IN a world of Walmart and other conglomerate grocery stores that hype low prices instead of quality products, it's rare to find a community marketplace that's affordable, locally-sourced and knowledgeable about the product.
Luckily for us, Savannah's had such a place for years, and its new location makes it even more accessible to the masses.
The beloved Smith Brothers Butcher Shop reopened in its new location at 535 E. Liberty Street on May 28. Local vendors gave free samples, wine tastings, and demonstrations to a huge crowd that left no space for elbow room.
The shop, opened by Harry and Leon Smith, has been a community staple since 1924.
"I guess you could say we're one of Savannah's longest-running traditions," says sales associate Karen Richardson, who's been with the shop since its move to Liberty.
Smith Bros. has been in City Market, on Bull Street, and at Habersham Antique Market, which, Karen points out, is worth checking out.
"It still has all the original meat racks and everything," she says, "so it's very cool to visit."
The new location manages to blend an old-time marketplace vibe with a feeling of freshness in a roomy, modern space. The baskets of fresh produce at the front of the store hearken back to the days when farmers brought their produce straight to market.
Plus, the gingham-patterned burlap aprons and tablecloths are just plain darling.
A perk of the new location is their cookbook library. Shoppers can browse through as many cookbooks as their hearts desire to find the perfect meal, then go find the ingredients in the store. In true library fashion, the books can be checked out and brought back.
To be frank, a downtown marketplace doesn't exactly seem plausible at first thought; images of hefting a full bag of groceries while speed-walking through the squares comes to mind.
But you don't have to live down Liberty to pull off a successful Smith Bros. haul. The new store comes with a parking lot right next door, a unique amenity for downtown businesses and a must-have for any grocery store.
"It's very convenient that we have our own parking on the side," Karen says. "It makes it much more enticing, much easier to stop by. I think that's the biggest drag of having to go downtown, is having to worry about where to park."
The new location also seems to be ideal for bringing a new crowd. Some citizens, particularly the younger set, seem not to know about Smith Bros. and proclaim that Savannah desperately needed a place like this. Hopefully the move will generate a buzz that will revitalize business.
Within the shop, you'll find plenty of local and nearby products — coffee from Savannah Coffee Roasters, Byrd cookies, Callie's Hot Little Biscuit mixes, Verdant Kitchen produce, and Savannah Bee Company honey, among many others.
"We definitely try to pull in as much local product as we can and push that," says Karen. "We try to support the community."
Smith Bros. supports the community and looks out for them as well. The prices are reasonable, not outrageous, and the product is always on point quality-wise, making the shopping easier.
"Our goal is just to put out the best quality for the best price," says Karen.