I have this friend who owns a small business and a farm (here’s a link to their Facebook page) and they often take their wares and tootle on down to the farmers’ market in Kalamazoo on Saturday mornings. I finally got a chance to go to the market myself, instead of just hearing about it from their Facebook posts.Bank Street Famers Market baskets

I told my family they were in for a treat and we piled into the van early on a Saturday morning. My children, deeply suspicious of anything involving one of my crazy ideas and/or vegetables, set their hopes very low. They were anticipating a very large outdoor version of the produce department at Meijer, so they were pleasantly surprised when we drove through a somewhat dicey portion of town and then popped out at what appeared to be a carnival.

Sadly, no rides. But we did find hippies in the aisles and a Maserati in the parking lot. There were tents and delicious foods, so the kids decided maybe I wasn’t trying to torture them. Audrey quickly realized free samples abounded, and then Caleb spied the gluten-free booths, and suddenly we were all having fun. Eric is now a committed foodie, so all those booths of deliciousness put him in an excellent mood for the better part of two days. We bought goat cheese, and fancy breads, more cheese, street tacos, actual fruits and vegetables, and THEN we spied the gluten-free angel food cake.

Wait. Maybe we found the cake first and the tacos second. It doesn’t matter. We ate it all.

The four of us plowed down half of an angel food cake in less than ten minutes. I do not feel guilty, not even a little bit.

You see, we were doing it in the name of supporting local businesses.

All this reading I’ve been doing about simple living always mentions our obligation to local businesses, and I have to be honest– I’m pretty terrible about this because I’m very, very cheap. I get extremely agitated when I feel someone is trying to charge me more money for things than is strictly necessary. Why should I pay $4 for a box of cereal at a local store when I can pay $3 at Meijer or $2 at Aldi?

However, I have to admit that I often stand next to the employees at our local stores while we wait to pick up our children from school. Maybe if I really cared about my community I’d spend the extra buck or two and make sure his or her employer stays in business for a few more years. It doesn’t appear that the employees of Hardings or the embroidery/print shop are driving Rolls Royces or putting in gold-plated swimming pools, so maybe they’re doing something else with that money. Oh, something like feeding their children and paying the rent, perhaps. 

I’m starting small, so I don’t seize up and give my wallet some sort of panic attack. Today I went to a Kalamazoo-based shoe store to buy a pair of shoes, and I’m buying almost all our family’s meat from V&V Market on Sprinkle Road. I love the family atmosphere and the service at V&V, and the quality can’t be beat. I do pay a little more, but I’ve started making a few more vegetarian meals to make the meat I do buy last longer. They have a little sign up next to the cash register. It says something along the lines of “Thank you for shopping here. It really does make a difference.”

You’re welcome, local business people. And if you do put in the gold-plated swimming pool, please don’t tell me. Bank Street Farmers market flowers


11 Comments on Bank Street Farmers’ Market: Where the Crunchy-Granola Hippies and the Millionaires All Hang Out

  1. Jennifer VanderHart
    September 18, 2014 at 5:15 pm (3 years ago)

    Jessie, is the meat more at V&V? At my Meijer it is 4.99 for lean ground beef. I got it for 3.69 at V&V. Hmmm.

    Have you ever gone to the People’s Food Co-op? The name cracks me up because it sound so inclusive. You know,they are they for the common people. The common people who can afford to pay $7 for a gallon of milk and $6 for a bag of noodles. Ha!

    Love the farmer’s market. Sounds like I need to check out Bank Street!

  2. Jessie Clemence
    September 18, 2014 at 7:45 pm (3 years ago)

    You’re right, Jennifer. The ground beef is an excellent deal, and the regular prices are quite good. I think Meijer must do a lot of loss leader sales on things like chicken breast, because those are a little more at the local market. But not enough more that I won’t pay for it!

  3. Sarah Strait
    September 18, 2014 at 10:42 pm (3 years ago)

    I’ve been meaning to check out V&V meats. Now I’ll have to go. 🙂 The People’s Food Coop is a great place to shop. I’ve been there several times and the staff has always been very helpful and friendly. The Natural Health Center on Drake is another good one too.

  4. lauralee5271
    September 19, 2014 at 6:38 am (3 years ago)

    Jessie you rock!

  5. Jessie Clemence
    September 19, 2014 at 8:30 am (3 years ago)

    I haven’t been to the Coop yet. I hear fun things about it!

  6. Gabrielle
    September 19, 2014 at 9:31 am (3 years ago)

    Jessie, sadly I only managed to get to the Bank Street Market a few times before we moved away. Having since visited many other farmer’s markets, the Bank Street Market ranks in the top two of all farmer’s markets I have seen. So know that you have something special there in good ole Kalamazoo. And if everyone spends just $50 per month at local businesses, it puts millions into the local economy. So keep shopping at that meat market and the farmer’s market!

  7. bluestempond
    September 19, 2014 at 10:48 am (3 years ago)

    It’s unusual to find a Blogger from Kzoo. I’m glad to see that I might even run into you one day when I go up to “the city.”

  8. Jessie Clemence
    September 19, 2014 at 10:52 am (3 years ago)

    Sounds like fun! 🙂

  9. Jessie Clemence
    September 19, 2014 at 10:53 am (3 years ago)

    I’ve only been to this one and the one in Grand Rapids near my sister’s house. But this weekend we’re going to visit my brother and his wife, and Michelle’s taking us to one in the Detroit area. I can’t wait to see how D Town handles farmers’ markets!

  10. lardavbern
    September 19, 2014 at 11:12 am (3 years ago)

    You’re pushing me to an early lunch.
    Glad the Farmer’s Market was fun for all. It sounds like a cool place to be.
    It’s great to support something local – particularly when they appreciate it.

  11. Jessie Clemence
    September 21, 2014 at 6:38 pm (3 years ago)

    This weekend we went to Eastern Market in Detroit, which was fascinating. The urban landscape made for some interesting atmosphere.