Kay Davenport just knew it was time to go. After more than 20 years of running her North Market Cookware shop, she wanted to retire and travel the world.
What she didn’t know was the uncertain future of the iconic Columbus market would make it impossible to find a buyer for her business.
Davenport opened the shop in October 1998 and has been selling pots, pans and cooking gadgets ever since. She says she developed a loyal customer base by tailoring her shop to fit the eclectic tastes of North Market customers.
But that wasn't enough to overcome the risk associated with the iconic market’s planned overhaul.
It’s been nearly two years since city officials announced a 35-story skyscraper would take the place of the North Market parking lot, a piece of prime real estate tucked between downtown, the Short North and the Arena District. Plans called for a public outdoor plaza, a public two-story atrium, and 291 additional public parking spaces.
Little has been said since, although city officials say the project is still moving along. While elected leaders and developers remain positive, Davenport says getting a buyer for her business takes more certainty.
“The North Market has a few unanswered questions about its future right now, and that made it difficult for me to sell it,” Davenport says.
Davenport says she thinks the upcoming overhaul will make it more expensive for vendors to set up shop inside the market. She says her rent is currently “very reasonable.”
Davenport smiles when asked if it was Amazon or other big-box retailers that pushed her to close.
“I competed very well with all of them. I really did,” Davenport says. “I had no trouble competing.”
Her advice for aspiring shop owners hoping to follow her footsteps: “Keep the costs of your real estate low. And listen to your customers."
North Market Cookware's last day of business is Sunday, March 24.