Grand Rapids Downtown Market Posts Double-Digit Sales Volume Increase for 2017

Posted on February 23, 2018 by Downtown Market

In anticipation of its upcoming fifth anniversary celebration, the Grand Rapids Downtown Market today announced a double-digit sales increase for 2017. Consumer confidence, commitment to local food and a robust shopping economy propelled tenant retail, wholesale, and catering sales at the Downtown Market to nearly $14 million during 2017, a 14 percent increase over 2016.

“Each day since the Market’s opening day has been a better day for the Downtown Market,” said Mimi Fritz, president and CEO of the Grand Rapids Downtown Market. “This growth and success comes from the talent, creativity, expertise, and top notch customer service of our talented Downtown Market tenants and entrepreneurs, who have found ways to create a better model for local food in our city and region, and from their customers who are learning to shop local for more and better food.”

To help account for this growth, the Downtown Market uses visitor data as a primary metric. During 2017, nearly one million (961,000) people visited the Downtown Market, for shopping, eating, events, classes, meetings and more.

"The Downtown Market's job-creation and small business development is scaling faster and providing more outcomes than anyone had imagined," said Kara Wood, City of Grand Rapids economic development director. "It is successfully spurring business, increasing desirability and expanding the city’s commercial boundaries.”

In addition to the success of the Market Hall as a destination for visitors, the Downtown Market’s Facility Rental program has seen significant growth during the past four years. The organization today hosts more than 400 private events each year, and is currently evaluating new space on the property to expand this popular program.

This volume of people has caused the new Market District of Downtown Grand Rapids to experience a commercial boom. Since the completion of the Downtown Market in 2013, multiple, formerly vacant warehouses have been redeveloped into apartments and additional retail. To assist with the growth of traffic in the region, the city of Grand Rapids developed a new surface parking lot across the street from the Market.

“The Downtown Market was a big factor in the New York Times’ designation of Grand Rapids as one of the best places to visit in 2016, and is a premier destination in our city,” said Doug Small, president of Experience Grand Rapids. “The Market has become a destination for locals as well as visitors, and continues to help us develop a strong narrative for our food and beverage culture and create character for this community.”

Since its inception in 2013, the Downtown Market ecosystem, including the 4,954 square foot incubator kitchen, has launched more than 85 businesses, created 500 jobs, and counseled more than 450 businesses. Service assistance is offered to food startups through support in areas such as licensing/labeling, scaling, distribution, customer service, marketing/social media, public relations, menu planning, merchandising, catering, revenue generation, and networking and educational opportunities. Six Market Hall tenants have expanded into second locations or opened a second business.

“The Downtown Market is a thriving marketplace that we wanted to be in,” Ty Nguyen, co-owner Pho616. “The Market is downtown with strong traffic and highly accessible to hungry office workers, and it’s been the perfect place to introduce our style of Vietnamese cuisine.”

As a result of the Market’s success, combined with strong profits and margins, the organization is currently studying areas for program expansion and growth potential. 

This comes at an opportune time. Starting in 2018, the Downtown Market will finalize the refinancing of a $4 million construction loan, which included the retirement of $1 million at the end of January, and the refinancing of $3 million held by the Michigan Strategic Fund. The refinancing of the $3 million loan balance will allow for the Market to focus on offering enhanced programs that support the growing wants and needs of the community, while continuing to make an even larger economic impact on the city of Grand Rapids.

The Downtown Market will celebrate its fifth anniversary in September with a week of festivities including special menu items, deals and a birthday party-themed outdoor event.