfe, a graduate of Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment, had always been interested in conservation and ecology rather than art as a student. During her stay at Durham and experience in the Nicholas School, however, she soon began to discover a relationship between the two.
“I saw that it’s more of a mix of things. You’re not just looking at ecology and biology,” she said. “I just thought about how consumerism has such an impact on the environment. I realized that art can be a way of confronting that.”
Many vendors at DtownMARKET support Wolfe’s environmentalist ethic. Artists take old scarves, jackets and sweaters and repurpose them into items such as tote bags. Scatterbugs owner Harrison sells her collection of vintage items, which are twenty years or older, and antique items, which can be eighty to a hundred years old. She finds most of her items at thrift stores, yard sales and through her family.
“I’ve always wanted to do something related to this, like an antique book store,” Harrison said. “I just had the opportunity to start making a profession out of an obsession, I guess.”
Like Harrison, all the vendors at DtownMARKET aim to be passionate and intentional about what they offer, making each purchase seem more personal. Being at the market feels like being at a friendly neighbor’s low-key garage sale on a lazy Sunday afternoon. There isn’t much hustle and bustle, yet the vibe is still alluring enough to keep passersby moving from store to store, pursuing unique wares and interesting conversation.
“What I like about Durham is that things like this can work and thrive,” Wolfe said. “People in Durham really love Durham, so they support things that happen there. You can do a lot of crazy artistic creative things and people will support it.”
Although the market originally began as Wolfe’s search for a public venue to sell her own vintage clothes, a few phone calls to interested vendors and artists launched a successful weekly artisan market. People of all ages bring their friends, family and even pets and enjoy the music from Motorco, a taco from KoKyu BBQ and a sweet delicacy from The Parlour ice cream truck.
“It’s a great place to be. You don’t see this anywhere else,” customer Maria Sanchez said. “I’d rather come here than any other chain restaurant or store at Southpoint mall.”
DtownMARKET is held every first and third Sunday of the month at Motorco Music Hall from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.