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Creating a fresh community at the Downtown Market

The Downtown Market is bringing vibrancy to a dormant part of the downtown and creating a community through business, events and classes for all ages.
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Upcoming events at the Market


Tuesdays 8:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.

Thursdays 4:00 - 7:00 p.m. (Closed July 4)

Saturdays 8:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.


Fun, Run, Learn: Kids Day at the Market:  Tuesday, July 9 at 10:00 a.m.


Fruit Sweet Fruit with Chef Patrick McKay
Saturday, July 6 at 10:00 a.m.


Live Music with Valentiger
Thursday, July 11 from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.


Saturday, July 20 from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.


The brand new, not-even-fully-opened Downtown Market is planting the deep roots that are the key to building a strong community.

With a bustling line up of tenants for the approaching opening of the indoor portion of the market, and the growing clientele at the already open outdoor market, the Downtown Market is helping to bringing something fresh, new and fun to Grand Rapids.

Market-goers talk about the scene, the layout, the vendors and the energy of Grand Rapids' latest place to be.

“It’s been great to see people from all areas of the community come to celebrate what we are doing,” says Mimi Fritz, Downtown Market President/CEO. “After all, we are about building a vibrant and exciting atmosphere while encouraging a healthy community. What better place to do that than right in downtown Grand Rapids?”

The Downtown Market is working to become a place where people center their days. Shopping, dining, get-togethers, celebrations and more are on the list of things to do.

Located at the crux of three neighborhoods, the Downtown Market has kicked off events that hope to lead the area towards a new “Market District.” With the renovations of the Baker Furniture Building into apartments, and the future Klingman’s Furniture building following suit, almost 200 residential units will be directly across the street from the market.

In talking to neighboring business owners, there seems to be a common goal of the creation of a Market District. Fritz understands that it is important for everyone to be on the same page in moving a community forward.

“If you head down to the market today, you’ll definitely run into road construction. But that’s a good thing,” says Fritz.

Why? Because the DDA and MDOT are building the infrastructure that it takes to create a welcoming place. New sidewalks are going in, utilities are going underground and decorative light poles, trash receptacles and landscaping are soon to follow. All in an effort to make the market a walkable place.

With only the Outdoor Market currently open, the market staff has created a series of community activities and events that are free and open to the public, all in an effort to create a sense of place.

Events take place on market days, in the open air of the first floor terrace, and add to the colorful and vibrant atmosphere of the neighborhood.

On any Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday, you will find up to 80 outdoor market vendors selling everything from ice cream to barbeque. One of the most well-attended days is Saturdays, where one of the area's local chefs will cook their favorite dishes, giving away hints, tips and recipes.

“Everyone talks, watches, asks questions. It’s just fun,” says Claire Duthler, outdoor market and events manager. The event, called Chefs at the Market, occurs every Saturday at 10:00 a.m.


“Building on a flirty tradition of picking produce with the person you’re into, we’re putting on a fresh scene with live music, cool food, fresh local stuff and a good vibe,” says Hanna Schulze, Downtown Market Event Assistant.

Schulze has helped create “Date Night at the Market,” a lively Thursday night get-together that centers around an outdoor farmers market. The Market itself is open from 4-7pm, and music and dancing kick in at 5pm.

“By the time you get off work and come straight to the market, we have a nice little scene going on,” says Schulze. “We encourage the community to show up and enjoy themselves, and leave with a little, or a lot, fresh food.”

To add to the flavor of the evening and the area, the market has also incorporated food trucks into the event. Two regulars that can be found are Deutchman’s Bavarian Barbeque and Spoonlicker’s handcrafted frozen yogurt, which is made daily.

“It’s so fun that Thursday starts to feel a little bit like Saturday,” laughs Schulze.


The market offers parents the opportunity to not be the only ones talking to kids about eating right and getting exercise outside.

“[We’re] doing it,” says Duthler of the health education effort, “and we make it fun. Kids won’t even know what’s happening. Think Stealth Health.”

Getting kids involved in activities that promote heath, wellness, healthy eating, exercise and the importance of local and community, can be difficult to do. Every Tuesday from 10:00 a.m. to noon until the end of August, the market is all about kids.  While taking part in the free weekly “Kids at the Market” events, kids make snacks, plant seeds, sing, dance, engage with interactive stories, create market art, learn about Michigan’s wildlife and watch bees make honey.

“Think of us as the health plug-in for parents tired of living in a junk food world,” says Duthler.


“From the beginning, we’ve wanted this to be a huge positive for Grand Rapids and West Michigan,” Fritz says. “We’re already seeing familiar faces, getting to know our neighbors and feeling welcomed into the Grand Rapids downtown community.”

Last week the market announced a partnership with Mel Trotter Ministries, DéGagé Ministries, Guiding Light Mission and God’s Kitchen, which provides easy access to fresh, healthy and local foods. Market-goers can come to the market on any market day, purchase something fresh, and drop it off at the food donation truck that is at the market.

“We’re a part of the neighborhood. It’s our responsibility to help our neighbors,” says Fritz.

The staff feels that all of these efforts are a pretty good start for a market that technically is only partially open. But everyone, including the staff, the vendors, the tenants and the community, are pretty eager for the day when the inside of the Grand Rapids Downtown Market opens for business.

When it is all said and done, the Downtown Market will be home to classes, events, start-up businesses, restaurants, offices, a greenhouse and both an indoor and outdoor market.

"It’s actually a community within a community," says Fritz. “We’re creating a place where we are sure people will not only want to be, but a place people feel they just have to be.”

If you want to keep up on the Market, keep an eye on their Facebook page.

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