Middle Village Micro Market welcomes new businesses

Six new businesses open inside downtown incubator space


TUESDAY, March 15 — Several new stores opened today inside the Middle Village Micro Market incubator space on Washington Square. 

The new shops are CocoBella Fashion Boutique, with fashions that are focused on empowering women; Sylvia’s Sudsery, an artisan soap making company; Poor Sport, a home decor shop; The Goldmine, an artist's co-op shop featuring the work of different local artists; Nature’s 92, a tea shop focusing on the benefits of sea moss and holistic health; and Capital City Sweets, a cookie dough and ice cream store.

The Middle Village Micro Market launched last October and is a project by organized by the nonprofit Downtown Lansing Inc. The market, which doubles as DLI's office space, houses multiple small startup shops so their owners can better familiarize themselves with running a business.

DLI’s director of downtown community development, Julie Reinhardt, described the new shops as “an eclectic mix.” Reinhardt also serves as the business outreach and program manager for DLI. 

“Our whole mission is to provide a diverse, vibrant downtown for people to live, work and play,” Reinhardt said. “And as part of our mission, we have taken the lead on COVID-19 recovery to build back a better Lansing — a better downtown. Middle Village is a big part of that.” 

The new cohort of shops are part of a new, year-long program with DLI, something that the last group of Middle Village vendors didn’t experience because the program had only operated for a few months last winter.

“We have worked with a lot of experts in the field, and we feel like a year is a really good time for them to get adjusted and for them to do some final-stage learning,” Reinhardt said.

She explained how DLI also offers monthly classes for business owners to attend for help with topics like marketing and loans. Reinhardt said that the market charges vendors a below-average lease rate because of the market’s size. Other aspects like utilities and Wi-Fi are also covered by DLI, so that the businesses can “really focus on building their brand," she said.

Middle Village alumni include Sweet Encounter Bakery & Cafe, a bakery specializing in treats for those with food allergies, and A Novel Concept, a women-owned bookstore.

“It’s fun to watch them build a brand, get their clientele, get their feet wet and start small,” Reinhardt said. “Then, it feels less risky, because it’s a tiny version of what they can become.” 

Reinhardt also said that Lake Trust Credit Union has been a “huge partner” in bringing Middle Village to fruition along with DLI. 

Justin Haun, a business development manager with Lake Trust, said he’s been working closely with small businesses to connect them with financial well-being services. 

“The Middle Village Micro Market is a unique incubator space where small business entrepreneurs have the opportunity to really test and perfect their craft, as well as work in a space with multiple other entrepreneurs where they can learn, connect and share experiences,” he said.

Haun described the market as a way of creating a “pipeline of businesses” that can fill vacancies downtown. Reinhardt said that DLI moved its offices downtown last fall in an effort to address such vacancies and train those in Middle Village to fill them. 

“We’ll be able to provide training and resources to really be able to help these entrepreneurs gain access to the information that will, hopefully, enable them to be successful,” Haun added. “I think that we see this as a long-term commitment to supporting entrepreneurs and supporting business growth in downtown Lansing.”


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here

Connect with us