Bedrock Detroit and Quicken Loans revive the successful Winter Markets for a new season.
By Arianna Smith
Those who attended the Winter Blast fest in January may remember the Winter Markets at Campus Martius — a whimsical shopping experience created by Bedrock Detroit, Quicken Loans and the Downtown Detroit Partnership that showcased local vendors and allowed visitors to sample and buy unique products.
Due to popular demand and increased interest from vendors, the markets are returning for the spring and summer seasons. The spring version will feature an expanded variety of shops and businesses (of which over half are owned by minority women), as well as new attractions like beer gardens and the Quicken Loans Sports Zone at Cadillac Park, complete with a fully furnished, multi-hoop basketball court.
The second phase will be announced mid-summer and will add more new vendors and attractions.
“We really wanted to improve on the suggestions we received from customers and vendors on the Winter Markets in January,” says Francesca George, director of tenant relations and experience for Bedrock Detroit. “With these markets, we really wanted to create something like a summer oasis — something that would make a day in Detroit feel like a fun adventure.”
One noticeable change about the spring and summer markets is the space. Whereas the Winter Markets were at Cadillac Square and Capitol Park, the spring and summer versions have spread to other areas such as an incubation space for startups at 1441 Woodward Collective.
“We might also be extending into other areas. Spirit Plaza is on the list for possible future venues to be added,” George says.
According to George, the focus this season will be on more food and beverage outlets for customers, specifically in Cadillac Square. There will be a rotating menu of food trucks and trolleys and plans are in the works for a pop-up restaurant that will showcase dishes from local and international chefs, as well as an open-air style bar in Capitol Park that, pending city approval, may be crafted from a re-purposed shipping container.
Similar to the Winter Markets, registered vendors are housed in attractive glass structures lining easily walkable avenues, free to engage with customers and interested visitors. Most of the spring and summer market vendors are new to the experience this season.
“We’re excited for this opportunity because we know that we’ll get a ton more eyeballs and interest in our products,” says Bethany Shorb, owner of Well Done Goods, a clothing store on Gratiot Avenue that specializes in accessories with Detroit-positive messages.
Shorb started her business 13 years ago as an online retailer and opened her first brick-and-mortar location across from Eastern Market in 2016.
“Things like these markets are great for small businesses,” Shorb says. “It keeps retail independent and helps the little guys, the up-and-coming places, from being pushed out or overshadowed, because people know you and they know your product is quality.”
Shops range from clothing and accessory creators like Well Done Goods, Ashley Gold and Flamingo Vintage to food companies like Detroit Dough, le Detroit macaroon and Motor City Popcorn, which is owned by Ronier Golightly.
Golightly, who applied for a spot with the Winter Markets and was accepted for the spring phase, says the inspiration for his business came when he noticed how popular the concept of gourmet popcorn was with tourists in Chicago.
“I saw how everyone was going crazy for it there. Friends would leave Detroit and come back raving about another city’s popcorn, so I thought, ‘Why can’t a Detroit brand do the same thing?’ ” Golightly says. “I want my popcorn to become an iconic thing, something that people have to do before they leave. I want them to be able to take a piece of the city home with them.”
Golightly says he believes the markets should be an annual city tradition.
“It’s a way to test your product, and to test yourself as a business owner,” Golightly says. “For some people, it can be the big break and public exposure they need.”
Phase one opened to the public May 24 with 30 vendors ready to meet and connect with visitors to Downtown Detroit. The markets end Sept. 9.
Visit xodetroit.com for information regarding event scheduling, vendors, locations, hours of operation and more.