Several months back, when a short-lived country store closed just down the road from Liberty Delight Farms, the fifth-generation Reisterstown farm co-owned by Lauren Taylor Hughes and her husband, Shane Hughes, the couple leapt at the opportunity to purchase the business and serve the neighborhood.
Their new venture, The Corner Market, has afforded them the chance to not only sell their own products—from rib-eye to rabbit—but also celebrate other local and regional small businesses.
And although the opportunity happened almost overnight, Lauren Taylor Hughes has had no shortage of ideas about how to use the space, which includes not only selling local goods but hosting workshops, dinners, and events, including an upcoming Valentine’s Day fete inside the greenhouse that’s adjacent to the store.
“We call this place the phoenix, because the phoenix has so many feathers and it reaches out so far,” says Hughes with a laugh. “And we built this out of the ground from nothing—not that it was burnt to ashes, but it was nothing more than a concrete slab with some walls.”
I know how busy you both are, from running the farm to working four farmers markets and selling your meat wholesale. Why did you decide to take on yet another project?
The folks who were in this space went out of business and we decided to buy it within three weeks. We were like, “We can’t not to do this.” It really puts our money where our mouth is when we say we are supporting the local community. We have a small farm store at Liberty Delight on-site, but this allows me to have more farms, more vendors, more events, and things that can bring the community together.
How did you decide what to stock on the shelves?
We have about 50 percent or so local products on the shelves. In addition to ready-made meals, I wanted to stock things for recipes where you only need five ingredients. I wanted to have interesting, unique, homemade items. But even if something was made in Oregon, it’s from a small company—I wanted to stick with regional and small-crafts people.
Can you highlight a few of your favorite items?
Our legacy partners include Dimitri Olive Oil and Atwater’s products and products from HEX Ferments, The Charmery, South Mountain Creamery, and Taharka Brothers. We work with Clean Cuisine, a deli in Owings Mills. They make wonderful fresh food to-go and it’s all gluten-free. Also, I know David Chang from living in D.C., so I wanted to bring in Momofuku products. And there’s the Faller’s Pretzels guys. We are the only wholesaler of Faller’s Pretzels in the state of Maryland, and I found them on a roadside stand. They’re the best pretzels out there.
How else will you use the space?
I am giving the greenhouse space to local crafters and artisans to sell their wares once a month. We are also going to use the space for dance and painting classes.
Why is it important to support local?
I want these people to succeed. I worked in corporate America for years—I was at The Washington Post in marketing. Shane was a vice president at Legg Mason. It’s all a little soulless. We have so many great makers here and it’s really cool to be part of that movement. I am amazed by the level of excellence. Baltimore is such a hidden gem.