CHARLOTTE, N.C. — At The People's Market in Elizabeth, there’s a special kind of energy.
On this particular afternoon, the all-day café is full of people. They’re ordering coffee, catching up with colleagues over lunch, hanging around the bar with friends or sitting solo working on laptops. If you close your eyes and just listen, what you hear is the sound of community.
It's hard to believe that a little over two-and-a-half years ago, it all went silent when the original People's Market in Dilworth closed suddenly.
"I mean, basically, we shut down," owner Cory Duran said. "We had a business arrangement, and then COVID happened."
What most would see as a sign to throw in the towel, Duran saw as another shot to get it right.
"I didn't like the way we closed and I wanted the opportunity to at least fix the things that we broke and then have a chance to do everything better," Duran said. "It was just an opportunity to kind of hit the restart button."
He credits the customers who loved the flagship spot on East Boulevard for his desire to do it all over again.
"It was the people. It was people sending me messages," he said. "I got a really nice message from someone, they had their first date and they wanted to give their wife an anniversary present of a mug from The People's Market and they asked if we had any. I just happened to have a couple in my cupboard, so I gave it to him.
"It's those types of situations that kind of made me keep fighting for it."
Regulars are undoubtedly thankful The People's Market is back in business. Greg Martinez, who lives in Matthews, says it's become his go-to spot.
"I've been coming to the Elizabeth area for a long time," Martinez explained. "I've seen it come, go and then return, and it's nice to have it again."
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While there are a few differences between the original spot in Dilworth and the new Elizabeth location, Duran said the one thing that will never change is the foundation on which The People's Market was built: to be a gathering spot for all people, no matter who they are.
"Everyone that comes to The People's Market is someone different," Duran said. "They come from a different background. We have doctors sitting next to tattoo artists a lot of the time and I just find it so fun to have people from different backgrounds, different parts of Charlotte — different parts of life — just being in here enjoying each other's company. We need a little bit of kindness in the world, so I tried to bring that here."
For Duran, it's all about cultivating a community of kindness with the promise to never take anything for granted.
"Everything we learned, everything we gained, everything we've lost, we were able to redo it and have the opportunity to have a second chance," he said. "We're just gonna try to make the most of it and do it even better."
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