The new Walnut Bridge Market in downtown Chattanooga aims to be many things to many people.
Tourists can rent Segways, or two-wheeled motorized transporters, as well as tandem bikes and adult tricycles from the market at 204 Walnut St., — just two blocks down the street from the much-loved Walnut Street pedestrian bridge.
Downtown workers can pop in for locally-made sandwiches, free-trade coffee and bottled beer they can drink at tables outside.
And nearby residents now have a convenience store handy, since the market, which is on the first floor of the Walnut Commons Apartments building, sells staples including peanut butter, dog food and toilet paper.
"I would say that we are a number of things," store owner Dianna Ward said. "There is just really a little bit of a [food] desert on this side of the bridge."
This is Ward's fourth business that rents Segways and bicycles. She has others in Charlotte, N.C. (her home base), Greenville, S.C. and Kansas City, Mo.
Ward first visited Chattanooga a year ago, and she fell in love with it.
"I'd seen all the different magazines rating it very highly," she said. "It's a magical city."
She also likes the space she leased for the Walnut Bridge Market at Walnut Street and East Aquarium Way.
"This space just screamed: Invite people in," Ward said. "We're going to start hosting events. We want community groups to see this as a place to host their meetings."
Walnut Bridge Market is managed by Gus Pollock and his fiance Sandi Byrd, newcomers to Chattanooga who don't have to worry about their commute, since they live in the apartments upstairs.
"Chattanooga reminds me of all the places that I have lived and loved," Pollock said.
Bike — or take some other "alternative means of transportation" — to the new market, and you'll get 10 percent off.
"If you bike in, we will give a 10 percent discount, there's not a ton of parking there," said Ward, who supports bicycling and said she was invited by the city of Charlotte to be the executive director of the city's bike share program there, Charlotte B-cycle.
Walnut Bridge Market isn't the only business downtown to encourage alternative transportation, said Jonathan Gibbons, one of the coordinators for GreenTrips, a program of the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Agency that Gibbons said is designed to encourage more sustainable transportation and reduce traffic congestion.
"Many local retailers — like the Walnut Bridge Market and Five Bar (an upscale North Shore eatery that is one of our rewards partners) — are encouraging their patrons to take advantage of all the healthy and fun ways to get around our community," Gibbons said.
Contact staff writer Tim Omarzu at tomarzu @timesfreepress.com or www.facebook.com/MeetsForBusiness or twitter.com/meetfor business or 423-757-6651.