Rockdale locals create a new organic produce store

CONYERS - The three owners of The Market, a new organic produce store on Ga. Highway 138, want their store to feel just like home, and to all three of them, it actually is.

Curtis Aikens, Bill Hope and Buck Vaughn were playing golf one day when the three Rockdale natives decided to create their own local produce store.

Aikens, 50, and Hope, 48, met at J.P. Carr Middle School in Conyers when they worked together at the old A&P Market. They met Vaughn, 28, a Heritage High School graduate, a few years ago through a family friend.

"We've got old Rockdale, new Rockdale and the future Rockdale in this store," Aikens said.

Aikens, a graduate of Rockdale County High School and a featured chef on the Food Network, decided to combine his expertise and passion for food with Hope's knowledge of local produce to create a new store in the community. Vaughn soon joined the group to help connect with the younger community, and The Market was born. Roland Vaughn, Buck Vaughn's father, and his brother, Alvin Vaughn, provided the necessary funds to get the business started.

"It's time for it in Conyers," Aikens said. "It's time for something that can take care of the consumers."

The team's goal is to provide fresh fruits and vegetables to local residents daily and be responsive to the needs of the community. According to Aikens, one of the owners will be present in the store at all times to meet with and assist shoppers.

"I get tingles because I'm so excited about this," Aikens said.

Aikens said he believes that the location for their store couldn't have been better.

"When we were kids this was the big road," Aikens said, referring to Ga. 138. "The only thing around here was this building."

Edwina Schick, a Rockdale resident, said she's extremely happy a small community store like The Market has opened in town.

"When you have something like this, they go in and make sure it's the best because they don't have the volume to cover their mistakes," said Schick, who was browsing the produce Thursday afternoon.

Aikens said he hopes to include recipes with the produce and host cooking demonstrations at the store. In three years, the owners also hope to have their own organic garden nearby. So far, about 500 people have subscribed to The Market's online newsletter.

"We think we got something special," Aikens said. "We do. We really do."

The store officially opened for business Friday and the grand opening will be scheduled in the upcoming months. For more information visit www.marketconyers.com or visit the store at 1180 Ga. Highway 138 S.E.

Brittany Binowski can be reached at news.intern@rockdalecitizen.com.