Live and work on Market Square
Andie Ray is rightly famous for wearing many hats. But as an entrepreneur, preservationist, and downtown advocate, the chapeau-clad proprietor of Vagabondia on Market Square is a trendsetter well beyond women’s wear.
Ten years ago, she bought the building that’s both her shop and where she currently hangs all those hats. It was a bold move at the time, no doubt prompting some to wonder whether she’d been out in the sun too long without her sartorial signature. The majority of the Square’s storefronts were empty. Its upper floors were even more so. And the farmer’s market—populated by a few elderly farmers and fewer regular customers—seemed as much a relic of the past as the street preachers on the corner.
In fact, Market Square seemed so moribund that the city seriously contemplated turning the whole thing over to a couple of slick-talking developers in expensive suits. Big changes were in store, they promised: some themed restaurants for the tourists, a little eminent domain for the locals, and maybe a glass dome to go over the whole thing. There were fancy renderings, PowerPoint presentations, cheerleading by the Chamber—the whole public relations/redevelopment steamroller appeared poised to roll over anything in its way, including a woman with a hat and a head full of dreams about living over a dress shop.
A decade later, hers is only one of many successful locally owned shops and restaurants surrounding the Square. And she’s among dozens of Market Square residents. First-run movies have returned to Gay Street. And there’s not just one but two regular live radio shows, too.
So what happens when your dream becomes a reality? For the woman who found her shop’s name in the title of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s first novel, she’s moving on with a new dream that mimics the author’s most famous work, transforming a neglected and overgrown patch of ground in North Knoxville into a garden—and a home.
So, if you’ve also dreamed of living over a shop on Market Square, this could be your chance. The shop—or office—could be your own, or it could come with a paying tenant already in place. Either way, you’ll reap the benefits of owning a recently renovated 2,000-square-foot ground-floor commercial space on the Square. Upstairs is a 2,000-square-foot residential loft with hardwood floors, French doors, and arched windows overlooking the Square. There’s also a private parking space right out the back door and even walk-up access to the roof so you, too, can someday have your own secret rooftop garden. m
27 Market Square
2,000 sq. ft. commercial space
2,000 sq. ft. loft
2 bdrm/2 bath
Contact: Andie Ray