By Nicole Zema/The Natchez Democrat
NATCHEZ – Sue Davis didn’t realize how many people came to Natchez for the shopping until she opened The Riverwalk Market 10 months ago.
Davis said tourists and locals alike want to find one-of-a-kind items, and thanks to the inventory from more than 25 vendors, shoppers usually leave with something they wanted, and sometimes something they didn’t know they wanted.
“Really and truly people come to Natchez for the shopping,” said Davis, a resident of Brookhaven. “At first I had just a few visitors, but now with the variety, I have repeat customers coming in to shop.”
Davis describes The Riverwalk Market as “a flea market without the outdoor elements.” Vendors rent spaces, or booths, in the store and choose how to display their items. It’s Davis’ job to keep track of the constantly changing inventory.
Davis said it is the assorted variety of items for sale that makes The Riverwalk Market special. Vendors like the store because they don’t have to give up commission on items sold. They just pay a monthly rental fee for the space.
“The vendors really set me apart,” Davis said. “I have such a collection of others’ inventory that you get a different personality in each part of the store.
“The vendors don’t have to stay here,” Davis said. “They come and go as they please. Most of the vendors have a knack for decorating or selecting neat things to bring like unusual dishes, furniture, mirrors and lights. Some vendors even have a Facebook page for their booth.”
Davis moves a lot of antique furniture, collectibles, souvenirs, art, crystal, china and light fixtures, but there are also new and handmade items for sale, like Hometown Girl T-shirts, Sew Sweet monogramming and Pretty Petals hair bows.
Davis said bows, monogramming and appliqui can be special-ordered at The Riverwalk Market.
While the store is a maze of vintage treasures and contemporary gifts, Davis said she has room to grow, and would like to sell birdhouses, woodwork, pottery, yard art and more antique collections. However, she will not accept clothing.
Davis’s daughter, Cassie Vanderslice, owns and manages Southern Treasures, a similar store in Brookhaven.
“That’s how I got started in this business,” Davis said. “I was helping out at Cassie’s store, and it was so much fun. She had 60 vendors, so we decided to expand to Natchez. I like this business because it’s fun meeting people and selling what they have collected.”
Riverwalk vendor Gigi Johnson said she sells a little bit of everything in Davis’ store, like refurbished furniture, odds and ends, crafts and things that have been accumulating in her house.
Johnson said The Riverwalk Market had not been open long when she found herself interested in renting booth space.
“I had some visitors in from out of town,” Johnson said. “We went walking downtown and I saw she was selling space. This was the first time I’d ever done this. What’s great about her store — you just rent the space. Other places take a commission off what they sell.”
Johnson said last month was the best yet for sales from her booth. But to her it’s about more than just the money.
“I’ll tell you what’s nice, so many of the vendors have become good friends down there. Sue makes it fun, she’s very pleasant, and she really takes care of her vendors.”
The Riverwalk Market is open Tuesday through Saturday.