Seniors participate in last marketplace


Stafford and Westbrooks’ destination sign

The Clairemont Marketplace has been part of Decatur for the last 25 years. Held at Clairemont Elementary School, the marketplace features over 100 local artists showcasing and selling their work. For seniors Sarah Grace Stafford and Clara McKay, this year will be their last.

Both Stafford and McKay grew up attending the marketplace, but it wasn’t until their sophomore year that they decided to become sellers. After visiting Stafford’s lakehouse the summer after freshman year, they were inspired to create destination signs after seeing the ones on display.

Stafford and McKay have been making and selling the signs since their sophomore year.

We all came home and made our own, and that was when we realized we could make this into a viable business,” McKay said.

The Clairemont Marketplace was the perfect opportunity to start their business.

Stafford and senior Whitney Westbrook were in charge of painting the signs, while McKay was taking in orders, a job that was nerve-wracking at first.

“I was a shy sophomore, so it really freaked me out, but once the customers started coming in I realized I had nothing to be worried about because our product can speak for itself,” McKay said.

Their first year was hugely successful, which encouraged them to continue to sell. But the preparation for the signs takes a lot out of their schedules. Stafford, McKay and Westbrook have to find old pallets, slice the boards, sand them and cut them into arrows.

However, the preparation allows the girls to spend time together, which is hard with the stress of their senior year.

(left to right) McKay, Stafford and Westbrook

“It’s a ton of work, but I love the time we get to spend together doing this,” Stafford said.

Besides the preparation, Stafford and McKay enjoy the event itself.

It’s cool to be able to hear a bit about places that are close to people’s’ hearts and why,” Stafford said. “The stories are sometimes funny and very dear. That’s my favorite part, besides the desserts.”

For their last year, the team knows they won’t miss the tedious preparation of the event, but they will miss something else.

Next year, I will miss being with Whitney and Sarah Grace the most. The marketplace is a ton of work which can get crazy sometimes, but I love getting to spend time with them,” McKay said.

Stafford agrees but embraces her final year. 

It’s hard work and although I have enjoyed it, there is a time for everything to end and I am ready for it,” she said.