To Market! To Market!



The first day of summer proved a perfect day for the much-anticipated grand opening of the Flint Famers’ Market. The longest day of the year was warm and sunny as thousands upon thousands of people gathered from all across the state to enjoy the Market at its new Downtown location. My son Matt and granddaughter Gianna were in town for a visit and we had a cookout planned for that evening, so we decided to check out the Market for some fresh produce.

The crowd at the Grand Opening was beyond expectation. With 700 parking spaces available, we still had to park a distance away, but the sun was shining and we had our walking shoes on. As we headed into the market, it was wall-to wall-people. We started at the gate where the outdoor vendors were located. Our first purchase was a dozen ears of sweet corn. Some of the vendors had already sold out and it was only 12 noon, but we found some luscious Michigan strawberries and asparagus. market2

We finally made our way through the crowd to the indoor market. The first vendor we saw was Beirut Restaurant, where a huge line of customers waited to try some authentic Middle-Eastern food. “It’s been great!” Sam Jawhari, owner of the restaurant, exclaimed. “We haven’t stopped since we opened today at 8am.” Our next stop was Hoffman’s Chop Shop, where my son purchased some rib eye steaks and hamburger. Mark Hoffman said they are brand new to the Market and he was totally surprised by the crowd on opening day. “It’s absolutely outstanding,” he said with a smile. Alex, the retail manager at Crust Bakery, said they were sold out by 10:30am. “We could have tripled our order today!” she exclaimed. Great Harvest Bread Company, the other new bakery in the market, had to bring in more baked goods, according to Paige, a staff member. Owner Scott Sassack was really excited about the turnout. “We knew the numbers would be big, but this exceeded our expectations,” he said. In addition to new vendors, there were also many new restaurants, and the aroma of sizzling barbecue made us increasingly hungry as we wandered from stall to stall.

We headed home from the market laden with fresh produce and hungry bellies, ready to relish our purchases. While I certainly enjoyed the new Market on opening day, I’m looking forward to my next visit and a slightly smaller crowd so I can take the time to savor all it has to offer!


How did Uptown Reinvestment Corp. get involved in the Farmers’ Market move?
The Uptown Reinvestment Corporation took over management of the Flint Market about 12 years ago when the city was going to close it. Since then, the URC has invested in management and programs to turn it into one of the premiere farmers’ markets in Southeast Michigan with an annual visitation of over 250,000 people.market3

Why did the market need to move?
The Market was at capacity in its previous location, with no room for additional inside vendors. In addition to its location in an area of the city that was landlocked and a little hidden, the market also needed major renovations to bring it into code compliance with life and food safety standards and physical accessibility.

When did you realize that The Flint Journal building would be the perfect new location?
When the 2000 Sasaki Master Plan for Downtown Flint called for relocating the Market, the current Market was not bursting at the seams, nor had its physical condition been surveyed. It was not until the renovation plans for the existing location were fleshed out that we realized that the old building was not a highly-functional space. We saw that the former Flint Journal press facility presented an opportunity to get much more bang for our buck.

Is there room for the Market to grow Downtown?
We have leased nearly all of the interior vendor space; however, there is room for growth both in the atrium, which is prepared to handle 15 additional vendors should we choose to expand, and on the South side of the site, where we could create a market commons building in the future.

market4How does this move benefit the city?
Having the Market in Downtown’s central business district will allow more of the office workers to supplement or even replace the grocery store for their regular shopping needs. However, the new Market is not just a market: it houses several key food-related entities all under one roof, including the market space, a demonstration kitchen to showcase local chefs, a community room open for rental, a wash-and-pack station, and Flint Food Works. Flint Food Works has two incubator kitchens designed to provide a venue for farmers to can fresh produce and for farmers and community members to team up and create locally grown secondary products like jams, pasties, breads, pies, and BBQ sauce that can be sold anywhere from the market to online to your local grocery store.

Finally, the relocation supports our goal to create a Health and Wellness District in conjunction with MSU’s new College of Human Medicine building and with the new Genesys Pace Center. Hopefully, this move will encourage other health related businesses to locate Downtown and be a part of the city’s future.

Do you shop at the Farmers’ Market?
Yes, I do shop at the Market; my kids love the experience of eating all of the fresh food onsite, and of course the cheese curds!


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