Popular East Dallas cafe sprouts little grocer to serve neighborhood
The über-neighborhood restaurant Garden Cafe has sprouted an interesting new sibling: a general store and produce market called the Stock Exchange, Neighborhood Pantry. It's going into the space next door that was most recently a photography studio. Owner Mark Wootton hopes it will serve as a convenience for the neighborhood.
"It's a general store with a lot of produce and items you would find at a farmers market, like honey, jam, olive oil, and produce," he says. That said, it will not be strictly local or organic.
"I'm not trying to operate a shop on ideals," he says. "The produce is from all over, and it's not an organic shop or a farmers market shop. I am not just selling what I want to sell, but instead providing a convenience for customers. I'll have lots of farm produce, but conventional produce, too, from vendors such as FreshPoint, Bonton Farms, and Comeback Creek Farm."
Wootton is especially big on exotic mushrooms in multiple varieties, such as shiitake, shimeji, maitake, and king oyster, with a "dime bag" option where you can get a half pound of mixed for $10. But, he also intends on selling non-edibles.
"I've wanted to do this for years," he says. "Tom Spicer's produce stand was a big inspiration, but I've also wanted to have a retail shop and create a space where people can hang out, and I can sell books and food that I like."
He's also responsive to customer needs.
"I posted on Facebook pages asking if something like this existed, what would you want?" he says. "I'm responding to feedback."
One thing that will help its prospects is its symbiotic relationship with the restaurant.
"One thing that helps me is that I don't need to worry about inventory," he says. "If the tomatoes don't sell, we can use them in the restaurant. I’m not buying just for the shop, it can be used in the restaurant and basically stored in the grocery store. When pantry station needs a tomato, they can run over to the store."
The official hours are 10 am to 6 pm, Wednesday through Sunday. "But if the blinds are open, we're open," he says.