Farmer Hardin, Investors Open Argenta Market in Downtown NLR

by Kate Knable  on Monday, May. 31, 2010 12:00 am  

Argenta Market
Paul Esterer, John Gaudin, Jack Grundfest, Jody Hardin, Harold Tenenbaum, Tracy Windham
521 Main St., North Little Rock 72114
(501) 379-9980
7 a.m.-7 p.m. Mon.-Sat., closed Sun.
April 15, 2010

Jody Hardin is striving to create a vibrant fresh food market in downtown North Little Rock.

Hardin, who raises beefalo (a cross between bison and cattle) and other livestock on his farm in Grady, partnered with area farmers to start the Certified Farmers Market in North Little Rock, but wanted to do more than sell farm-fresh food on Saturdays.

His way to bring fresh food from his and other area farms daily to North Little Rock is his new grocery store, Argenta Market. The store sells locally raised meat, dairy products, seasonal produce, Arkansas-made wines and prepared foods, as well as baked goods prepared fresh daily. Argenta Market has an in-house chef who selects many of the store's local offerings and prepares the foods sold at the deli and entrees to go.

Hardin, 42, was frustrated with the small size of a store he had started at Little Rock's River Market, so he closed that business, Hardin's River Mercantile, to start afresh with the full-service grocery in North Little Rock's downtown.

There "was no access to fresh food in the downtown community" in North Little Rock, Hardin said, and he spied the opportunity to start "a full-service grocery that has a focus on local and seasonal foods."

To finance the grocery store, Hardin recruited local investors. The Argenta Market's main investors - Paul Esterer, John Gaudin, Jack Grundfest, Harold Tenenbaum and Tracy Windham - helped Hardin raise the $997,000 they used not only to start the grocery store, but also to prepare for three years of carefully establishing the business.



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