St. Louis has oodles of markets, but there's nothing quite like Grand Market, slated to open in Strauss Park (Washington and North Grand boulevards) this summer.
According to market coordinator Martin Casas, the market will be part arts venue, part specialty store and part produce vendor. It will take advantage of the diverse community that surrounds the Grand Center district, the geographic center of St. Louis.
"We've got one of the most eclectic communities around us -- more than any other market has," Casas says. "So we've got to find something that caters to all those guys. And that's what's going to make Grand Market so unique and so reflective of the region."
Because Grand Market will be in a neighborhood bounded by low-income families to the north, businesspeople and artists to the south, Saint Louis University students and Central West End families, Casas wants to make sure that the market has something for everyone. He recently ran for office in the Grand Center district, and one of his goals was to redevelop North St. Louis and the surrounding areas to ensure that the people who live there have access to the same resources as the rest of the city.
Casas is also adamant that the Grand Market not take business away from any other farmers' markets in the area. He hopes that Grand Market can offer customers something unique, which is why the focus will be less on produce and more on artisan food products and entertainment.
"We're going more for a swap meet kind of feel," Casas says, "where there's a combination of small business entrepreneurs who want to sell stuff to market, musicians who want to come down and perform and food items you can only get there. For the first year, the market will be open Friday, Saturday and Sunday, but the long-term goal is to be open seven days a week. Friday and Saturday will feature goods and arts in the evenings, while Sunday will focus more on local produce.
The market will have about twenty booths and several food trucks. The planners are also working on a pop-up restaurant concept, and they've seen interest from a number of local musicians. Casas says the market will open in late May or early June.
Casas is no stranger to creating a lively gathering place for citizens. He's the founder and co-owner of Frontyard Features, a company that shows movies outdoors in parks across the U.S.
"My job used to be to show films in parks all over the country," Casas says. "Now I get to throw parties in one park. I'm pretty excited about that."
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