New farmers market opens in downtown Grand Rapids


File photo.

The official opening of Grand Rapids’ newest indoor market welcomed 19 vendors and hundreds of patrons last Monday. The grand opening followed a soft opening and ribbon cutting ceremony the previous week when the public caught a first glimpse of the new facility.

A line of people waited to get into the market before opening and continued to stream in throughout the day.

“It has been a mess of people today. There was a current of people this morning that you could hardly get through,” said Nick Tefft from the vendor Spice Merchants.

“Today has exceeded our expectations,” a representative from Dorothy and Tony’s Gourmet Specialties added.

It cost $30 million and took 18 months of construction to complete the LEED-certified facility. The market is now home to a meat market, a fish market, bakeries, fresh produce vendors, restaurants and more.

The variety of vendors came as a surprise to Calvin Ali Carpenter. “I thought it would be more like a farmers market,” she said. “It is more like a lot of different stores put together.”

The market is, in fact, many stores from around West Michigan that have moved together. Dorothy and Tony’s Gourmet specialties moved from their location on Plainfield for the foot traffic that the aggregated market brings in. “We moved here for the venue and more exposure,” said their representative.

Exposure was something all the venues gained on Monday. Shelby Kibler, founder of Field & Fire, an artisan bakery, moved from Ann Arbor to Grand Rapids for the market. So far the move has been profitable. The bakers were up early making 400 croissants in anticipation of the opening. “We sold out of croissants at 10:45 this morning so Shelby went upstairs and made another batch and then sold out of those too,” said Julie Kibler, who was working the cash register.

Spice Merchants is a midwest franchise that was previously located in East Grand Rapids. In an interview, Nick Tefft said he hopes the momentum of the market will stay strong. “I think the market will be successful as long as there is good marketing and word of mouth,” he said.

The vendors weren’t the only ones to make the trek downtown for the market: patrons from all over West Michigan drove in for the opening. “The goal is that people will transition their day to day shopping here,” said Tefft. He thought this would be easy when people see the fresh, local and expert quality of the food.

In addition to vendors, the facility will also host cooking classes, kids camps and other programming throughout the year. The facility still has space for five more vendors and two restaurants, which will likely be filled in the coming months.

The indoor market will be open all year round from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday. It is located at 435 Ionia Ave. SW near the intersection of Wealthy and U.S. 131.