Gem City Market Opens Saturday

3 22 Gem City MktWilliam Paine/Patriot Publishing

The Gem City Market is located on 16 East Main Street in Pulaski, Va.



Patriot Publishing

The Grand Opening of the Town of Pulaski’s newest business will take place this coming Saturday March 23, as the Gem City Market will open its doors to the public. The Gem City Market is located at the historic White Glenn building at the corner of East Main Street and Washington Avenue in the heart of downtown Pulaski.

Gem Meredith
The Gem City Market sells more than just clothing. Meredith McGrady created Nectar, her own brand of handmade jewelry, which can be seen in the glass cabinet at the left of the photo. (William Paine/Patriot Publishing)

It wasn’t long ago that this same address, 16 East Main Street, served as the offices of the Glenn Insurance Agency, which was established way back in the 1952. That all changed by the end of last year, as the Glenn Insurance business was sold to the Ridpath Insurance Agency, which currently occupies the Washington Avenue side of the White Glenn building.

“The turnaround has been rather quick,” said a smiling Meredith McGrady, owner of the Gem City Market. “I’ve been here seven days a week for months.”

Meredith had worked at Glenn Insurance since 2002 with her father Nick Glenn, who took over the business from his father Dick Glenn.

So why change careers now?

“This was an idea of mine and my sisters,” said Meredith. “We’ve always loved making jewelry and we love shopping. So, it was just kind of a natural thing. It’s hard to find gifts anywhere in the town of Pulaski. Now, this will be a spot to go buy gifts for your girlfriend, for your mother or just friends.”

“I just wanted to do something fun and needed to get dad retired,” she added. “And if I stayed in insurance, dad was going to stay in insurance.”

In a few short months, Meredith has been able to transform the staid offices of the Glenn Insurance Agency into a beautiful brightly colored boutique. One major aspect of the renovation included removing and replacing the old tile and carpet flooring.

“We moved the agency out at the very end of December and I had to pull in some extra help to put down this new lovely, vinyl plank,” Meredith explained. “This building was built in 1906 and so I’m the fourth generation that has owned it and nothing is level. Absolutely nothing is level.”

In all, the transformation from Glenn Insurance to the Gem City Market produced two dumpster loads of material. According to Meredith, this was a team effort.

“My sister, my husband, a couple of friends, my dad … We couldn’t have done it without dad,” she admitted. “He’s been our trash hauler and load runner. He’s retired now, so he needs something to do to keep him busy!”


Judging by the variety of merchandise in the Gem City Market, Meredith McGrady has also been quite busy.

“Clothing is the main focus here,” said Meredith, who then explained that the Gem City Market will carry dresses, casual wear, sleep wear, work clothes, workout gear and shoes. Soon, she will be making custom T-shirts in one of the back rooms of the store.

“I’m just finding things that I personally like and clearly I like color,” said Meredith. “I like bold patterns, but I’m also trying do things that other people would like as well. We’re trying to cater to anyone and everyone.   We’ve got small to 3x in most items. I’ve got lots of jean jackets. If anybody needs jean jacket attire to go to the Bon Jovi concert at the Pulaski Theater in a few weeks, they can come in here and get an outfit for the concert.”

But don’t expect to see the same items of clothing between visits to the Gem City Market.

“Those will be constantly changing,” said Meredith. “Once it sells there’ll be something different taking its place. We will not be restocking the same things over and over again because I want people to see different things everytime they come in … And for everybody in Pulaski to not be wearing the same dress or the same top.”

The Gem City Market carries more than just clothing. A glass cabinet by the entrance features brightly colored necklaces, bracelets and earrings, many of which Meredith created herself for Nectar, her own personal line of jewelry.

“We also have Alegria that we’re selling for,” said Meredith. “All their jewelry is made in Honduras by a small group of ladies. The owner of the company takes the supplies down to Honduras for them to make all these beautiful handmade pieces. They only make 50 of each piece and it gives them employment and gives them purpose.”

The Gem City Market will also stock Katie Loxton purses and sunglasses as well as various lotions, perfumes and … hummingbirds.

“Clearly, we sell a little bit everything,” said Meredith. “We have a love of hummingbirds that came from our grandmother, so we have a lot of things with hummingbirds.”

Meredith’s new place of business will also carry adult crafts, puzzles, card games, diamond art, pens, notepads, notebooks, wine accessories and even tiny coloring books.

Saturday’s Grand Opening will include offering a free fragrance sample to the first 50 customers and a gift card drawing for Gem City Market shoppers. Those looking for gifts for loved ones can have their packages gift wrapped and Meredith will be more than happy to help those who don’t know exactly what they’re looking for.

“It’s mostly for women but if a man comes in here and needs like a gift for his wife or girlfriend or Mother, I’ll be able to ask, what does she like?” Meredith offered.

When asked why Meredith chose the name Gem City Market for her new boutique, she produced an article entitled “The Gem of the Mountains – It’s Inception and Growth.”

The article, which seems to have been written about a century ago, offers a brief history of the Town of Pulaski and ends thusly:

“Is it any wonder, therefore, that with its advantages of location, its substantial start, its moneyed backing; its handsome houses; good churches, splendid schools and thrifty warm-hearted people, that Pulaski is called the Gem of the Mountains?”

It’s true. Pulaski is indeed the Gem of the Mountains and the Gem City Market is most definitely worth a visit.

The Gem City Market will be open from 10 a.m. till 4 p.m. on Saturday March 23rd and from noon till 4 p.m. on Sunday, March 24.