Union County Vendor Mall Celebrates One Year with Anniversary Extravaganza
by Susan Webb
On a recent sunny Saturday in May, the smell of barbecue wafted through the air outside Maynardville's Union County Vendor Mall. The sounds of gospel music filled the inside, and owner Joanie Brock was filled with pride upon celebrating the one-year anniversary of her growing retail business.
Billed an "Anniversary Extravaganza," the May 13 celebration started with a photo event organized by the Union County Chamber of Commerce. Afterward, the doors opened and more then 100 visitors perused vendor booths filled with antiques, collectibles, fine art, jewelry, floral designs and many other hand-crafted items. And business was good! At one point, two cashiers were busily ringing up sales from two lines of customers that had formed at the front of the store.
While the customers shopped, they were treated to the gospel sounds of Tamelia and Emmaline Jenkins, Bobby Mink, The Dyer Sisters and The Hilltop Boys. Snacks and light lunches were provided by Gip's Mill Country Store and Deli, a thriving new business venture near Big Ridge State Park.
The past year has proven to be a learning experience, says Brock, a former medical sales professional who felt called to open a vendor mall after her job relocated to Nashville. She reflects on her journey, and muses, "nothing happens overnight." But nevertheless, in just a year's time her growing business has more than doubled in size. "We opened the vendor mall with six vendors in May of 2016; we now have 13 vendors with room for many more." The 17,000 sq. ft. facility is managed by J.T. Russell.
In addition to being a small business owner, Brock is also a busy mom who strives to maintain a healthy work/life balance. "I have two boys in their teen years," she says, referring to her sons, ages 14 and 17. Acknowledging that parenting teens can be stressful, she adds, "this is the time in their lives when they need attentive parents to help them grow into men that will lead productive, Christian lives."
The challenges of owning her own business and parenting teens aside, she does manage to have a little fun. "I get to color at work!" she laughs, referring to the furniture she paints and displays in her own booth at the vendor mall. "Using my creativity is the most fun!" On a more serious note she adds, "But being able to do a work that God called me to do is the most rewarding part of owning my own business."
Union County Vendor Mall is open Tues.-Fri., 10:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., and Sat., 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Phone: (865) 745-1561. Each vendor has an individual website as well as a listing in the main vendor mall website and catalog, www.vendormall.us. Visit Facebook at Union County Vendor Mall.