If the Downtown Market’s official grand opening Sept. 2, is a leading indicator of things to come, the future looks very bright indeed for the brand new $30 million facility that attracted an amazing number of Labor Day visitors.
Live music and great aromas greeted a steady, daylong flow of an estimated 30,000 men, women and children, who browsed store offerings, tasted free samples, cheerily chatted with one another and leisurely shopped at the spacious 435 Ionia Ave. SW Downtown Market.
One very satisfied shopper was Adrian den Boer. Satisfied with the “competitive prices” as he walked away from Fish Lads clutching a bag of Columbia River salmon and scallops, he said his catch would be incorporated into a Labor Day barbecue.
The Downtown Market is giving people yet one more compelling reason to visit downtown. This foodie paradise here is generating buzz locally and nationally since its opening in late August. It will also likely draw visitors from far beyond the city limits to the suburbs.
While there’s plenty of parking within walking distance, there is also a bus stop just a block away offering another option for getting there. People visiting the market Monday found parking in the on-site lot, as well as street parking and parking ramps on Cherry Street.
And there are many reasons to like the market.
The Downtown Market’s presence helps expand the downtown area as development continues to progress along South Division Avenue and Wealthy Street. Some of the projects include Baker Lofts, the Dwelling Place’s newly remodeled Herkimer Apartments and UPrep Academy.
The Market also encourages the Farm-to-Table movement, and takes the Grand Rapids local food scene to a new level. All told, the indoor food pavilion is well on its way to having 24 vendors eventually, with 19 vendors signed up so far who are selling a wide variety of items.
However, the Market’s presence does not resolve the “food desert” issue in this urban neighborhood. Gourmet chocolate, cheese and coffee are not for the shopper on a tight budget. That’s why a still-missing, vital ingredient is a neighborhood grocery store for this downtown area, although the Market’s outdoor farmer’s market does offer a seasonal resource of fresh vegetables.
The Market also provides a unique venue for seasoned as well as novice shop owners.
It is designed to be a supportive location for people just starting out and launching new experiments.The mixture of experienced artisans located directly next to entrepreneurs creates a community of support and an ecosystem for creating new products, said Mimi Fritz, president and CEO of the market.
The new Market, residential areas and Academy are exciting developments individually, but these improvements combined bring an exciting new vitality to and will spur even more growth in our downtown.
The Grand Rapids Press