The Rapidian

Bridge Street Market, the new market for everyone

It's with great excitement to announce that the Bridge Street Market held its grand opening on Wednesday, August 29 in the Westside. The wait has been long for residents who witnessed the land remain abandoned after the Moctezuma store closed its doors.
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Opening of the Bridge Street Market

Opening of the Bridge Street Market /Paola Mendivil

Leer este artículo en español | Read this article in Spanish

 

It was a sunny summer afternoon, my mom, sister and I walked down Bridge Street all the way to the Stocking and visited for the first time the Moctezuma Store, one of the few Mexican groceries stores back in 2005. Some people at church had recommended it to us since we have just arrived in Grand Rapids and missed our Mexican products. I remember that the store was big, and we found some of our favorite brands that made us feel closer to our country that we missed so much. My mom met one of the cashiers and immediately started a friendship with Mrs. Martita, who had a reputation for being very kind and helpful to customers. She told my mom that her husband, Don Hector, had a tamale stand right outside the store and had a good clientele. Growing up in a modest neighborhood in Mexico City, I was used to that type of businesses. All that view made me see something familiar with my new city.

No doubt the city and the Westside have changed since I arrived in 2005. First the recession that unfortunately caused the closing of several small businesses. Then, came the hope of revitalization as investors saw the potential of this main avenue and embarked on new construction, housing developments and other projects, including the demolition of the building that had remained vacant since the Moctezuma Store closed in 2008. Now, a decade later, residents have a new market in the neighborhood!

It is with great excitement to announce that the Bridge Street Market held its grand opening on Wednesday, August 29, 2018 in the Westside. The wait was long for residents of the area who witnessed the great transformation of the land that remained abandoned after the Moctezuma store closed its doors ten years ago; the other parcels on the block were also in poor condition. After two years of construction, the store is finally open to the public and hundreds of residents and other members of the community gathered to celebrate the official ribbon cutting with many local media present. The ceremony began with a welcome from Ken Bair, the store manager, who then invited Hank Meijer, Meijer's co-chairman, who oversaw the project from the beginning. The executive recalled the humble beginnings of the founder of the super market chain that, for nearly a century, has grown and changed the history of grocery stores in western Michigan and Ohio. However, this branch is a new concept, it does not even have a Meijer store sign or logo, and it’s one of the first of its kind that promises to always be offering good quality products at a low cost. The ceremony also included words from Mayor Bliss who congratulated all involved for their effort since this project was carried out due to the great demand from near-by residents to have access to fresh fruits and vegetables in the area without having to leave the neighborhood.

The acknowledgments concluded with words from Guillermo Cisneros, executive director of the West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, who emphasized the project's efforts to boost not only the local economy with employment opportunities, but also the growth of Hispanic businesses, such is the case of Mr. Marco Burnes, owner of Mayan Buzz Café, who also celebrated the opening of his new cafe inside the market; his other location is on Grandville Avenue near Founder's Brewery.

During the day, hundreds visited the store to explore the product line, enjoyed a coffee, or even had lunch inside the supermarket where they offered free samples of donuts, salads, fruit and cookies; they also have a sushi bar. Attendees had the opportunity to take a souvenir photo about the celebration.

The energy was incredible during the opening! It is a very open and spacious store that has a great selection of local beer, spirits and wine. The produce area is impressive as well. Around the walls there are refrigerators that have basic foods such as milk, eggs, yogurt, but also have a variety of individually-packed lunches. One can find bread, cereal, toiletries, household cleaning items, pet food and baby essentials. The market does not have clothing, shoes, sport goods or electronics; however, they do carry Meijer brand products like those found at the main retailer.

During the inauguration, some local business owners were present such as Mercedes Lopez from El Granjero Mexican Grill and Luis Ramirez from Maggies Kitchen, former owner of Moctezuma Store, who did some shopping while enjoying music by Gabriel Estrada who sang during the opening of Mayan Buzz Café in the presence of the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce. Some attendees asked the entrepreneurs if they felt that this market was going to take away business from their restaurants. Both expressed that they did not feel like competition in any way, that they believe the market is something very unique in the neighborhood that will support the economic growth of the area with jobs for residents and convenience for the everyday consumer. The owner of Margo's Bakery, José M. Solís, also expressed that he did not see it as a competition for his small bakery across the street that he has managed for around nine years and that specializes in Guatemalan and Latin American sweet bread, although he also offers some canned products and tortillas. However, Mr. José also hopes that his customers will continue to support him so that he doesn’t have to close his business in the future.

Personally, I am amazed by such a beautiful building intended to bring a sense of community and that focuses on the needs of the neighborhood. At the opening, the Meijer company made four $5,000 gifts to different nonprofit organizations in this area including the Westside Collaborative and The Other Way Ministries as part of their commitment to growing resources for the residents served by these important institutions.

I extend a cordial invitation to everyone to visit and see how you can feel comfortable shopping here. Some employees are bilingual, and the staff strives to be friendly and helpful; especially at the cash registers since they have self-check-out. You might not find all the brands or products you usually get, and you can also continue to support Hispanic-owned stores in the area such as the National Supermarket of Fulton and Lane or the Michoacán Supermarket in Leonard. The important thing is to know that this store is also part of the neighborhood and the purpose is to make all residents feel welcome and worthy of a friendly service and good deals for grocery-shopping; whether they come get something quick, meet with friends over coffee or do their weekly grocery shopping trip. Do not think that the building is intimidating, take advantage of the large covered parking in the back, which is free. I encourage my neighbors to come check it out. This is our Bridge market and they take pride in being here because we do belong in a beautiful space full of good-quality products. They are glad to be in the Westside, best side!

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