Like many items inside its rooms, the Ronnie Thompson farmhouse at 772 Brawley School Road has been repurposed.In its new life as Greystone Gallery and Gifts, the building is becoming a community hub. While parents wait for children to finish lessons at The Academy of Dance and Fine Arts next door, they can relax on the front porch.Mikki Speed has created a fresh ambience in the house. With a smile and outstretched hand, she walks down the front hall to greet visitors. Since leaving a corporate life filled with travel, Speed has decided to pursue her dream. “Here I am,” she said.After moving from Tennessee four years ago, Speed enjoys the small-town feel of Mooresville. She likes working in an environment where she can bring her dog, Katie, and share fresh produce from the Thompson garden.“I like coming to work here every day,” Speed said.She has discovered that “people want to buy things made locally that have a story behind them,” Speed said. As she leads people through rooms, Speed discusses the work of area artisans like Donna Brawley, a metal sculptor, and Frances Gamewell, a potter. Objects made from reclaimed wood and metal co-exist with new pieces. Although every item is not handcrafted by a North Carolina artisan, Speed is adding more that are. Along the way, her business plan has changed. As Speed shares and promotes one-of-a-kind art, she has become an agent who helps artists find appropriate places to showcase their work.In October, Speed will celebrate her first anniversary at Greystone. Four days after opening the gallery in 2012, Speed partnered with the Mooresville Soup Kitchen and hosted Pumpkin Palooza. She will continue the tradition next month.A few days prior to Oct. 5, fall decorations of mums, pumpkins and bales of hay will appear underneath a large white tent on the front lawn — the signal for Pumpkin Palooza 2013, which benefits the Soup Kitchen. When the Good Time Band fills the front porch with bluegrass music, the farm will come to life again. Children will be busy in the Kidzone painting faces and pumpkins, but there will be time to join adults at the car show. There’s no registration fee, just a donation of four to six canned goods.Local bakeries are donating cakes for an old-fashioned cake walk, a favorite activity last year.Vendors will offer everything from handmade bow ties to honey. There’ll be plenty of pit-cooked barbecue, hot dogs and ice cream.The market and family-friendly event is “kind of like everybody getting together for a party,” Todd Biggs, director of MSK Food Services said. Hosting the festival on Brawley School Road raises awareness of the Soup Kitchen’s mission. In 2012, the soup kitchen served meals to 58,000 people. So far this year, the organization has fed 67,000. Biggs estimates the number will rise to 100,000 by year’s end.All pumpkins have been donated. The purchase of an $8 pumpkin will feed eight people. One church has volunteered to buy leftover pumpkins and mums. They’ll distribute them to the 200 people who regularly eat at the Soup Kitchen. “A small business can partner with only a few organizations,” Speed said. “It’s easy to partner with MSK, and last year’s event was so successful.”Speed has found her home in the community. She participates in the LKN Consignment Crawl with Give-Back Boutique, a non-profit, and sponsors the Lakeside Artists Studio Tour 2013.Sandra Phillips is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Sandra? Email her at email@example.com.
Saturday, Sep. 21, 2013
Pumpkin Palooza will benefit Soup Kitchen
Want to go? Pumpkin Palooza runs from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Oct. 5. Sponsors can support MSK, and levels range from $1,500 for Big Pumpkins to $100 for Little Pumpkins. For information, call Todd Biggs at 704-660-9010.
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