Surge of new grocers offers more proof of an emerging locally focused creative class in Beaufort

Lowcountry Produce will soon expand from their Lobeco location to a market in the center of Beaufort.

Even during the great economic downturn Beaufort was no sleepy town of sleepy commercial expansion, still that expansion was certainly not always focused on principles of empowering the local economy.

So a trio of recent news developments is very welcome news.  

At the end of June  longtime area farm-goods retailer Lowcountry Produce announced it would set up a green grocer in the old non-used city hall space in the heart of downtown.

Just days before that, Sea Islands Local Outlet (SILO) launched in Habersham and is offering a plethora of locally sourced foods for sale to area restaurants, organizations, and citizens via an online system that will make items available for pickup during the community's weekly farmers markets.

And at the start of June we heard that a new organic "holistic" market Herban Marketplace would open in Uptown, likely sometime in August.

(Also, as a bonus, in June a new Burton farmers market started, Pick Pocket Plantation Farmers Market.)

These are good news for obvious reasons: Businesses are doing well and they're putting dollars into a rebounding real estate market.

But it's even better news once you take a step back: While these businesses fit into the categories of "green, local, food, and healthy" they are not all clones, they each serve different geographic areas and distinct different types of consumers.

This means there's a far greater chance that all three will survive their tumultuous first years and it shows that new and creative markets are emerging, and that's good for business, consumers, our community's identity, and our creative class.

All in all it gets a lot closser to where we want Beaufort to be, as Mayor Billy Keyserling put it: "Now imagine all of the vacant spaces filled with businesses run by people who lived downtown and patronized by people who could work, dine and shop downtown. You would see a vibrant downtown again bordered by the Beaufort River on three sides and Battery Creek on the fourth side, not just Bay Street. Corner markets, bike shops, beauty parlors, small and large stores, a larger variety of restaurants. ... It is a story of a compact, friendly, livable, sustainable and neighborly community."