Expanded name, gift selection bring excitement to Market 54 on Main in Pratt

Courtney Blankenship
Pratt Tribune
Round Christmas signs (top left) and Skyline step stools from old bleachers (bottom left) are two hot-selling items at Market 54 on Main in Pratt this month. The store is now owned by Karen Hampton.

Market 54 on Main, a vintage art and gift shop in Pratt, opened its doors under new management this December.

Formerly called Market 54, new owner Karen Hampton bought the business from Karin Koehn, adding an extension to the well-recognized name.

“Market 54 was a well-established, successful business with a great customer base, so buying it was a no-brainer,” Hampton said. “I've helped Karin in the store in the past, and was there most Saturdays. Market 54 has always been one of my favorite places to shop and the atmosphere makes me happy.”

From buying the store to opening it,

Hampton said the process only took about six weeks.

“The first three weeks have been absolutely amazing,” Hampton said. “I have had a very diverse group of people visit the store. People from out of town, people from Pratt who have never been in the store, and many many ‘regular’ customers.”

Hampton said that one of her favorite parts has been seeing the ways people have been supporting local businesses both in their own towns and in Pratt.

“Thankfully we have only had to make minimal changes because of the pandemic,” Hampton said. “I wear a mask at the store and try to encourage others to do the same. We have free masks and sanitizer available, but customers are welcome to shop without one.”

The store is a retailer for Dixie Belle chalk paint and features items from local ‘hobbyists,’ Hampton said, with approximately 20 vendors contributing to the store as she focuses on refurbishing and repainting furniture.

“Market 54 on Main is a store with old, new and everything in between,” Hampton said. “Sometimes you can find some very unique items in the store and things are always changing.”

Best selling items include round door signs with various sayings and handmade felt garland, however, customers can also find homemade decor, floral wreaths and arrangements, and vintage and antique items. 

“These products are grouped together to create a vignette so you can visualize them in your own home,” Hampton said. “For no bigger than it is, there are numerous things to see at Market 54 on Main.”

Recently, the store sold footstools made from bleachers that were removed from the Skyline gym. The footstools sold quickly with proceeds from sales going to a fund to support the Skyline Technology Program in purchasing material, tools and equipment for future student produced products.

Bryan Pixler, Skyline High School technology instructor, said that he needed to come up with a project to build for the material and processes unit of his Introduction to Engineering class, and he thought recycling the bleacher boards would be a good use of the resource.

"Besides a savings to the student, the nostalgia of where the material came from was a unique feature," Pixler said. "We started making them prior to the Thanksgiving break then began mass producing them once students were finished with their own footstools."

Within a 110 minute block of time, Pixler said the students assembled 18 footstools and finished assembling another 6 to 8 footstools the next day.

"Spraying them with the finish coat took a little longer, but after about a week, we had about 24 completed footstools," Pixler said. "Footstools were produced in mass production style with material and parts moving in an assembly line fashion from cutting parts, assembly, finish prep and finishing stations along the assembly line. Students learned about jigs and fixtures, what bottlenecks were and also a bit about marketing a product."

After he retired from teaching for 32 years at Pratt High School, Pixler said he missed designing and building with students and helping them to develop employable skills. This project allowed the class of 16 students to learn and build upon a variety of those skills.

Pixler said a few of the 24 footstools were presented as gifts, and the remaining ones were sold through the Market 54 on Main outlet. His plan is to make about 20 more after the Christmas break. 

"We have sold out of the first production run of footstools," Pixler said. "We had them priced at $20 but the nostalgic value is priceless."

At the moment, Pixler said they are working on a set, or a limited number of sets of outdoor furniture made from the bleacher wood that could be sold in a raffle.

Hampton said she would make a Facebook post for Market 54 on Main once more footstools become available and that footstools will be sold on a first come basis with no holds.

Specialized gifts and unique displays help create an atmosphere at Market 54 on Main that seems to draw in customers, Hampton said.

“Both an old truck bed and boat are used for shelving,” Hampton said.”A set of original lockers out of an old school sits in one room while window awnings and chandeliers grace the walls and ceilings.”

Though some things have changed in the store since Hampton took over, she said Koehn’s ideas have made the store really special and people can count on seeing them in the future.

She said that the Market 54 that people know and love will stay but as things continue to grow and change, like the name, she plans to continue to bring in new and unique items, many with local connections that she hopes customers will love.