Small Business Art From the Heart: Citizen Exchange


A former world traveler and executive for a Global Mission agency, Amy Valdez Barker suddenly found herself unemployed and short on hope amidst the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. Amy had always been inspired by art and found it to be therapeutic, comforting and inspiring. 

It was these elements that motivated her to take a leap of faith and open a new business — Citizen Exchange.

Citizen Exchange is an art collective located in Old Town Lilburn where you will find local, handmade art from over 50 artists. These talented contributors create items like pottery, jewelry, quilts, paintings, woodwork and so much more. But Citizen Exchange is about more than just creative goods.

“We strive to offer hope through art from the heart that helps us begin to see how interconnected we are as a community,” said Amy. “This vision of community through art was inspired by the Ubuntu story of children locking arms as they pursued a gift, ensuring that everyone in their community would receive that gift and prosper together. It’s about helping people see these connections through art in a way that moves them from the attitude of ‘I AM’ to ‘WE ARE.'”

Outside of their storefront, located at 79 Main Street in Lilburn, you can find Citizen Exchange at many local businesses and community events. Megan Flowers, Director of Arts, has been a significant partner in the community outreach efforts for Citizen Exchange. She has recruited numerous artists to the business and helped create classes and event participation in Lilburn. The team has partnered with Music On Main who offer incredible live music in Lilburn, Arts Alive as they bring the performing arts of drama and dance into Old Town Lilburn, as well as partnerships with Salon Nine Seven, Agavero Bus, Old Town Antiques, Hope Springs Distillery and 1910 Public House. 

Through Citizen Exchange, Amy and her team have not only restored their own hope but have inspired countless artists, businesses and community members to harness their own creative power and work together to build a more connected community. 

Visit Citizen Exchange online at to shop and view a list of upcoming events.