The Downtown Detroit Markets and Cadillac Lodge have returned for year five alongside a new and immersive winter wonderland at Monroe Street Midway. Southeast Michigan visitors and out-of-town travelers are able to experience an engaging and beautiful space to gather, socialize, shop, eat, play, and celebrate the season.
Offering something for everyone and just steps from the 65-foot Christmas tree and the Rink at Campus Martius, the impetus behind the activation is as robust and multidimensional as the space itself.
Said Francesca Eid, vice president of experience at Bedrock, “Our intention is to bring our city, visitors, and all of those involved unique opportunities for fun and success here. First, it’s an opportunity for people to gather and make beautiful memories. Kids – and adults alike – can play in the Midway Arcade, have a ball on the Arctic Slide, ride the Winter Bumper Cars and see Santa. Then, you can visit the unique shops for one-of-a-kind holiday gifts and follow that up with a treat and a drink at the Lodge. Second, it’s an opportunity to shine a bright light on local entrepreneurs.”
Laura Grannemann, executive director of the Gilbert Family Foundation shared, “During the winter in Michigan we tend to huddle inside. This is an invitation to come out and create social bonds, support local businesses, and connect with the community, which is so important.”
More than a place to convene, the overarching and critical driver behind the Holiday Markets is to shine a light on Detroit-area entrepreneurs by providing them with a platform to launch and grow.
“The Markets truly act as an incubator for the city’s entrepreneurs and small businesses,” said Grannemann. “It’s an inimitable opportunity to share their brands and test market their products amongst thousands of consumers during this holiday shopping season.”
Over the last five years, 130 small businesses have taken part in the Downtown Detroit Markets, to the tune of nearly $6 million in overall sales. Many of these local businesses have then gone on to open brick-and-mortar storefronts.
Said Chantele Jones, owner of Estella’s Vegan Dessert Boutique, Detroit’s first all-vegan bakery, “I am planning to open in the Grandmont Rosedale area in spring of 2023 and the Downtown Detroit Markets are going to help me on this journey by getting my name out and my desserts into thousands of hands and mouths over the next eight weeks.”
Echoing this vision and drive, Young Socialites Clothier owner Naima Melonson said, “I’m using this opportunity to test market products and to tell the story of my brand, and I hope to be in my own showroom by next fall.”
In a new strategic partnership with Bedrock, TechTown is substantially amplifying vendor support this year by working with the 18 Market vendors – the majority of which are BIPOC or female-owned – offering workshops, education, one-on-one business mentorship, and more.
“This partnership aligns perfectly with our commitment to grow small businesses, said director of economic development fundraising at TechTown, Danielle Manley. “We are working with the owners here to provide consultation on critical areas such as customer acquisition, inventory management, marketing, and more so that they can catapult their success from the Markets forward.”
Jones shares, “TechTown has been phenomenal to work with. Between TechTown and Bedrock they are getting me ready… preparing and coaching me toward future success.”
One aspect that may seem simple but helps these entrepreneurs exponentially is having the dedicated space that the Downtown Detroit Markets provide – space that is outfitted and ready to go.
Said Stella Safari, co-owner of Zapenda, an African-inspired apparel brand with the mission to connect the African diaspora through fashion, “We are used to doing pop-ups, where we have to haul our apparel out and set up a couple of racks and a table. We walked into the Markets and it blew us away. The space was set up with racks and hangers and it’s heated and beautiful and we have security … allowing us to focus on the customers and our products and do what we do best. I am so grateful to have this space packaged for us in this way.”
Christina Devlin, program manager at TechTown, Wayne State University weighs in on this, saying, “When someone comes to have an experience at the Markets it doesn’t feel like they are shopping at a pop up or small business. We guide these business owners on how best to utilize their space and their branding and the entire experience feels professional, seamless and like a brick and mortar.”
“This new winter activation is really important to our staff,” said Justin Jacobs, owner of Come Play Detroit. “Instead of being seasonal, we can offer more jobs and hours during the winter season now. We are thankful to Bedrock for creating this opportunity for us – and also for all who are able to come and create memorable experiences here. It’s forward-thinking of Bedrock.”
Justin and his team are activating the 20-foot high and 80-foot long Artic Slide, and Puck-Putt, a unique combination of putt-putt golf and hockey and they “can’t wait to put smiles on faces.”
Said Kyle Black, Owner of Rollercade who brought roller skating to the Monroe Street Midway summer activation and now offers the only Winter Bumper Cars of their kind in Michigan,
Bringing this life and fun to a dedicated space in the middle of Detroit all year long – there are no words to describe how this opportunity feels.
Visitors can also enjoy a colorful mural from Detroit-based artist Marlo Broughton (moniker “Marlo Bro”) at the Midway. The artwork links important human rights from past to present and acts as a contemplative yet lively backdrop, “It feels great to be able to have my voice as an artist heard here in this space.”
When asked what she’s personally most excited about regarding the Markets, Lodge, and Monroe Street Midway, Eid said, “Offering the start-up businesses a place to launch is paramount, and I’m thrilled about the partnership with TechTown. I also can’t wait to bring my son downtown and make a full day out of playing, walking, and shopping in our magical and thriving city.”
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