A one-of-a-kind place

Published 5:35 pm Friday, July 12, 2019

Folks line up, waiting to pay for their handfuls of fresh flowers and the bag of homegrown tomatoes. Others sample treats laid out on counters. Still others pick up a loaf or two of cranberry orange bread, zucchini or banana bread.

Floating above the chatting voices is live music — a guy with a guitar playing popular classics. A crowd of people flow in and around booths set up throughout the sprawling space, stopping to eye handmade, homemade and homegrown goods at each.

This is Saturday, and this is Washington, specifically, the Washington Harbor District Market on West Main Street.

Some might say it’s a new Washington, where out-of-towners and locals alike flock to a vibrant downtown, attracted by the many options for commerce, dining and arts. Others, however, might say it’s actually the old Washington come back to life, before a greater accessibility to transportation meant shopping trips to the mall, or even the malls in Greenville.

Two decades ago, West Main Street didn’t see too much action on a weekend. Today, a drive down Main Street on a Saturday afternoon will show you shoppers, browsers and restaurants doing brisk business. Continue around Stewart Parkway, and you’ll see people strolling, soaking up the river breeze on a bench or swing, picnics, fishermen, boaters and children playing in park.

After decades of decay, downtown Washington has revived itself through the hard work of small business owners, a few who paved the way for the revival by never leaving in the first place; many others who’ve invested money and themselves to build a place like none other. Each and every shop, gallery, restaurant is one-of-a-kind. Each and every vendor at the Washington Harbor District Market is one-of-a-kind as well, selling goods you can likely get nowhere else.

It is this uniqueness that will draw people in — for a day, for a weekend, for a lifetime — and will continue to support those who already have made their lives here. This fledgling new/old Washington is worth a visit, no matter how close or far away you are.