As the sun sets over the Cumberland River, folks from near and far are washed in the neon lights of Broadway’s finest bars and captivated by music trickling from inside these crowded joints. Bachelorettes pedal their way down the street clad in matching T-shirts, and sports fans don colors of their hometown teams. Walking the streets of downtown Nashville at night is a spectacle — one that we can’t help but love.
With this imagery of Music City comes the assumption that downtown is solely a destination for out-of-towners to get their honky-tonk fix, while the rest of Middle Tennessee is for discovering local flavor. While 12South, East Nashville, Marathon Village and other thriving neighborhoods have formed as hubs for local makers to showcase their talents, downtown is just as rich in everything local. Before the bars fill to the brim, tourists and Nashvillians head downtown for food, fashion and shopping of the local variety. Everyone is eager to get their hands on something Nashville-made, and stores are eager to introduce passersby to what is really authentically Nashville — even in the heart of honky-tonk central.
The Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp (CVC) isn’t new to the game of “all things Nashville,” but their recently renovated visitor center is one of the newest places to shop local. And, it’s located in the heart of downtown. Situated inside the Fourth Avenue Visitor Center, the newly renovated and aptly named Music City Marketplace is entering the ring of shops with local swag.
“We have been asked about where to find good Nashville gifts for years,” says Deana Ivey, chief marketing officer of Nashville’s CVC. “Now we have a place where we can bring it all together and give a taste of the products local companies offer.” Trust us, the taste is sweet. With products from more than 35 local makers, the store is a reflection of Music City’s character.
“The Music City Marketplace is an extension of Music City’s creative brand,” shares Alyssa Kontos, retail manager for the CVC. “We have locally made guitar straps and guitar string jewelry, but beyond music, the brand extends into food, fashion and art.” The marketplace offers a unique selection of items from local makers. “With the Music City Marketplace, we are starting fresh,” Alyssa says, showing us around the new shop. “Here, we have more high-end gifts and high-quality, locally inspired apparel, shirts and hats.”
With one loop around the store, you are sure to find something to gift your Dad for Father’s Day, your cousin for graduation, your Mom for her birthday, and yourself, because you just can’t resist.
Tucked in the corner between a shiplap wall and a wooden wall with custom shelving, sit dozens of items from well-known Nashville brands, including Ceri Hoover, Consider the Wldflwrs, DCXV, East Nashville Spice Co., Eli Mason, Hester & Cook, M. Florita Jewelry, Nashville Jam Co., Nisolo, Olive & Sinclair, Seraphine Design, Soberdough, Sunday Morning Pancake Mix, Paddywax, PourTaste, TruBee Honey, Walker Creek Confections and Walker Feed Co., plus a few brands that might be new to you: Bear it No More, Colonel Littleton, Dickson Davis Supply Co., Forage South, Handmade Studio TN, Hip Hues, Home Sweet Home Co., Hummingbird Factory, J Hoss Designs, Kittlemade, Native Wood Co., Needle & Grain, New York to Nashville, Oak + Ink, Original Fuzz, SignNiche and Yellow Daisy Design.
From candles and soaps to leather goods and handmade jewelry, the inventory covers a wide spectrum and range of prices. “The store is geared toward local makers; we just want to showcase as much local merch as we can,” Deana says. Add this to your list of “Where to Find Nashville Souvenirs That Aren’t Lame.”
Each item in the Music City Marketplace is thoughtfully curated by Alyssa, who has an eye for what’s good. Her focus is the customers, and her desire is to build a connection between these customers (local and tourists alike) and local brands. Other than selecting the hottest items around town, she has an apparent knack for curating collections of products. From corporate gifts to housewarming boxes, Alyssa can put together something special that shows off Nashville and its makers. Let her be your go-to gal for personalized services.
The Music City Marketplace is a bit off the beaten path for your run-of-the-mill downtown shop. Housed in a multifunctional space that simultaneously acts the Visitor Center, the marketplace doesn’t immediately catch your eye from the street. When planning your visit, park in one of the many garages in the area and head to the corner of Fourth Avenue North and Commerce, where you will find the shop. The Visitor Center and marketplace also share hours: Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
We suggest you swing by for the store’s grand opening and open house on June 2 and 3, with extended hours from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Local vendors will be in-store offering samples and sharing the story of their brand and the inventory will be stocked! [SB TIP: If you looking for parking, visit ParkItDowntown.com to help you find the closest spot!]
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