Friday, June 11, 2010


On Monday I was walking to Market Square on Union and pretty little objects in a storefront window caught my eye. I realized I was standing in front of Rala, the new shop that has just opened to the right of Coffee and Chocolate, on the outskirts of Market Square.

I had been intrigued by this place because I heard Knoxville artist Bran Rogers put up work there for First Friday and, by Saturday morning, had sold half. If you do not know, this kind of occurence could be considered a Knoxville miracle.

Nanci Solomon, who owns Reruns on the Southeast corner of Market Square, is also the owner of Rala. From what I understand, she realized she could do the same kind of business she's doing at Reruns but with art. An art consignment store.

It's a precious store, clean and bright, with prints, cards, pillows, ceramics, candles, soaps, all things hand-made by local and regional artists (as well as a few from a little further away).

The presence of Rala is exciting in so many ways:

1. It helps support and promote local and regional artists.

2. The artwork and objects sold there are by working artists, but placed in a business and sold as retail, because, despite what you may have been told, artists too need to make money. It is not in a restaurant or a gift shop where it will be overlooked or lost, and it's not in a gallery where people in Knoxville seem to be deterred from purchasing artwork.

3. It sort of reminds me of a tangible, real-life Etsy (an internet phenomenon for all things hand-made) that is conveniently located near Market Square.

4. The items will be changed out every two months, assuring something new and different frequently.

5. Where many craft and artisan shops market to an older, richer clientele, the items found in Rala seem geared more toward a younger generation, something I really appreciate.

Rala is a great example of a business that takes the creative person seriously and values their importance. I hope to see more businesses pop up like this in the future, so Knoxville may better retain artistically and creatively talented people.

323 Union Avenue
near Market Square


cage said...


Anonymous said...

I was really pleased to stumble across this last weekend, too. I was in downtown Asheville two or three months back, and it was the presence of shops like this that struck me as one of the big differences between downtown Knoxville and downtown Asheville. Knoxville has no short supply of cool downtown eateries. But we could really use another dozen or so unique downtown shops like this to go with them.

Chyna said...

I was just saying a couple of weeks ago that Knoxville needed a place like this - I've seen shops that follow this model in a number of other cities and they are almost always my favorite places to browse/shop. I went into Rala a couple of days ago and was really impressed by the selection and the very reasonable prices. I ended up buying a fabulous birthday gift for my stepmother. I hope that Knoxville embraces it and that it is very successful!

Anonymous said...

This place sounds great. Thanks for the heads up, I'll have to check it out this weekend.

The Modern Gal said...

What a fabulous idea. I noticed it the other day, but it was before business hours and am dying to peruse it.

Temple House said...

It's a delightful shop. I'm selling there now too! It's just too great a lil' spot to pass up. Plus Nanci is a real Market Square founder. She's been on MS for 25 years. Why isn't she in the Metro Pulse for her guts to even try it, let alone do so well for so long?