5 Unique Artisan Markets in the U.S.
Shoppers in the U.S. have become increasingly diversified in their purchasing habits over the past decade thanks to the internet, specialty products for niche markets and digital incentives like free or same day shipping. Now there is another emerging business model that provides an alternative to shopping malls and big box retail stores.
Artisan marketplaces are starting to spring up around the country. The concept brings local vendors, craftsmen and boutique businesses into open, loft-like spaces and often include farm-to-table food operations in the mix. Not only do these marketplaces provide a more intimate and specialized shopping experience such as Seattle’s Melrose Market (pictured above) but they also function as informal social gatherings where shoppers can meet and interact with local craftsmen, artists and designers from their community.
Located on the second floor of Ponce City Market in Atlanta, Georgia, Citizen Supply is the concept of creative entrepreneur Phil Sanders. What began as Foster, a pop-up shop for local artists to sell their creations, eventually morphed into Citizen Supply, a larger organization where more than a hundred craftspeople from around the country sell small batch, local and sustainable brands. For example, Little Artifacts offers handmade table lamps, floor lamps and pendants and Flordeliza Brand, a bag and accessory design studio, specializes in leather. The 12,000 square-foot artisan marketplace provides a wide range of high quality, handmade goods which run the gamut from apothecary items to office supplies to jewelry. The Ponce City Market location is also particularly appealing due to the excellent selection of restaurants and grab-and-go food stalls on the ground floor such as W.H. Stiles Fish Camp (seafood), Botiwalla (Indian street food) and El Super Pan (Latin inspired sandwiches and hot plates). The City Winery, a live music venue/restaurant, is another reason the place is always buzzing with Atlantans and visitors who have come to hang out, eat, shop and enjoy live entertainment in one complex.
Here is a unique foodie experience that combines specialty food stores, restaurants and a brewery into a former 1880’s brick foundry in Denver’s River North District. Among the 15 merchants in this lively artisan food market are Boxcar Coffee Roasters, Beet & Yarrow, which offers seasonal produce and floral designs, Babettes Artisan Breads, Mondo Market, specializing in cheeses and spices, SVPER ORDINARY, a design store and gallery space, the Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project (the place to come for sampling sour beers) and Comida, a modern Mexican taqueria. The Source also hosts a monthly schedule of pop-up food and craft events.
Situated in the up and coming community of Gilbert, Arizona (20 miles southeast of downtown Phoenix), Barnone is a community of craftsmen and artisans who operate their businesses out of a massive reconverted barn. The austere but visually striking space offers a dining/shopping concept that combines restaurants with a brewery, a winemaker, a salon, a produce vendor, a florist and a full service gunsmith. The hours of operation vary for each vendor and there is a monthly calendar of events that foster community involvement with live music acts, yoga classes and a movie night. Among the artisans represented are Everybody Loves Flowers (a floral arrangement/home decor service), Prickly Pear Paper (handcrafted paper goods), Wander (cosmetology products) and Fire & Brimstone (rustic, wood-fired cuisine).
Newbo City Market
Anyone traveling to Grand Rapids, Iowa, should definitely check out this impressive showcase for small food entrepreneurs and home-grown businesses. Located in the city’s New Bohemia neighborhood, the year-round public facility features both permanent shops and seasonal vendors. Rare Bird Soap Shop (skin care products and handcrafted soaps), The Artisan’s Emporium (children’s clothes, wraps and scarves by local spinners) and Furry Friends (accessories for pets and wildlife) are just a sample of the local craftsmen on display at Newbo City Market. And there is an even larger offering of specialty food merchants such as Corn Fusion (Iowa-grown popcorn), Zaza’s Pasta (fresh pasta to go) and Sausage Foundry (heritage pork products).
One of the first artisan markets to gain national attention is this stylish indoor food and retail market which first opened in 2010 in the Pike-Pine neighborhood of Seattle. The setting is a pair of historic automotive buildings circa 1919-1926 which were converted into Melrose Market and includes a large event space and catering facility. The restaurant Sirka & Spruce, Bar Ferdinand, Still Liquor and Homegrown (craft sandwiches, seasonal salads and breakfast) are popular with the foodie and cocktail crowd but are also instrumental in attracting visitors who like to linger and shop at stores like Marigold and Mint (an organic floral shop), Glasswing (clothing, jewelry, accessories) and Butter Home (wall art, lighting and gifts for the kitchen, office and garden).
All of these artisan markets herald the beginning of an exciting new trend that is happening not just in major cities but in medium-size towns and communities across the country.