Even in the middle of a holiday weekend, the Downtown Market was still very much alive.
For some people it was part of their traveling must-sees in West Michigan.
“We wanted to check it out. We looked it up. We heard really good things about it. It’s our first time here and we like it,” Patrick Ocharzak from the Detroit area said.
It was a year ago that the highly anticipated project on Ionia Avenue near Wealthy Street set sail with high hopes – and the promise of big business and big bucks.
“This is about food. It’s about education and it is about entrepreneurship,” Dick DeVos said last year.
A year later, some business owners said the promise has been fulfilled.
“We’re not going anywhere. We just hope that we can continue to grow – that we can continue to wow and impress our customers,” said business owner Jermale Eddie.
There are some hopes at the Downtown Market that haven’t yet quite been realized.
Early on there was talk of a brewery or a restaurant. Neither of those things has happened yet.
But there’s still a lot of excitement about the possibility of those things, because there are more places to live downtown and more people living there mean more money for the market.
One such development is right across the street from the market and there are several others underway.
“If you really look at the potential of what this area is going to be and how integrated it will be into the downtown core – it makes perfect sense to me,” business owner Jeff Betzow said.
The owners here hope that will raise the stakes and encourage businesses to join in and fill some of the empty space still at the market.
One space was recently filled with a new sushi counter.
“We noticed the place and then we visit and we see a lot of people here and asking all about sushi,” said manager Echo Adikaputra.
The hope that the word continues to spread and the market continues to grow.
“We’re all hanging in there and even slow days we’re still doing alright and when it’s really good, it’s really good,” Kate Leeder, owner of Aperitivo said.
The market was expected to make a half-million dollars in its first year.
Organizers did suffer a financial set back when a federal grand didn’t come through. It is unknown at this point how the market is doing financially overall.