LANSING, Mich. — A thriving economy brings in all sorts of development, and the City of Portland is no stranger to that with expansive growth over the past five years. Most notably, there has been development outside the historic downtown area—Olivera’s, McDonalds, Portland School Apartments, Conflux City Brewing Company, Muffler Man, The Brook Retirement Community, with Taco Bell and Sparrow Medical Center coming soon. Now, Portland’s Downtown Development Authority is giving a leg up to new retail businesses with 2Rivers Marketplace, a retail incubator with a beginning focus on “farm market” type products. “This is exactly the kind of project our DDA is proud to invest in . . . it’s at the heart and soul of our mission”, stated Cory Grimminck, DDA Board Chair, “and the foodie in me is beyond excited!”
This new development comes after more than a year of research into what the community most needed. “As we saw that spaces in our historic downtown had potential openings, we investigated the gaps in what wasn’t available in Portland”, said DDA Director Tina ConnerWellman, “From there, we reached out to our residents and businesses and asked what they shopped for in stores outside of Portland. What would they like to see close to home and would support by taking time to visit on a regular basis?”
There are three businesses participating in the opening. Dancing Goat Creamery features artisanal goat and cow cheeses, gelato, farm fresh eggs, caramel and maple syrup. OM’s Garden brings a luxury line of pure, organic products for your bath, body and home. Thomas’s Natural Roots offers spice blends and mixes, plants, home décor and helpful natural product salves & rubs. All are family owned and operated locally.
The goals of 2Rivers Marketplace Center are to enhance Portland’s entrepreneurial climate, grow and retain businesses in Portland, and to diversify the economy. ConnerWellman stated, “I see this as a place for highly motivated entrepreneurs to refine their retail skills relatively quickly, and to outgrow the shared space to expand sustainably on their own”. Part of the overall idea is that by creating opportunities for emerging, interesting businesses to have easy entry into a high-profile downtown area, they will in turn, increase foot traffic and reinvigorate the historic commercial landscape.
Mayor James Barnes who serves on the DDA Board is, “excited that we have viable businesses who’ve selected Portland as a place to grow.”
There is space to bring in up to three additional businesses who are ready to test their products in a storefront setting. Guidelines, criteria and applications will be made available online at miportland.org by the end of November. The DDA’s research shows people in the area would welcome home decor, craft supplies, repurposed items, cards & gifts, clothing and accessories that might include a gently used or resale boutique.
“Portland Downtown Development Authority has invested countless hours into developing this non-profit space designed to nurture developing businesses, helping them to survive and grow during critical phases,” said Tutt Gorman, City Manager.
Business owners are working hard to bring you a welcoming destination with unique local products.
April Vogl, owner-operator of OM’s Garden stated, “this is an amazing opportunity and wonderful stepping stone to one day opening my own storefront.”
“It’ll be great to have a permanent location in a community that has opened its arms to us in this way. We’re excited to offer our products on a more permanent basis”, said Kevin and Tammy Thomas of Thomas’s Natural Roots
Amanda Ferris with Dancing Goat Creamery is, “looking forward to partnering with other local businesses to bring a nice variety of products to Portland and its surrounding communities. It’s closer to home and I appreciate the opportunity”, she said.
The new store hours are reflective of what the community shared about their shopping habits: Wednesdays & Thursdays 11am – 7:30pm, Fridays 8am – 2pm, and Saturdays and Sundays 10am – 4pm. As the store becomes established, the hours may be adjusted and expanded on.
After working out the kinks with family and friends, the businesses will be ready to fully welcome everyone on Wednesday November 18 with their regular hours
. If you see them open before the 18th, they do welcome you to stop in and shop. Their Grand Opening will be in conjunction with Portland’s Small Business Saturday (the Saturday before Thanksgiving) on November 21, 2020.
You can find more about 2Rivers Marketplace at 2riversmarket.com, or like them on Facebook for regular information and updates.
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