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FLORENCE, S.C. — Boxcar Market Mercantile and Grocer in downtown Florence is redefining the meaning of "convenience store."
Paying homage to Florence’s railroad history, Boxcar Market opened in late February at 163 W. Evans St. Co-owners Lynette Miller and Rick Osward describe Boxcar Market as combining three things in one: a convenience store, a neighborhood market and a vendor for local artisans, reported SCNow.com.
Although the store carries necessities such as bread, milk and laundry detergent, it also offers customers a variety of products made by local artisans and manufacturers like jewelry, soaps, handmade birdhouses and more.
According to Osward, the idea for opening Boxcar Market came about because there weren't any c-stores located downtown.
“There’s not a single place down here, not even a vending machine downtown,” he said. “It all came out of an identified need for a store of some kind. I thought, ‘That would be a need that would probably work.’”
As Osward and Miller began construction on Boxcar Market, downtown Florence was also going through a period of growth, adding apartment buildings and other residential structures. The co-owner said he wanted Boxcar Market to develop along with the town, and allow the market to serve as a welcoming structure for incoming residents.
“We timed it so that we could be a neighborhood market to the new residents,” Osward articulated. “You can live down here, you can walk to a shop and pick up bread, eggs and milk without having to drive to [supermarket chain] Bi-Lo.”
In addition to promoting downtown, Boxcar Market helps promote local manufacturers and artists who are looking to sell their products in a smaller market setting, the news outlet reported. A dedicated section of Boxcar Market features local products such as handmade soaps and jewelry, homemade jams, soups and sauces. Local artists also have their works on display and on sale in the store.
Although Boxcar Market is open for business, it is still unfinished, Osward noted, adding that he and Miller hope to install a cold kitchen to sell fresh salads and sandwiches. The co-owners also plan to add a seating area in the upstairs section for local employees to have a place to spend their lunch break and enjoy a meal.
Looking toward the future, Osward said he is both excited and hopeful that Boxcar Market and downtown Florence as a whole will continue to thrive.
“We were motivated by the new residents coming in, that [downtown] was becoming a livable pedestrian space,” he commented. “The renaissance going on downtown is just exciting. It’ll just get better from here.”