The founders of Tildenville Marketplace have created what they hope will be a destination place for artists and community members who want a space to do some creating of their own.
Business partners Tina LaVallee, Chris de Felice and Lana Wilken-Gies are calling this a “show-and-tell” marketplace, where people can not only make art but sell it, too. Or they can connect to Wi-Fi and hang out in one of the hammocks and swinging chairs or at the countertop to get some work done.
Televisions will be set up to feature various marketplace vendors and artists.
Coffee, tea and juice, fresh fruit and local restaurant items are available for purchase.
Farm 9 is selling fresh-cut flowers, and Douce France Bakery is providing fresh bread and pastries.
“We are looking for a café feel,” LaVallee said. “We just want to be a community center, an eclectic retail outlet that has the handmade feel.”
The retail area allows local artists who can’t afford their own studios or storefronts to rent space to sell their wares. LaVallee said they want to specialize in earth tones and natural materials.
“Everything out there is muted; no bright colors,” she said. “I’m looking for antique, mid-century modern, French country, industrial; I’m not looking for neon green on a rack.”
Fibers such as cotton, linen, burlap and bamboo are preferred, she said, as well as natural soaps, candles, clay and other items.
“We want the makers of Winter Garden to make Winter Garden with us,” LaVallee said.
Tildenville Marketplace is seeking business sponsors, too. Florida Paints has already stepped up to provide iPads for the workspace to be used in art classes or for shopping in-store catalogs.
Andy Butler had planned to put a second Decologics store in this space but will, instead, act as a consigner. Jennifer Page of Page’s Pastiques also will have merchandise for sale.
IN THE WORKSHOP
Artist Lana Wilken-Gies operated Lana’s Art Studio in her garage for several years and, after outgrowing the space, is excited to relocate her studio to the marketplace.
She’s busy lining up workshops, starting with “Create! On Saturdays.” These classes are open to the community and are priced based on the project.
A six-week class begins Nov. 7 for middle-schoolers and Nov. 8 for elementary-school students and offers them an outlet to express themselves through art, Wilken-Gies said.
“With the arts seeing massive cuts in the school system, it is vital that all of the young people who have a natural draw to creative activity not be limited by income or accessibility to quality programs that inspire them,” she said.
The workshop space can be booked, as well, if a group of friends wants to paint or make signs or jewelry while sipping on wine.
“We want people to show their freedom side and want people to see there’s more to them,” LaVallee said. “(It’s) just a place where you can come and see where people who have a 9-5 job can also be an artist and make their stuff.”
Pottery and jewelry classes are coming soon, and LaVallee plans to offer a simple upholstery 101 class.
“In the spirit of our community and children, we want to offer before- and after-school homework help in our workshop area, and therefore we need to find a tutor that is willing to take that on,” Wilken-Gies said.
The business will be open Wednesday, Oct. 31, from 4 to 8 p.m. handing out candy to trick-or-treaters, and parents and students can check out the space.
In addition to these workshops, and collection of vendor displays, the Tildenville Marketplace will be accepting consignment pieces of historical essence and unique appeal, including furniture, decor, relics and art that are showroom-ready.
Several vintage chairs in the shop have been restored and repurposed by LaVallee.
Wilken-Gies and LaVallee have been friends for about 12 years and have always wanted to collaborate on a project that incorporated their artistic passions.
LaVallee, a freelance artist, and de Felice previously worked together on the restoration of the Edgewater Hotel in downtown Winter Garden and at the Oakland Manor House Inn.
The Tildenville Marketplace building was constructed in 1928 as a general store and market. J.S. “Shorty” Reddick supplied the Tildenville neighborhood with meats, groceries and notions for many years and cashed area citrus-grove laborers’ checks.
“This was a 1920s Wawa,” de Felice said. “It had everything.”
The new inhabitants want to pay tribute to the 1928 store and are highlighting some of the original features, such as the old pot-bellied stove, the general-store display cubbies and the cork-lined walk-in freezer.
“I’m drawn to the nostalgia,” LaVallee said. “We really want the nostalgia. It’s about, ‘How much history can we bring in here?’”
Page’s Pastiques, an antiques and collectibles shop, operated in the building for 28 years before closing in 2017.
“We feel like, spiritually, God wants to take this land, take this place and redeem it and bring it back to the community intimacy that it once was,” LaVallee said. “We want to be a part of the rebuilding of that.”
Community Editor Amy Quesinberry was born at the old West Orange Memorial Hospital and raised in Winter Garden. Aside from earning her journalism degree from the University of Georgia, she hasn’t strayed too far from her hometown and her three-mile bubble. She grew up reading The Winter Garden Times and knew in the eighth grade she wanted to write for her community newspaper. She has been part of the writing and editing team since 1990.