Locally sourced produce and on the go goods will be available amid a sea of takeout options in downtown East Lansing once winter thaws. Campbell’s Market Basket, the brainchild of East Lansing native Ken Campbell, turns Campbell’s passion for agriculture into a brick and mortar storefront at 547 E. Grand River Ave. across from MSU’s Broad Museum.
“People don’t realize how much produce is around them,” Campbell said. “But it is out there if you know where to look.”
The store will bring around eight parttime jobs to the city in addition to coffee, baked goods, meats and cheeses.
“My bread and butter is produce, so what I want to do is tie the freshness of produce into other healthy meals.”
Typical deli fare like soups, salads and sandwiches will be offered as takeout options.
“You can absolutely find quality produce from around the world, and you have to in this day and age, but if we can source food seasonally in Michigan, I think it is 10 times better than what you can get anywhere else.”
But due to Michigan’s shorter grow season, local can’t be everything, he added.
“The goal for me is to have the freshest food year-round.”
Studying agriculture at Albion College, Campbell worked on and managed produce farms throughout Michigan, including his own Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA, in Grand Ledge.
“I helped run farmers’ markets and did everything from getting my hands dirty growing to putting on farm-to-table dinners,” Campbell said. “It was my introduction into the food and farm scene that sparked my love for local produce.”
To have an urban grocer in East Lansing has been a long time coming, Campbell said.
“We are coming into a cycle where people want to be healthier, more conscious and more educated than ever about what they are eating and where it’s coming from.”
The last locally owned grocery in East Lansing to offer Michigan-based produce was the East Lansing Food Co-op. After 40 years of business, it closed in 2017 after competitors Fresh Thyme and Whole Foods brought more grocery options to the area.
The market will not compete with big box stores for someone looking to shop long term, Campbell said. Instead, he will look at convenience and target the day-to-day shopper.
With the latest developments downtown, the market will be a great asset to East Lansing newcomers, Campbell said.
Mixed-use developments Center City District and The Hub look to bring more walkable shopping to the area. The former will house 92 senior housing units and 273 market housing units when finished. The Hub, set for completion in Fall 2019, will offer 347 apartment units.
Both businesses will be within walking distance of the market.
“I hope to serve the university, but also my hometown. I live right down the street and can walk to work.”
An urban market can also bring more of a diverse crowd into downtown Lansing, he said.
“We have an awesome farmers’ market, but it is a short season. Between the East Lansing community and students, that’s where the success will be found.”
For now, installing fixtures and hiring is are the next big steps, Campbell said.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do, but I’m so excited.”
For more information on job openings and Campbell’s Market Basket, visit www.campbellsmarketbasket.com