ElectricCoArt: Vendor-Based Market Showcases Local Small Businesses

Located in Bedford, Virginia, ElectricCoArt houses vendors selling art, hand-crafted goods and vintage and retail fair-trade items. 

ElectricCoArt is becoming a hotspot for shopping, dining and entertainment, but it’s also a place where small businesses and artists can get involved for experience and exposure.

Owner Wendy Witt’s goal was to create a new, exciting spot for locals and visitors to shop and enjoy art. The market began with approximately 30 vendors, who pay rent and a commission, and opened June 1, 2021. The art gallery, also in the building, opened at the end of October 2021 with shows booked until the end of 2022.

Witt has more in store for the building in the future.

Witt’s plans for the market include placing her partner Bill Mauser’s blacksmith workshop and woodshop in the back for working on projects. Customers can view Mauser’s projects while he works, designing sculptures and furniture. 

Witt also plans to open a bistro serving American and regional fusion cuisine April 1. The final phase of expansions includes an outdoor stage behind the building for live music and entertainment. 

“We’re really hoping this is a full-day destination,” Witt said. “You can come to have lunch, enjoy the gallery, enjoy the market (and) maybe hear a little music.” 

Witt was born and raised in Bedford, Virginia, but moved around to see other parts of the country. She eventually moved back because it is home to her. 

Witt, working as a real estate agent, had the building as a listing but began to consider what she could do with it herself. She spoke with Mauser about using the building as his blacksmith workshop and woodshop.

ElectricCoArt creates another art destination in Bedford to attract more people to the town. Witt said she wanted to “give Bedford something it deserves.” 

“There’s plenty of other things to do around Bedford,” Witt said. “You can walk around to go shopping, check out the Bower Center, Goose Creek and antique shops all within a three-block radius. There are a couple days’ worth of fun things to do, and we just wanted to add to that.”

There are 20-30 vendors currently selling their goods in the marketplace with more joining on the first of the month. The vendors in the marketplace and the art in the gallery are always changing, according to Witt, which gives customers a reason to revisit to see what’s new.

Small businesses can become vendors by reaching out via email at electriccoart@gmail.com. They can also reach out on Facebook and Instagram @ElectricCoArt.  

Witt welcomes students to shop, dine and view art at her market. In addition, she is interested in hiring art and business majors for jobs and internships and encourages Liberty students to contact her via email at electriccoart@gmail.com for opportunities. 

Marsden is a feature reporter. 

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