Wednesday, June 5 — Competition is a cornerstone of business, and one of the best ways to be competitive is to extend your hours. Or, as the Lansing City Market found, extending the number of days you stay open. Last summer, the market experimented with opening on Sundays — a season program called Summer Sundays — and some of the results were surprising.
“We saw people in here that we’ve never seen before,” said Heather Hymes, Lansing City Market manager. “We knew that we were going to be more accessible to our regulars, and those new faces were a good sign.”
From now until Sept.29, the Lansing City Market will be open on Sundays, from noon to 4 p.m. One of those vendors is the Hickory Corners Greenhouse and Gardens, in its 19th year of being a Lansing City Market staple. The produce shop has seen many changes, such as building locations and market hours, as well as become an integral part of the livelihoods of the other vendors.
“All of our hot food vendors use something from another business whether it’s produce from Hickory Corners, gluten-free bread from Sweet Seasons, or chicken from Otto’s Chicken,” said Hymes.
The businesses work together to achieve the market’s mission, “to bring the best products, services, and events to Mid-Michigan,” and Summer Sundays help vendors bring this to a new group of consumers. It’s a community effort by both the market’s veterans as well as newcomers.
“The market is always looking for young, fresh ideas; for entrepreneurs who want to be open on Sundays … for ones who have found their niche,” said John Decker, co-owner of Hickory Corners with his wife Pam.
One such niche business is nine-week-old Wandering Waffles, a waffle-to-go creation owned by Zach and Samantha Wilbur.
“It’s a clever vehicle for getting toppings into your mouth,” Samantha Wilbur said. And these aren’t just normal toppings — with combinations of both sweet and savory, a customer can walk away tasting the homemade marshmallow of a s’more waffle or the spicy salsas of the burrito one.
Everyone is working together, but just as grab-and-go waffles make some do a double take, each market business has something that makes it stand out.
Caruso’s Candy Kitchen regularly experiments with chocolate-covered combinations of sometimes seemingly incompatible foods. Although some are only available as seasonal items, want to try a chocolate-covered chili pepper? Bacon? A springtime marshmallow peep? Or move beyond the food and browse the crocheted creations of Lara Brown, owner of La La’s Wonderland. Each piece is handmade, a bit funky and so “not your grandma’s crocheted-clothing store,” Brown said.
Even though La La’s Wonderland has only held its market spot for a little over a month, Brown hasn’t missed the collaborative atmosphere created by the other vendors.
“It’s not like working at a mall or a grocery store,” Brown said. “It’s like a family, and we’re all selling something we believe in.”
Lansing City Market
325 City Market Drive, Lansing
10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday-Friday; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday; noon to 4 p.m. Sunday