By Tim Ferguson
You have GOT to go to the Co-Op in Rutledge. Go over the railroad tracks, pull up to the famous stop barrel and look to your right, then look to your left, then look right again and you’ll see the Co-Op in an old brick building with lots of plants and trees on the sidewalk out front. After looking once again for traffic and pedestrians, proceed and find a parking space, then head on in to discover the secrets inside the building. The Co-Op gets its name because it is a cooperative venture of a group of local entrepreneurial ladies who are also friends. Well-known local decorative artist Molly Lesnikowski first started the idea with a few of her friends, two of whom, sooner, rather than later, had to move out into larger spaces. This left Molly and her painted accessories alone with only Crystal Scott, owner of Terra Bella Landscaping. That’s not a bad thing; it’s just that Crystal’s plants, bushes and trees are outside in front of the building, leaving a lot of space for Molly to fill on the inside.
Now enter Cindy Ferguson, Mary Frazier, Laurie Dickerson, Jane Crawshaw, Betsy Winn and Nancy Clark. What used to be nearly empty is not anymore! Cindy brings antiques and other vintage items and she loves to decorate and coordinate weddings. Mary Frazier is not new to this type of business, having had a shop in Rutledge many years ago and also having a booth in Madison in one of the antique malls. Mary specializes in “smalls” and vintage kitchen objects. Laurie, who used to be found at Rosie’s Antiques in Social Circle and who has had booths in Monroe, complements the group with her decorating flair as well as an eclectic collection of found objects. You’ll also find Laurie’s decorating touch at LilyBeth’s.
Betsy Winn is a potter who used to sell her wares in the Red Doors Studio before it morphed into the dining room of the Caboose. After many requests from former customers Betsy has brought her clay creations back to Rutledge. We’re not done… There are two more members of the group who have come from afar to be a part of the Co-Op. Nancy Clark brings her treasures all the way from Bolingbroke, a community outside Macon that has more than its share of antique dealers. She scours Bibb County to bring unique treasures to Rutledge, where she’d rather be. Having travelled the greatest distance is Jane Crawshaw, a true Brit, who has comfortably settled into Morgan County with her husband. Jane sells an unusual assortment of British candy at the Co-Op.
Having found a parking space, you’ve now exited your car and strolled down the brick sidewalk, to be greeted by a display of interesting plants. Crossing the threshold, you hear the sound of soft flowing music and are greeted by one of the charming staff. Having entered the store, you are dazzled by the vast array of inventory the Co-Op presents to you. The Co-Op ladies are Rutledge’s version of American Pickers. Do yourself a favor by visiting the Co-Op as well as the other great stores and restaurants in Rutledge.