The Town of Vaiden has much to offer visitors and residents, but, sometimes, the things that make Vaiden an ideal place to live, own a business, and visit are overlooked.
There are people in Vaiden who are working to bring Vaiden to the forefront. The Welch family, in particular, is doing just that.
To open a business at a time where people are still finding their footing during a pandemic is ambitious. Opening two new businesses, even in the most stable economic times, is definitely challenging, but to open them simultaneously—well, that would seem a mammoth undertaking.
However, the Welch family proved anything is possible with a lot of hard work and a strong desire to improve their hometown.
Susan and Joey Welch and their children, Derek Welch and Whitney Welch Arrington, have opened two new businesses in Vaiden – Front Street Market and Vaiden Campground. Derek Welch is the proprietor of Front Street Market, and Arrington and her husband, Smiley, operate Vaiden Campground.
Now that Front Street Market is open, those in Vaiden will be able to purchase fresh food locally – something they haven’t been able to do for quite some time.
The campground will accommodate special events and large community gatherings. In addition, it will be a destination for visitors to Vaiden.
According to Derek Welch, the name Front Street Market was chosen because he originally wanted the market on Front Street, but when the COVID-19 pandemic happened, they moved the location of the store to Highway 35.
“We had been thinking about opening a little market for a couple of years due to the fact that we have no place to purchase fresh produce, meats, etc., and haven't for quite some time now. We had originally considered opening the market in a building we have downtown, on Front Street [Highway 51]. We began applying for tax numbers and our LLC during this time, in early 2020,” Derek Welch said. “Then, when the virus hit and everything was closed down for a while, we changed our mind about having it downtown.”
He said by developing the business on Highway 35 near I-55, it meant more customer traffic. It also was in close proximity to the family’s other businesses, Vaiden Campground and Whitney’s Boutique.
“We were able to purchase the building and begin the renovation process around the end of June,” Derek Welch said.
He said when they were deciding what products they would carry at the market, they wanted to offer fresh produce and quality meats. He said some of the things they offer are 100 percent Hereford beef steaks, hamburger patties, roasts, ribs, pork chops, Ahi tuna steaks, salmon, crab cakes, ready-to-cook dinners, frozen vegetables, casseroles, soups, gumbos, desserts, and more.
“We want our customers to be able to come in after work and be able to select items for a delicious, easy meal, complete with a yummy dessert,” he said.
Derek Welch said they don’t carry a lot of bulk items, but they can special order items requested by customers.
“We do carry some items in bulk such as chicken strips, fries, fish, hamburger meat, cooking oil, restaurant-size cans of vegetables, and we can definitely special order bulk items for our customers,” he said.
When asked what their best seller was so far, he said it was their crab cakes.
”The best seller is without a doubt the crab cakes. Other favorites are the shrimp gumbo, the Hereford filets, the Hereford hamburger patties, the autumn berry chicken salad, the jalapeno pimento and cheese, and the chicken and dumplings. We have been posting pictures on Facebook of what we have been cooking for our own dinners every evening, and this has created a lot of interest and sales,” he said.
Whitney Arrington said her father, Joey Welch, used to tell her stories about the heyday of the old KOA Campground. She said her husband, Smiley, who does work on natural gas lines, and his crew are always looking for places to hookup their RV’s while working. She thought reopening the KOA campsite was a great idea.
“I realized how many crews, hunters, and travelers come to this area and decided to check into it,” she said.
The old campground sits on 16th section land, owned by the Carroll County School District. After her parents received lease approval from the board, they were ready to move forward. Which was not the easiest thing in the pandemic.
“We weren't really able to start working on it until late June - early July. A lot of work was done in a short amount of time. It was completely grown up, so there was so much clearing, dozer work, and mowing done,” Arrington said. “The camp house that had burned down had to be removed and cleaned up. [That] is where our new pavilion sits now. Every single hookup had to be redone and replaced, and even though we are open, we still have so much work yet to complete to get it to where we would like it to be.”
Arrington said she had people wanting to visit even before their work was complete, and although they are still working on the renovations, the response has been positive. During the ribbon cutting on Tuesday, there were campers who were already on the grounds.
Arrington said she’s had people working in the area hitch their campers as well as those who just want a retreat with their family.
There’s already been a family reunion held under the pavilion.
“We have had lots of interest from the community, and all of the comments and reviews from the campers we have had so far have been great,” she said.
Arrington said there is still work to be done at the campground.
“We plan to add a volleyball/badminton court, a walking trail, a Frisbee golf course, and we hope to expand the playground,” she said. “We will be offering the pavilion to lease for day events such as birthday parties and family reunions.”
Arrington said she believes each her family’s new business as well as the newly-opened Majestic Salon in Vaiden will not only benefit the entire business community but provide needed services to residents of Vaiden and the surrounding area. Her brother agreed.
“We are lifelong residents of Vaiden, and we all support each other. We definitely believe [new business] will bring more people to Vaiden. Since being open, we have already had numerous customers daily from the surrounding areas, with repeat customers already. We are excited to be here and hope to serve our community well,” Derek Welch said.