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 artistBran 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.