The 80 Acre Market was closed on a recent Tuesday, but the former residence of the Smallwood family between Longview and Gilmer was bustling with activity.
The 20 employees who work at what is both a shopping experience and mostly free space for families and friends to spend time together were preparing for the final market of the season, a holiday-themed event that continues through Sunday.
“This was their farmhouse,” said Ashley Nichols, chief of staff for Josh Smallwood, CEO of the Smallwoods family of companies that includes a home décor business selling custom and standard home wall art produced in eight facilities around Longview. The company is building a new facility between Longview and Gilmer, near the 80 Acre Market at FM 12229 FM 1650, off U.S. 259, to bring its production and its more than 300 employees under one roof. The market is so named for the original 80 acres where the family built its home, although the property is much larger now.
Josh and Holly Smallwood and their five children no longer live in the stately, white two-story home. It was left as the home it was but now staged about twice a month with home décor and other items made by Smallwoods and vendors from around the world.
But that’s not the property’s only purpose, Nichols said.
“We do have a store. If you want to shop, great,” she said, as she walked through what was the family’s kitchen. It’s now where customers purchase their items at the 80 Acre Market.
But its purpose also is to provide a mostly free space where families can spend time together. Parking is free, and free face painting is offered, along with painting on canvas with a fee for the canvas. Musical entertainment is provided outside, with the Market’s “No Name Food Truck” selling Philly cheese steak and other sandwiches or mac and cheese for children. The truck takes suggestions from customers about what to name the truck.
Each room in the house is staged for retail sales, based on its original purpose. The master bathroom, for instance, highlights handmade soaps, laundry detergent and potpourri made on-site by a mother-daughter team employed by Smallwoods. The master closets display shirts for sale, and the dining room was being staged with holiday dining room items.
“This was a house. This is where they lived,” Nichols said. “Now it’s just all repurposed.”
And it’s restaged with new and different items before each market.
Nichols said plans are to continue expanding what’s available to families at the 80 Acre Market — with plans for a pond and walking trail, for instance.
“We really want to explore what the community wants to have,” at the 80 Acre Market, Nichols said,
Each market weekend has seen close to 2,000 visitors since it opened in October, Nichols said. This is the last weekend this year, with the market opening again on Jan. 14-16.
Hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday.