Sneaking Up On Shorty's: Previewing Lexington's New Urban Market

[nggallery id=37] Lucky me! The kind staff (or volunteers, or family members pressed into service) at Shorty's Urban Market waved me inside this morning. They could have left me outside in the clear chilly morning, nose pressed to glass, longing to see what this brand new downtown grocery, Lexington's first in more than a decade, has to offer.

Patrons headed to the Lexington Farmers Market half a block away checked out Shorty's and told each other happy stories:

"They want to know what we really want them to carry!"

"There will be a website and ways to make suggestions."

"They have something for everybody."

"They are opening tomorrow!"

"They have fresh produce."

"I said I like organic fruit and they called the produce person over and said, 'Another one wants organic.'"

"It's exactly the same distance from my house as Kroger."

"This is just so exciting."

We will see. But today, one day before it opens, Shorty's Urban Market, at 163 W. Short Street in downtown Lexington, made a lot of downtowners giddy at the prospect of shopping near home, even on foot. I was rushing to meet friends at the Lexington Farmers Market, and so have only quick impressions to share.

  • The place is huge, much larger than it seems from the street.
  • The main look: Handsome. It's a well-done renovation with well-chosen fittings. Think "Keeneland goes to town."
  • The food offerings seem intended to please several different shopper preferences: Packaged and Quick, Leaning Toward Foodie, and Just Gimme a Sandwich came to mind first. So smart, since there are multiple cultures intersecting in our active downtown.
  • The few prices I glimpsed seemed about average.
  • It's not a local-centric place, though there are some foods from Kentucky in the store. We can hope, and request, and perhaps Shorty's will become a destination for people who cook with local ingredients.

According to one of the people busily loading shelves today, starting on May 1, Shorty's will be open seven days a week. I don't know the store hours. I do know the feeling in the place today was positive and promising.


I have a recurring dream in which a familiar house turns out to have new rooms to explore and enjoy. Shorty's Urban Market today had that quality. Quite literally, the store keeps opening into surprising new spaces as one moves back through it. And to be a bit more metaphorical, living in downtown Lexington has this quality often now, when places lots of us downtowners have almost given up imagining, like Shorty's Urban Market, surprise us by showing up in our wide awake lives.

Shorty's place is packed with so many foods and household essentials one keeps discovering new categories. When I returned to the store for the (crowded, buzzing) pre-opening celebration and ribbon cutting this afternoon, I took more time to look for items that normally send someone from my house to a mainstream grocery store: dishwasher and dish detergents? Check. Toilet paper? Right there. I tried to get clearer about with hundreds of jars and packages filled with the exotic and the instant. It's possible--I think it's so--that one's choices of potatoes range from boxed/instant to fresh purple fingerling, for example.

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