Campbell’s Market Basket doubles down on fresh food in expanded space

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After graduating from Albion College, third-generation East Lansing resident Ken Campbell, 36, spent two years working at a handful of farms in Harbor Springs before returning to East Lansing in 2014 and buying his own farm in Grand Ledge, which he operated for three seasons.

His experiences on the farms fueled his growing interest in the benefits of locally sourced food.

“Five years later, I decided that I wanted to open up my own business because there was almost a food desert, a lack of fresh grocery food, in downtown East Lansing,” he said.

In 2019, he opened Campbell’s Market Basket, a small specialty grocer, on Grand River Avenue. In May, he expanded into a property next door that almost doubled his existing space to about 3,000 square feet.

“We took our original concept and spread it out. Our original location has transitioned into more of a cafe and fresh food side, and immediately to the west is our grocery store,” he said. “My goal was to become more of a one-stop-shop, a convenient and fresh market downtown.”

Customers looking for prepared food can order from a robust menu that includes sandwiches, soups, salads, coffee and espresso, beer and wine, desserts and more. Some menu items are pre-packaged and available for purchase on the grocery side. Delivery is also available through third-party apps like Grubhub.

“Whether it’s salads, sandwiches or deli items, those are all prepared right here by our staff. We feel that these things are maybe a little bit better quality than you’d find elsewhere,” Campbell said.

The grocery side offers fresh fruits, vegetables, baked goods, prepackaged deli products and condiments like jellies, jams and hot sauces. Most of the items are sourced locally.

“We have a really small footprint but offer a large diversity of products,” Campbell said. “Our niche is that we don’t want to just have the same things you can find at Target or Meijer. We try to select specialty brands and higher-quality goods that aren’t your typical name-brand labels.”

Campbell has spent the last five years strengthening his relationships with Michigan State University students and staff, who he said make up a significant portion of his customer base.

“A lot of people who work close by are walking here on their lunch break or before they go home after work. Those are our loyal customers — the people who might stop by once or twice every single day,” he said. “You get to see them day in and day out. You know them by name, you know their kids, and they know your family. So, for us, it’s all about the atmosphere, the environment and the vibe that we can provide.”

 

Ken Campbell, Campbell's Market Basket, East Lansing, grocery, local, new, business

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