Downtown Macon general store opening for pets, plants, people


Liz Fabian

The Per Diem Market opening at 455 Poplar St. this spring is named for the Latin phrase meaning “for each day.”

When he was a teenager, Jeremy Smith swept floors in his father’s feed store in McDonough.

The 32-year-old, who grew up on a Butts County dairy farm, now spends his days working on a new general store on Poplar Street in downtown Macon.

Smith and his partner Whitney Boyer, who owns the Reboot Retrocade & Bar that he manages at 566 Cherry St., are opening Per Diem Market this spring in the former Ocmulgee Traders location at 455 Poplar Street.

“We’re really trying to cater to that walk-in market. We want to be a daily stop,” Boyer said.

The business’s Latin name, Per Diem, means “for each day.”

The split-level, two-story business in the back of the Dannenburg Lofts at the corner of Third Street will sell grab-and-go meals and take-and-make meal kits in the kitchen area upstairs.

Smith said they will be offering farm fresh ingredients and locally sourced foods when available.

The store’s website mentions the founder of the old Roasted Café & Lounge on Second Street, Nick Rizkalla, is collaborating on the hand crafted sandwiches, wraps and salads.

“We’ll be bringing back some Roasted favorites,” said Boyer, who met Rizkalla when she was earning her engineering degree from Mercer University. “We’re trying to partner with a lot of local businesses.”

New lettering over the door touts pets, plants and provisions.

In addition to some grocery and personal care items, they will carry specialty pet foods. They already have a built-in clientele.

“In the 64 units above us there are 50 pets,” Boyer said.

One of her friends living on the third floor inspired the plant portion of the business.

The woman needed a handful of dirt for a potted plant and didn’t want to buy a large bag of planting material. She borrowed a baggie of soil from the couple’s yard on Washington Avenue, where they are restoring an historic home.

Boyer and Smith will sell flats of plants as well as individual varieties that can be potted in-house for custom container gardens.

Downstairs also will feature grocery staples such as bread, milk and eggs.

The couple saw the need for a downtown market where you can pick up a few items without having to crank up the car.

NewTown Macon CEO Josh Rogers strolled past the building Tuesday.

“I think they’re going to do great,” Rogers said.

Not only will they cater to downtown residents and workers, Smith hopes to lure those passing through downtown to duck in and grab something to eat with their five-minute lunch concept.

“I have a background in trucking and we have employees coming through (downtown) but they still have a way to go to get provisions,” Smith said.

Boyer noted that there are usually plenty of places to park near the store.

“We have great parking right now, here, because there aren’t many places open during the day,” she said.

Per Diem Market will be open from 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 12 – 6 p.m. on Sunday.

They will focus on sustainable products, biodegradable packaging and offer coffee discounts for those who bring their own containers.

Counters from Boyer’s great-uncle’s old general store in Linton are being repurposed to enhance the nostalgic atmosphere.

“It’s really a turn-of-the century, small, downtown general store,” Smith said. “We like to say, ‘old-fashioned service with modern convenience.’”

Once the store opens, hopefully in time for the Cherry Blossom Festival at the end of March, the couple will likely be looking for another future business opportunity, they said.

“In downtown since I’ve been here, it’s been an explosion and now we’re part of it,” Smith said.

Contact Civic Reporting Senior Fellow Liz Fabian at 478-301-2976 or [email protected].