By: Maddie Mason,Jamie Gilbert-Fitzpatrick, and Eddie Bates
Every Saturday in downtown Columbia begins with the cheerful vibe from the Soda City Market; locals and vendors come out every Saturday to enjoy the market and sell their product.
“When Soda City started it was just one block in the spring and summer then it expanded to two blocks. The people have been really receptive to Soda City,” vendor Ginny Scoggins said. “As the market has grown, our business has grown. It also gives people the opportunity to sample and taste our product which has helped the business grow even more.”
Although Columbia is not full of attractions, Soda City is on Main Street which is one of the main attractions in the city, helping with the revitalization of the street and surrounding.
“I think by having it downtown it helps bring people into town and it really has helped revive downtown a little bit,” Scoggins said. “Just having [student housing] here with all the college students, it’s just great.”
Even students from outside of the city limits go every week to Soda City to see what the local vendors have to offer.
“I like that [Soda City] is local. It is not ‘cheap’ but it is not too expensive,” senior Zoey Johnson said. “They sell food, which I like, and they sell hand crafts and homemade stuff.”
Many business owners begin their business by selling their product at Soda City to gauge how the customers enjoy the product that they are selling.
“Two years ago we started with just a stand and we were going to see if our juices would sell and they did, so we’ve been here for most weeks. We’re friends with the coffee people so they encouraged us [to sell our product],” vendor Virginia Arrington said.
Arrington says that Soda City helps to bring the community together because of the homey feel that the once miniscule street market has acquired.
“It’s great [and] it’s only here,” Arrington said. “It’s just something fun that we do, we really are passionate about offering something healthy to people.”
Vendors develop bonds with the people in the community and their fellow vendors. Era Pope thinks that it is a great place to get connected with the products that people buy, because ‘people just don’t get to see how things are made’.
“We formed a lot of relationships and friendships with people that also vend here because we see them every week. So we kind of have a little community going on there.” Pope said. “I think Soda City has an atmosphere that is just fun and everybody that comes here whether they’re vendor or customer.”