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Center Stage Market voted Chamber Small Business of Month

AMERICUS — Center Stage Market’s owner Kat Mournighan opened in August 2015, in the heart of downtown Americus in what most call the “old Belk’s.” Inside the 100+ year-old department store building you will find the original wood floors and towering beams with spacious aisles to display foods not usually found in a small, rural community. Once inside you will be greeted by one of the 12 friendly, welcoming people it takes to run a daily grocery store (Hours: 10 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Monday – Thursday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., and from noon-6 p.m. Sunday.)
Mournighan and her team of help customers find foods for restrictive diets like Whole30, Keto, gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, etc., as well as customers with newly diagnosed food allergies and conditions like high blood pressure, celiac disease, diabetes, gout and more. There is even a clinical certified herbalist on staff who, while not a medical professional, advises customers on choosing foods and supplements. Many customers come looking for foods either with or without certain ingredients, and at this market, every customer takes “center stage.” Shopping is not only a pleasure due to the relaxed, peaceful environment but also because it is like having a personal shopper directing each customer to products that fit a specific need.
Many customers are daily or weekly shoppers who come both for fresh options of grab and go (salads, wraps, beverages, prepped vegetables that can quickly become dinner) as well as for the community. Staff members take the time to learn regular customers’ names and food preferences even selecting many of the products for specific people. Additionally, Center Stage Market performs 20-30 special orders per week, at no extra charge.
This unique grocery model grew out of Mournighan’s previous food business, the Picky Eaters Buying Club. Once housed in the warehouse of coffee producer Café Campesino, on then Spring Street, 40 families bought organic, specialty and local foods in a once-a-month market. A decade ago it was unheard of to order groceries on the Internet and have them magically appear in your small town. But Mournighan was personally motivated to meet the needs of her now 12-year-old son, Sean, who was diagnosed with both autism and severe food allergies at the tender age of 22 months. Parents of special needs children are not only resourceful, they are also passionately determined to help their children get what they need.
Center Stage Market is more than a beacon for special diets, however. There is a fine wine section with monthly wine tastings, a wine club, craft beer, unique gift and retail items, organic and local produce, health and beauty products including essential oils, bulk foods and everyday items like cereal, pasta, chips, candy and soda. Open seven days a week, the market is a trusted guide for visitors arriving on the weekends or who want to take home Georgia grown foods, especially hometown favorites such as New Era Olive Oil, Café Campesino coffee, Wolf Creek Plantation wine and Koinonia Farm chocolates.
Center Stage Market is located in downtown Americus, Georgia, 121 W. Forsyth St., or visit their website at www.centerstagemarket.com.
If you or a business you know makes a sustainable effort to strengthen the community through exceptional business practices and outreach efforts, nominate them at www.sumtercountychamber.com or call Carolyn at the Chamber 229-924-2646 for more information.