Dragonfly Market Place brings past to the present with expansion in the future

By Scott Baughman

Mr. Goodwrench looks over a batch of television antennas and moonshine jugs while shoppers peruse blankets, books and popular fashions. But this scene isn’t out of 1988, it’s early October 2022 in downtown Rutherfordton at the Dragonfly Market Place on South Washington Street. And while Goodwrench has been retired as a mascot for many years, here the life-sized standee of him is just one of many artifacts to tempt collectors and shoppers alike.

“We’ve been in business since 2016. Previously we were up the street near the winery for five years. We were busting out at the seams and needed more room,” said owner Kim Crowe. “We arrived in here with 14 bookcases of stuff but have grown to two stories and two connected buildings. And we are growing again! We will be opening the basement in Spring of ’23.”

Dragonfly’s new home is the erstwhile Doncaster Sewing plant in Rutherfordton and the merchandise at vendor’s stalls often takes the form of continuing a fine tradition of textile goods in the building. The facility was built in 1938, but Crowe has done many renovations to help make it better suited to the individual stalls for her merchants.

“In 2020 we were awarded the best gift store in Rutherford County,” Crowe said. “We love our vendors. They are like family and I think that translates to our clientele also. We are always having fun events like our yard sale and sip & shop.”

But just because the merchandise can often be of the vintage or even antique variety, doesn’t mean Crowe hasn’t made sure to keep Dragonfly firmly planted in the current times.

“You can shop our awesome store online through Facebook or come in person,” she said. “And please make sure to enter our drawing for $100 between November 5 and December 5. No purchase is necessary.”

In addition to clothing, fashion items, outdoor gear and travel mugs, Dragonfly is home to products from local artisans and rarities like Civil War-era antiques.

Some of the most unique things Crowe has seen sold include hand-made miniature tree houses, goods from a local glassblower, pottery and even a local blacksmith.

“And we have an artist who takes old spoons and tea kettles and turns them into wind chimes,” Crowe said. “We have a photographer that does vintage style photos and another one who does greeting cards.”

Crowe said there has been a brisk business over the past few years in antiques of unique usage.

“I’m always learning things from folks bringing items to sell,” she said. “Vendors teach me about antiques when they bring them in. We have had a printing press, a wheat thresher and people bring in things like an old washing machine where you wring out the clothes by hand.”

For awhile the shop was home to a working Victrola record player. It has since been sold but plenty of vinyl records are still for sale. Music often wafts from the upper floor as customers try out the discs.

“The older gentlemen will come in sometimes and play the old records while their wife shops,” Crowe said.

The 21,000-square-foot former factory is home to more than 70 vendors now, with plans to expand.

“Rutherfordton needed a store like this. Now people don’t have to travel out of town to Asheville or somewhere to shop,” Crowe said. “And we have such a good mix of new, old, and vintage items for sale. We do free booths for several charities. We have art classes coming up soon and currently we have knitting and crochet classes every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.”  

The hand-crafted textiles are still front and center with yarn from a local farmer who spins wool. 

“The local goods are our biggest sellers,” Crowe said. “People want to support local artists.”

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