Six friends who wanted to give back to their community came together to create Etc. As a collective of artists themselves, they envisioned a lifeline for the DIY community and a safe space for them to bring art, expression, and connections to 1333 Grove St.
Mike Nardon, Ben Braxton, Matt Goshow, Jak Kerley, Yanni Xoinis, and Briana Strickland make up our Etc. Greensboro team.
When Mike first saw the empty building, he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do. “Originally he was thinking of a restaurant. Matt and I had a conversation in September about opening something like this, especially in a wake of a collective trauma that deeply impacted our world and community, but he felt apprehensive initially. After thinking it over and hearing the passion and creative visions that could be possible from that conversation, the idea grew into what it is becoming,” said Strickland.
Ralph’s Plant Shop joined the team on April 22nd, 2021 as an intimate and accessible plant shop for gardening needs and plant lovers. All plants are grown in house, and the shop is an offshoot of Ralph’s family’s plant shop, Soviero’s Tri-County Garden Center.
Etc.’s first market grand opening took place on April 25th, 2021, and second market on May 22nd, with a third market coming up June 20th between 12-5pm.
Attending the second market, approximately ten vendors showcased their handcrafted jewelry, stained glass, artwork, and vintage clothing that intrigued locals driving by to come in and meet the artists.
“We bring in a lot of local artists through our personal networking, and from there it’s based on word of mouth that escalated into this web of passionate people,” said Kerley.
Etc. has expressed future initiatives in the works for the summer that brings to life independent filmmakers in the area with movie nights, live concerts with local bands, and open mic nights for voices who deserve to be heard.
The team and I shared a moment of laughter and deep conversation about our favorite horror films since Jak and Yani, also known as Yaniboy are not only Etc.’s graphic designers, but both share a love for filmmaking and wanted to open the doors for others who share a similar drive.
“Glenwood is such a historical area that shares diversity amongst its people, so when Matt and Mike came up with the name, the group agreed and finalized. “I thought it was perfect, it encompassed what we are trying to do. It is about a community and free space that gives meaning to a variety of people doing a multitude of progessive things. I think everyone wanted to see that continue after COVID-19 hit,” said Braxton.
The team agreed that all their local artists are renowned, but one in particular stands out to them, the Crickets Boomerang Bookshop. “It is one of the coolest things I have seen since I’ve been in Greensboro. It incorporates education, knowledge, and is a black owned business shop on a bus. The beauty of art is that anything can be art,” said Strickland.
The team has strong involvement in activism work, and utilizes their resources and talents to send these messages across their community. “Activism is living in the truth, connecting with people, hearing different stories, being involved in lots of different ways — you can protest in a one on one conversation with someone, a real authentic conversation, and art contributes in ways we can’t describe but see for ourselves,” said Goshow.
Matt and Mike have been friends for over 15 years, “doing something together was inevitable,” said Nardone.
Strickland lastly noted, “This collective has been a dream in all our hearts for many years so I think that’s why it all came together and manifested in that way. I’ve personally been planning this kind of thing for several years and hoped to see it come to vision by the time I turned 35. The opportunity came sooner than I thought and in a different way than I expected, a way where I feel we are all creating as one.”
For more information about the Etc. team, and their numerous talents and achievements, Ralph’s Plant Shop, and upcoming market dates, check out their website: https://www.etcgso.com/team, Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/etc.gso, or Instagram: etc.gso.