2nd Street Market: A 15-year-old Dayton Tradition

by Gabe Chester

The 2nd Street Market, located in downtown Dayton, features over 40 different vendors offering an array of fresh produce, bread, artisanal goods and cuisine from around the world. The market is celebrating its 15th year of business as the oldest public market in Dayton. It is open for business year-round on Thursdays and Fridays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The 2nd Street Market presents a revitalizing commercial hub where shoppers can always expect something fresh and original. From hand-woven scarves to massage therapy, the 2nd Street Market operates as a European style marketplace packed with fresh and original goods for all ages.

The market is a hub of artistic passion where vendors offer a wide array of goods. A major focal point is the food from around the world. There is a delightful mixture of aromas along the center aisle of the oblong freight house that houses the market. Vendors offer New Zealand cuisine, Thai cuisine, Mexican food and Hungarian cabbage rolls, to name a few.

This stretch offers an excellent selection of lunch options for hungry visitors seeking regional tastes. There are also food products from closer to home — visitors will see vendors selling fresh Ohio maple syrup, vegetables, prepackaged pies, homegrown popcorn and baked goods.

Many vendors see the market as their long-term storefront and main source of income. One such vendor is Hedy Riegle, who offers vintage-industrial handmade jewelry and home accessories. She established Hedy Riegle Studio in 2009, where customers can customize necklaces or buy them premade along with an assortment of bracelets, key rings and medallions.

“I’ve always been making things and selling them since I can remember,” said Riegle. “When you’re doing what you love, you just flourish.”

Riegle said the market sees about 5,000 people a week and is extremely busy on holidays. The market attracts roughly 370,000 people every year according to the Dayton Business Journal.

“It’s nice to see downtown Dayton getting revitalized,” Riegle remarked. “It’s become a destination place, almost.”

The market is also home to vendors who view it as a form of supplemental income.

John Maxwell, owner of Harry’s Ole’d Country Orchard and Produce, sits under the awning of a white produce tent on the north end of the freight house just about every Saturday from June to October, when the 2nd Street Market offers outdoor space to vendors selling fresh produce. Maxwell has owned his orchard for 27 years, retiring just eight years ago, which brought him to the 2nd Street Market four years ago to continue selling honey, garlic, peppers and tomatoes.

Several of the market vendors have been making their crafts for years. Jon Graham is the well-traveled owner of Jon Graham Pottery who trained in his craft under the guidance of famous artisans from around the globe. Having thrown pots for almost 60 years, Graham works tirelessly at his small potter’s wheel inside the market, educating visitors on the craft as well as engaging them in friendly conversation.

Graham used to do shows across the world, including spending 12 1/2 years in Germany.  He retired 17 years ago. Now he and his wife, who specializes in decorative pieces, sell pottery at the 2nd Street Market.

“This is his passion,” said Pat Silver, an associate of Graham’s who aids him at the market. “He took classes, and had a mentor in Wisconsin who taught him some old ways to do pottery.”

Silver remarked on Graham’s various apprenticeships and experiences that impacted his artwork greatly. She also mentioned how Graham’s passion for pottery can be seen in not only his work, but also in his eagerness to show others how to throw pottery and talk with them about the process. Graham came to the market in 2003 and has stayed ever since.

The market possesses a unique variety of artisanal and natural goods beyond traditional handicrafts and food products. One mother and daughter duo, Paula Willis and Alleah Cooks, started going to the market when it first opened and were longtime customers. Their love for the market then led them to start a business of their own selling terrariums — vessels that artistically display plants — wall art, and houseplants.

Inside the shop are various pre-made terrariums along with a create-your-own section, where customers can build terrariums according to their preferences using various provided materials. As many vendors do, they also sell their artwork online through artistic selling services like Etsy.

Visitors to the market can find free parking on the southeast end of the renovated freight house. The freight house used to be an old Baltimore and Ohio Railroad warehouse, which was built in 1911. Today the building brightens the landscape through an assortment of murals that cover its southern perimeter.

The market also offers several events and programs throughout the year. One such event is a Backcountry Cooking course on Dec. 6. Saturdays at the market feature live music from a range of local artists between the hours of 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The market does not open on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.

Five Rivers MetroParks, the organization that runs the market, provides visitors with a comprehensive overview on its website at www.metroparks.org.

Gabe Chester is a junior global business and marketing major and off-campus reporter for Cedars. He loves music, sports, school and God.

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