March 1, 2017
Rescue me. It's hard not to say those two words out loud and not recall the popular 1965 hit single by rhythm and blues singer Fontella Bass.
Take me in your arms
I want your tender charm
Cause I'm lonely
And I'm blue
I need you
And your love too
Come on and rescue me
But contrary to the lyrics of this song, nothing is lonely or blue about Deanne Avery or Lane Coggins, owners of Rescue Me Market in Thomaston, Georgia. These Georgia girls embarked on a mission to rescue themselves from their seemingly stagnant banking careers by revitalizing a historic building in their hometown.
Back in "the day," RM Market's 5000-square-foot building was home to the town's local hardware store -- where everyone went to buy everything. O.W. Jones & Son Hardware Company operated from 1910 until circa 1987, closing its doors when the community's first big box retailer, K-mart, moved to town.
"The Jones family were wonderful people. Truly, good folk who were passionate about not just the merchandise they sold but about the people of Thomaston. Many tell us, 'this is where I got my first bicycle', 'my first shotgun', or where 'my wedding gifts were purchased.' It was during a time when everyone came to the town square, the heart of the city, to commence any kind of formal trade or commerce," says Coggins.
Over the decades, Thomaston, like many other small towns across America, has suffered due to the lost of industry. The town square doesn't quite have the allure it once did. Avery and Coggins, life-time residents of Thomaston, decided it was time to start a revolution. On March 1, 2012, the doors opened to Rescue Me Market.
"It was such a good feeling to see so many lined up at the door to get in. We didn't really know what to expect and we certainly weren't prepared for all that would come from it," says Avery.
After purchasing the storefront property they'd rented for four years, the two initiated a massive renovation of the old hardware store, embarking on what would be their biggest challenge yet. They each assumed the role of co-contractors, performing much of the demolition themselves to keep the project moving along.
The market remained open for business in spite of loud equipment and constant interruptions.
"Even when the store looked it's worst -- and we did too -- customers kept coming in to shop. We were sure it was going to cause our sales to slump, but the opposite happened. We were busier than ever. The people of Thomaston seemed happy to see us revamping. Customers stopped in just to cheer us on," says Avery.
In October of 2016, just in time to kick off the holiday season, construction was complete.
"Staying true to the old hardware store feel was really important to us. We knew the bones of the building were in good shape. It was just a matter of peeling back all the previous layers to find ithem," says Coggins.
Today, the original wall-to-wall, one-hundred-year-old heart pine hardwood floors and the heart pine bead board ceiling have been exposed and preserved. The newly refinished space feels fresh and clean while hinting to an earlier time in Thomaston when so many frequented the hardware store.
With the renovation now complete, Deanne and Lane are still in the business of selling antiques, vintage relics and home goods. They have recently added a Southern gourmet foods section and have launched an online store. Business is good.