Owner Corey Williams makes fresh espresso behind the counter of his shop, Pa Bunk’s Natural Market & Café, located in Murfreesboro, Tenn. (TMP PHOTO/Z. Noblitt)
Local residents have been petitioning for a Whole Foods in Murfreesboro for years, and now the city has a smaller, locally owned version of the organic supermarket.
Pa Bunk’s Health Market & Café opened its doors on the Square back in December, but owner Corey Williams wanted to wait for warmer weather before he celebrated its grand opening. Since then, he’s provided a storefront for up-and-coming businesses and those without brick-and-mortar establishments.
From organic goat cheese and almond butter to natural detergent and dog shampoo, Pa Bunk’s local and regional vendors provide it all.
Birmingham-based T-Lish, which will be named as a Hidden Gem by Paula Deen in her upcoming issue, is available in Rutherford County only at Pa Bunk’s.
Then there are vendors like Murfreesboro’s Sadie Jo Coffer, owner of The Jolly Llama, who says, “a lot of people like to have a physical place to shop and smell the products and hold the products before they buy it.”
Organically grown strawberries, lettuces and chard are provided by Rocky Glade Farms in Eagleville. For the first time in 14 years, the Vaughn family has a storefront for their Eagleville-grown goodies to call home.
Jim and Julie Vaughn have sold their produce at various Farmers’ Markets, including the year-round Stones River Market, which allows customers to pre-order online from various farmers and pick up the goods on a set date. But Pa Bunk’s puts their produce in hands of health-conscious shoppers on a daily basis.
“I think it’s allowed the downtown working (professionals) an opportunity to get our products because some of them maybe can’t get to the (Farmers’) Markets,” Julie Vaughn said.
“Corey supports so many local farms and businesses. That’s another reason we wanted to be a part of it – to serve the Murfreesboro community and be a part of supporting Corey because he’s so passionate about using as much local stuff as he can.”
Vaughn explained how Williams contacted her initially looking for kale, a leafy green known for its extensive health benefits.
“I didn’t have any, but told him we had it planted, and it was on the way,” she said. “It’s so hard for a grower or a farmer to get into a grocery store because of different regulations or specifications that the large, wholesale people have. This is really a great thing for smaller, family farms to have an outlet to sell their products.”
Sales for Rocky Glade Farm have increased exponentially as a result of Pa Bunk’s.
“We have been trying to increase the number of places our product is in and to find another way to serve Murfreesboro; we’ve been trying to grow and Pa Bunk’s is a good outlet for the growth that we had already initiated,” Vaughn continued. “We’re excited about it and hope that it continues to grow as more people know the types of things they can get through Pa Bunk’s. Corey has a lot of good ideas, and we believe in him. He’s great to work with. Whenever he’s ready to jump, we’ll jump with him.”
A number of Pa Bunk’s vendors will be on-hand Saturday to celebrate the market’s grand opening with samples of various products. Festivities will follow the City’s Earth Day activities taking place on Civil Plaza from noon to 2 p.m.
Ma Bella of Almaville, is bringing two baby goats for kids to bottle feed, and the rest will have tables set up along the sidewalk in front of Pa Bunk’s.
“Since the store is so small, it would be hard to do that inside … this will be like a mini Farmers’ Market or street fair,” he said, adding that it presents and opportunity for consumers and vendors to meet face-to-face, or “greet the growers.”
“I want them to be able to say, ‘Hey, I’m the person who makes your sandwich every day or makes your milk you feed your kids. It holds a personal liability for your product,” he said.
While Saturday’s celebration is centered around the market, Williams wants the event to become an annual block party as a kick-off to summer and the season of hustle-and-bustle downtown. To get shoppers in the mood for
JazzFest, which is only two weeks away, Pa Bunk’s will feature a 50s and 60s theme. Everyone is invited to dress up and compete for a best-dressed prize.
Mountains Like Wax and Christina Craig will present live performances, followed by music from Murfreesboro DJ.
Other downtown merchants will be participating in the fun with various giveaways, sales and door prizes.
For information about the event or to learn more about Pa Bunk’s, visit pabunks.com.