By John Fleming
Where Oakdale meets McLendon sits a cluster of shops that practically oozes charm. Yet, some might say it also drifts along a little sleepy, especially when compared to the happy swirl of Little Five Points and the bustle of Candler Park’s commercial area a few blocks east.
On a recent Saturday, though, the place was banging with customers, neighbors inside and outside of the area, moving door to door, snapping up free drinks, chocolates and other stuff on offer.
The fun afternoon was the lift-off of what you could call a branding effort by the shop owners here. Dubbed “Little Candler Spring Fling,” it was not only an event, but the establishment of a name to bring identity to this tiny commercial district until now a waystation to the area’s other attractions.
You might say, it’s a note to Atlanta that reads: Little Candler, let it be known, is right here, at Oakdale and McLendon and it’s here to stay.
“We are that no-name place between Little Five and Candler Park Market,” said Apollo Gott, owner of The Gilded Angle. “We wanted a name, and now we have it.”
Spring Fling and the ushering in of “Little Candler” is the culmination of about eight months of work, says Sean Germain, the owner of Sean’s, a coffee and sandwich shop across the way. “We got together months ago and we had a vote, and the name Little Candler won,” he said.
It was a business decision, but it was also done very much with the neighborhood in mind, he and other shop owners said. “”We saw [Little Candler] as a way to help activate the village.”
To Germain and the others, giving name to the intersection of shops is handing it identity, but it is also helping to pull the immediate area closer together.
Across McLendon at Candler Park Flowers, owner Dawn Kee couldn’t agree more. Pausing from the pre-Mother’s Day run on her shop, she said, “this is exciting.” It’s good for business, of course, but also, it just has a good neighborhood feel.
“I love this kind of community,” she said.
Next door, at Presmanes Interiors, and across the street at Marie Marie Salon and the Hungarian Dinner Club, people were grabbing free food and drinks and… communing.
Adjacent to the salon, Matt Hunt, the owner of BiblioTech book store, has brought a youthful energy to the area, hosting poetry slams and improv, when he’s not selling books. He’s been a supporter of the Little Candler idea since its inception. But he also sees it as much about community building than as a boost to business.
Next door, relative newcomer Rebecca Hanna, co-owner of the Young Blood jewelry shop, says she loves the vibe in this corner of Candler Park. That’s true, she says, not only during the Little Candler Spring Fling, but just about all the time.
“‘Little Candler,’ it’s a super cute name,” she said. But this neighborhood, she explained, is already special. Noting that her shop was previously located in the Highlands, she said, “everyone here is so kind, and so sweet.” Looking around at her full shop, she added, “you know, we get more traffic here than when we were there.”
She, like most everyone else here, is already seeing big things happen in this little corner of Candler Park.
John Fleming is the Communications officer for the CPNO.