The Lemon Fair’s New Story
by Bailey Basham, Messenger Staff Writer
A beloved Sewanee fixture is under new ownership as of June 2021.
The Lemon Fair, which has been owned by the Alvarez-Evans family since the 1970s, was purchased by realtor and investor Andrea Woodard-Evans and her husband, Scott, who graduated from the University in 1998.
“My husband and I had been looking for a spot on the Mountain to invest, and when we saw The Lemon Fair hit the market by our dear friends at Village Real Estate, we called immediately,” Woodard-Evans said.
Woodard-Evans said purchasing The Lemon Fair only made sense for her and her family — not only because she and her husband had long been looking to own their own piece of the Mountain but because of a generations-old family story.
“I was extremely close with my grandfather, and when I was growing up, he had an expansive garden in his California backyard where he was known for cross-pollinating his lemons and oranges. Our family has a great affinity to lemons because of this legend he left behind, and anytime we see lemons, we think of him, all his big stories he told, his generous, giant heart and the lessons he taught us. It felt like a wink from my Papa to take a chance and invest in The Lemon Fair. Add to that my husband being an alum, our routine family visits, and simply the magic of the Mountain, everything about it felt meant to be,” she said.
Katherine Evans, daughter of the store’s original owner Gay Alvarez, took over the shop after her mother’s passing five years ago. She said she had the intention of bringing the store back to life following her mom’s illness, and for the last several years, she has done just that. But due to COVID, she had to reevaluate her plans.
“The Lemon Fair was my first job and because I’d grown up with the business and run Stirling’s Coffee House for nearly 20 years, I felt uniquely qualified to grow a small business in this particular small town,” she said. “I had more of an eight to 10 year plan in mind. But when Covid hit and I realized I couldn’t do the post-holiday, slow-season winter travel that I’d become accustomed to, I decided to spend the time getting the store ready to sell.”
Evans said that she hopes to see the Sewanee institution her mom created continue to flourish.
“For me, this is a continuation of The Lemon Fair’s story, just with a new perspective. I think we were lucky to find buyers with an appreciation of the store’s traditions and an eye to the future, and I’m excited to see what happens next,” Evans said.
Zory Deering, who has worked at The Lemon Fair for nearly seven years, will remain on staff with the store.
Woodard-Evans added that the Sewanee Angels and other Sewanee souvenirs will always be available in the shop, but that she and husband Scott intend to add more apparel, jewelry, gift and entertainment pieces and plenty of holiday items.
“We love the charm and artistry that The Lemon Fair has always been known for, and that is something we would not dream of changing,” Woodard-Evans said. “There is just something special about the Mountain that draws you in and takes root into your soul. It truly is a magical place, and we feel lucky to be able to grow with and contribute to the Sewanee community.”