Collective Roots, a local market and cafe, is set to bring something brand new to downtown Anderson. When it opens, it will be the first grocery store downtown in almost 50 years. The store has a strong focus on locally grown or produced items, according to owner Anna Ulam.
“We will sell everything from milk, veggies, bread and meat to fresh floral arrangements and handmade soap,” Ulam said. “We have set out to help local small businesses grow within our walls.”
The market and cafe will have an emphasis on helping people in the local community, with many different kinds of products offered.
“At least 90% of the foods and goods that will be available in our store were sourced from Madison County,” she said. “Our cafe will feature items for every lifestyle, along with Jackrabbit Coffee’s drip coffee and teas and Sweet Jill’s pastries and baked goods.”
Nearly 30 vendors selling baked goods, soaps, candles, art, plants and more will all have a place at Collective Roots.
“Sweet Jill’s is my go-to lady for all things food,” Ulam said. “She makes sweet treats for all lifestyles, and is also a vendor at Anderson City Market and a good friend of mine.
“Also, Free Folk Farm. Chuck and Christine co-own an urban farm on the Northside of Anderson. They are producing enough veggies to sell at Anderson City Market, Pendleton Farmers Market, Marketwagon and Collective Roots Local Market & Cafe on just a half an acre. They are also really good people and great friends of mine.”
After spending 10 years being on-call as a doula, a healthcare professional who helps with childbirth, Ulam started to think about what she wanted to do next.
“I have many friends that are farmers and I love to garden, so an idea for a small farm store morphed into more than 30 vendors contributing to a market and cafe,” she said.
Ulam’s own lifestyle transitions played a major role in the creation of the market and the audience she hopes to reach.
“Eating a plant-based diet for more than three years, I personally felt the lack of restaurant options in the area,” she said. “That combined with a need for healthier grocery options in the community, I would say I am targeting an audience that is focused on sustainable, healthy food sources.”
College students and young people in general are also part of the audience that Ulam is hoping to reach.
“I feel like young people are more health conscious than the generations before them,” she said. “People also want to know where their food comes from, and let’s face it, if you aren’t over 21 there are a limited amount of hang-outs in Anderson.”
Collective Roots will be located at 1102 Central Avenue on the ground floor of an apartment building. Ulam said that downtown Anderson always seemed like the perfect location.
“Downtown Anderson fit that bill and had more building options than other areas of town,” she said. “With all the new buzz surrounding downtown and finding the perfect landlord and building option, that is where we landed.”
While the pandemic has impacted many small businesses drastically, Ulam says that the construction process has surprisingly gone very smoothly in the midst of the circumstances.
“I have been really lucky to find contractors willing to work during unsure times,” she said. “I actually think the timing was perfect. Being such a small project shut off from other people was ideal for my contractors to feel safe in the working environment. The local agencies have also been very responsive when I have had questions or needed help.”
With it being a small project and location, Ulam said she feels that people feel much more comfortable going to a small establishment rather than a large, crowded store during these times.
Ulam is planning to have a soft opening in the next couple of weeks, but she’s still unsure of a grand opening date. She’s also hoping to bring a new culture to downtown Anderson.
“I hope Collective Roots brings a sense of family to the community,” she said. “Attending Anderson City Market last year and vending there this year, I can say you ‘feel the love’ so to speak and the need for connection. There are many like-minded people in our area and we are just hoping to be a great, happy meeting place for those people and an aggregate for all things local.”