Writer | Candie Conat
Photo | Art Marketplace
Focus On: Arts Marketplace of Studio Park
The Arts Marketplace at Studio Park in downtown Grand Rapids is off to an amazing start. On Small Business Saturday in November 2021, they took a leap of faith as they opened their doors with 15 vendors in a shared space. The initial kickoff went much better than anticipated and when additional space became available, the Arts Marketplace board of directors carefully chose to make a bigger leap by taking over the entire 5,000-square-foot building. After a brief closure for remodeling, they re-opened in July 2022 with a new look. Today, they feature up to 60 local makers and are still growing.
The mission of Arts Marketplace is simple yet profound. “We exist to create opportunities and remove barriers for women and minority-owned businesses allowing them to scale and grow,” General Manager Virginia Torres says. “By curating a diverse collection of artists and retailers, we strive to enhance the retail presence in downtown Grand Rapids.”
As a nonprofit organization with a volunteer board, Arts Marketplace depends on donors and supporters to help keep costs low for tenants, which allows small businesses to thrive in their first and usually most difficult years in business. Arts Marketplace offers further artist support through programming and events that help to engage the community and create a destination-type retail experience for their visitors. Individual artists are encouraged to host events of their own as well. Many of these events are featured on the Arts Marketplace website.
Arts Marketplace is constantly expanding and searching for new makers to join the fun. Torres says one of the best things about having so many artists in one location is that even if there are several who make jewelry, each individual’s style means there is always something for everyone. If you want to be considered to join the makers at Arts Marketplace, Torres says the best way to apply is by using the form on the website.
Vendors change frequently, depending on the season, but there are six anchor vendors that are committed to the mission for the long haul. Those anchor vendors include Confident Wear, Minty Boutique, Wear Your Curls, Tough Skin Soft Heart, We Are Lit and Public Thread. These six businesses offer everything from carefully selected and one-of-a-kind women’s apparel, bags and totes made from recycled materials, thought-provoking books, all things curly hair products, greeting cards, journals and seasonal apparel. From fine art, furniture and kitchen accessories to herbal teas, body balms and home goods, the collection of products is immense. You really must visit to experience the 5,000 square feet of amazing products.
Arts Marketplace at Studio Park
121 Ionia Ave SWGrand Rapids, MI 49503