Melissa Bagby-Ramsey is tasked with keeping 5,000-square-feet of store space filled with unique items that pique the interests of her customers.
That’s a lot of space, she admits. But she doesn’t fret over it.
“If you love doing something, it shows,” says Bagby-Ramsey, owner of the Market on Newcastle, in downtown Brunswick. “People love coming in here, and I guess that’s why. And you can find stuff here that you can’t find anywhere else.”
On a warm morning in mid-August, Bagby-Ramsey opened the store at 9 a.m., unlocking the front door and moving tables and chairs outside the storefront, located at 1624 Newcastle Street. Inside, where she would soon begin transitioning to fall decor, she walked through the variety of displays, turning on numerous lamps one by one.
Bagby-Ramsey has owned the store space in downtown Brunswick for 21 years. She stocks Market on Newcastle with a wide variety of items by going annually to market and by forging and maintaining close relationships with vendors.
Her long career in retail has helped Bagby-Ramsey become attuned to what her customers want to buy, and she lets her own taste guide her as she selects items from vendors.
“The key to it is if I buy what I like and I know what people like, it should all work out,” she says. “It seems to have done that for 21 years.”
Bagby-Ramsey stocks her store with furniture, books, decorations, gift items, and much more.
She expects she has one of the best book selections of any non-bookstore in the area.
“I particularly like books, and so I have a lot of books,” she says.
Bagby-Ramsey goes to AmericasMart to shop for store items. Twice a year, she travels to Atlanta with her friend, Judy Shadron, who owns Tabby House on St. Simons, and the pair spend a week exploring the market and talking with vendors.
“We’ve been going to market together for years, and you see the newest stuff,” Bagby-Ramsey says. “And if you’re really good with the vendors, they’ll let you in on what’s coming out that isn’t there yet. So I can be the first to have it.”
Developing those strong relationships is the key to finding the best items to later sell at Market on Newcastle.
“I have good relationships with my vendors, and they will call me and say, ‘I’ve got something I think you’re going to love,’” she says. “… That means that I don’t have to rely on just going to the market, because market is huge and I’m just one person so you might tend to not see everything.”
Bagby-Ramsey also relies on Shadron who keeps an eye out for items that she’ll like. She does the same for Shadron, whose store is located at 1550 Frederica Road.
“She packs (Tabby House) full of fabulous stuff,” Bagby-Ramsey says. “It’s neat to have a second set of eyes. She knows what I like, I know what she likes.”
Market on Newcastle is among the few mainstays in downtown Brunswick that have stood through more than two decades of change in the city.
“The store has been the store for 21 years, and I never had much trouble with getting people to come here because I have things that nobody else has,” Bagby-Ramsey says. “And they’re displayed in ways that nobody else does.”
A recent addition to the store, though, is located in the back portion of Market on Newcastle. Black Sheep Pickers, owned by Shane Woodard, buys and sells vintage, antique, and unique items including collectibles, furniture, and more.
“He’s got such a great eye,” Bagby-Ramsey says. “He spots stuff that nobody else sees or appreciates. It’s always fun to see what he comes up with.”
Bagby-Ramsey feels confident that customers who visit both her store and Blacksheep Pickers will be able to buy items they won’t find anywhere else.
“It takes a lot of stuff to fill up 5,000-square-feet, but I manage to do it without any trouble,” she says.