ADDRESS: 11661 Commerce Road
- Molly Berg
J & J Flea Market
ADDRESS: 11661 Commerce Road
A hidden secret in Athens, J & J Flea Market holds the title of being Georgia’s biggest flea market. Off of Commerce Road beyond downtown, J & J is located on over 150 acres of wooded land. The market continues to be a staple of the thrifting community three decades after its initial opening. A low-cost activity, the J & J Flea Market is free to the public and open every weekend. Shoppers visit regularly to find discount treasures.
Because of J and J’s vast acreage, vendors come from all over the state to sell their goods. Thousands of tables offer unique antiques and collectibles to visitors. In addition to its outdoor vendors, J & J contains four long building containers on the grounds. Inside the containers are the permanent stores, where the same vendors can be found on a weekly basis. One of my favorite stores is The Question Shop, which sells hundreds of comic books for only 25 cents each. Visitors can also find discount video games, clothes, movies, records and furniture in the stores. Each of the four containers is open every weekend, rain or shine.
J & J also offers lunch to hungry shoppers. Several restaurants permanently exist on the grounds including the Flea Bite Café, the Mexican Café and Taqueria Mi Tierra. The Flea Bite sells sodas, hot dogs and hamburgers, while the Mexican Café and Taqueria Mi Tierra offer authentic Mexican food. The Mexican food is reason enough to come to J & J.
Open Saturday and Sunday 8 to 5, J & J continues to host large crowds every weekend. Plenty of parking is available all over the grounds, regardless of the time of day. Many choose to park next to the lake, which is home to several ducks and geese that live on the grounds. Guests can sit in the wooden pavilion next to the lake and feed the ducks.
Guests can also wander through the outdoor rows of vendors, located next to the containers. Some vendors sell fresh fruits and vegetables, while others offer homegrown plants. These vegetables and plants are often cheaper than local grocery stores. Another outdoor section is Pet Row, where vendors bring their animals for adoption. Animals include cats, dogs, rabbits and even chickens. J & J also runs the J & J Railroad, a trolley that travels across the grounds. Pet Row and the J & J Railroad are some of the biggest attractions for kids.
Interested in becoming a vendor? J & J makes it easy. All you have to do is register with the front office and pay a fee. Rates are as low as $10 a day. Potential vendors can visit J & J’s official website, or visit the office the Friday before the market. With J & J Flea Market, it’s easy to buy, and even sell, valuable goods.
- Molly Berg
ADDRESS: 2161 West Broad St
There comes a point where you have to stop driving by a place and walk right in. Such was the case with Taj Mahal, which I pass by all the time on the way to the Kroger on Alps. If you're an adventurous eater or a lover of south Asian cuisine, you need to make a visit.
The decor is somewhat bare and white, but the content makes up for it, and food trumps atmosphere in the realm of grocery stores. Taj Mahal carries food that is found in Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Chinese, and Arabic cuisine.
Taj Mahal's stores range from raw ingredients, such as bags of rice, to pre-packed meal bases that only need meat and produce. The impression I get is that you can walk in with a low or high amount of cooking experience and still find what you need to prepare a good meal.
Taj Mahal's best feature is definitely its many freezers, which are packed with frozen produce, meats, microwaveable appetizers, and even some pre-made dishes. The meat freezer is particularly great, because it's stocked with lamb and goat, which I didn't even know where to find in Athens.
Of course, Taj Mahal carries other items, such as cosmetics, hair dye, and home fragrances. If you're an adventurous cook or just a sucker for ethnic food, stop by Taj Mahal and look at the selection for yourself. I promise that it far outpaces what you'll find in the two corporate grocery stores a few turns away.
ADDRESS: 1087 Baxter St
Just to clear things up, you're not going to find any trendy vegetables or cleanses at The Healthy Gourmet. Instead, focus on "gourmet," because here, it's all about quality food and personalized service.
The Healthy Gourmet has been open for eight years, and owners Anne and David Wells bought the store three years ago. Aside from great food, The Healthy Gourmet also provides great service and advice, which you can't find in a normal supermarket.
The Healthy Gourmet specializes in oils and vinegars, spices, and seasonings. They also carry a good selection of wine and fish. Most of the wine costs under $20.00, and many bottles under $10 are good. Anne said it's possible to find a good bottle for as little as $7.99. There is also a selection of higher-quality wine. The sea salt isn't refined. Several local products, such as Phickles Pickles, Mana in our Foods, and Weckback Family cheese, are also available.
The Healthy Gourmet only carries fish that are caught wild on small boats, a sustainable process. The fish tastes better and holds more nutrition. The fish is flash-frozen and shipped over.
If you'd like to do more with food than just buy it, The Healthy Gourmet holds monthly cooking classes with Tim Dondero. But you know what the best part is? The samples. On Saturdays, The Healthy Gourmet puts out a selection of food and wine for customers to sample, and that stuff is quality. Just thinking about the food I tried makes me want to go back for more. If you like food as much as I do, then you'll want to give The Healthy Gourmet more than just a taste.