Skip to main content

- Advertisement -

Eastern Market looks to expand

By
Keith Loria

The Eastern Market in Detroit has been nourishing Detroit since 1891. Since its earliest days, Eastern Market has become a cornerstone of the Motor City and its surrounding area.

Eastern Market District, anchored by a hybrid retail/wholesale public market and surrounded by regional food businesses, is considered a road to a healthier, fairer and more sustainable food future.

More than two million shop and buy food at Eastern Market each year, with $360 million of wholesale food sold, a great percentage produce-focused.

Over the past decade, Eastern Market Partnership, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, has built an infrastructure around the market to support its mission to enrich Detroit—nutritionally, culturally and economically.

The mission of the nonprofit is to manage operations, develop programs, build facilities, provide critical infrastructure, and collaborate with community partners to strengthen the Eastern Market District as the most inclusive, resilient, and robust regional food hub in the United States.

Additionally, it looks to fortify the food sector as a pillar of regional economic growth and improve access to healthy, green, affordable, and fair food choices in Detroit and throughout Southeast Michigan.

With Detroit being a city where more than 80 percent of its residents are people of color, Eastern Market has a strong commitment to racial equity as well.

The Eastern Market was something of a monopoly on the regional wholesale produce trade until the 1925 construction of the Detroit Produce Terminal Market. Between the 1950s until 2010s both markets shrunk as large grocery chains built their own regional distribution centers, bypassing the need for public or terminal markets.

And with consumers driving fundamental shifts toward local, healthier, and more distinctive food products over the last decade, iconic, mass-marketed brand sales are diminishing and behemoth food enterprises are scrambling to reinvent themselves as smaller producers of specialty food products flourish.

The Institute for the Competitiveness of Inner Cities recently reported that food businesses employ the widest range of skills among all economic clusters. Especially important for Detroit is the high number of entry-level, living-wage jobs that food businesses generate. Those jobs are desperately needed to solve chronic structural unemployment in the city’s neighborhoods. That’s something that Eastern Market has always done for people in the area.

Additionally, Eastern Market has played a notable role in promoting entrepreneurism across economic classes. The Eastern Market explains that in its long history, “new immigrants have found their economic footing as vendors at Eastern Market.”

Today, it honors that tradition with wider efforts to engage neighborhood-based entrepreneurs whether they make food products or other goods.

In the Eastern Market’s 2025 vision statement, it has created a plan to better identify ways to ensure that the market continues to be a place where all are welcome regardless of their age, or race.

“As the food economy shifts toward greater variety and scale, it is time for Eastern Market to capitalize on its unmatched diversity of people and range of food businesses to continue the legacy of nourishing Detroit,” the plan reads.

The big question in the 2025 strategic planning process is “How can Eastern Market keep its working food district authenticity in the face of market trends and buildings that are ripe for conversion to other uses?”

The conclusion is that the Eastern Market must expand. A growing Eastern Market will provide Detroit with a launching pad for economic growth capable of creating thousands of new jobs.

“Eastern Market can become a more compelling destination on days other than Saturday,” the plan said. “Expanding the District also accelerates the transformation of the current market district into a more robust mixed-use district with more retail, housing and people. The largely vacant land to the north and east of the current market district can provide the space for food processing and distribution.”

Keith Loria

Keith Loria

About Keith Loria  |  email

A graduate of the University of Miami, Keith Loria is a D.C.-based award-winning journalist who has been writing for major publications for close to 20 years on topics as diverse as real estate, food and sports. He started his career with the Associated Press and has held high editorial positions at magazines aimed at healthcare, sports and technology. When not busy writing, he can be found enjoying time with his wife, Patricia, and two daughters, Jordan and Cassidy.

Tagged in:

- Advertisement -

- Advertisement -

- Advertisement -

- Advertisement -

- Advertisement -

- Advertisement -

- Advertisement -

- Advertisement -

- Advertisement -

- Advertisement -

- Advertisement -