GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A new iteration of The Arts Marketplace is now open in downtown Grand Rapids’ Studio Park.
The Arts Marketplace at Studio Park quietly opened to customers Tuesday after a monthlong makeover by Tiffany Eden Design. The storefront overlooking Studio Park’s Piazza features new murals and areas for home furnishings, games and books, beauty products, jewelry and clothing, fair trade and gourmet treats.
“It’s beautiful,” said Studio Park spokeswoman Emily Loeks.
Pack Elephant previously subleased a portion of the storefront near the corner of Oakes Street and Ionia Avenue SW, opening its retail space in December 2020. In return for a break on the lease rate, Pack Elephant also staffed the pop-up Arts Marketplace.
Pack Elephant and the Arts Marketplace were on good terms when they parted ways on May 18, according to Loeks.
“They’ve just decided their best investment of energy and growth is that online retail space,” Loeks said.
She said Pack Elephant saw its online business-to-business sales grow significantly over the past year.
Meanwhile, the not-for-profit Arts Marketplace found success in its pop-up space where artists could showcase their work, so it’s now expanding that concept into the space where Pack Elephant was previously located.
Vendors can rent space with a fully staffed sales team for $75 to $350 a month and retain all their sales income, with a minimum lease of three months. Supporters like Acrisure, the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce, the Grand Rapids Downtown Development Authority, MLive Media Group and Studio C help keep costs low, making the space more accessible for vendors.
“For someone like me who wears multiple hats with my business, has a day job, and does volunteer work throughout the community among many other things, the Marketplace’s concept was perfect and came at just the right time. I love downtown. Anyone who knows me knows I’ve always wanted to have a shop on Ionia Ave. I feel that I got just that, but in a different format and in a much more affordable and feasible (for me) way,” Wear Your Curls owner Felisha Rodriguez stated in a news release.
The Arts Marketplace is home to work from more than 40 makers “and there’s probably room for at least another 30-40 vendors,” Loeks said. The marketplace focuses on supporting businesses by members of historically marginalized groups. Current vendors include Grand Pine Creations, Foliage Effect, Shannon Cohen, Inc., Public Thread, We are Lit, Confident Wear, Minty Boutique, Wear Your Curls, Gracewood Candles, Guelaguetza Designs and Treetops Collective.
Arts Marketplace Board President Jamie Dionne said some artists who utilized the pop-up shop have since expanded their business. Some of the most successful vendors also held “maker events” from their space, according to general manager Virginia Torres-Rodriguez.
The Arts Marketplace will mark its grand reopening with a ribbon cutting ceremony Friday at 4 p.m. The celebration continues Saturday with refreshments, artist meet and greets and shopper perks.