Unique Western Market chalets open for season



By Cynthia Price

The chalet shops on Western Avenue are a charming idea that turned out to have practical success, both for the City of Muskegon and for individual retail entrepreneurs.

When the shops started in 2017, it was hard to know whether the concept – small chalets for shops rentable (inexpensively} for the season – was going to work. But the idea caught on, bringing people downtown and allowing some vendors to “practice” for moving on to larger storefronts or venues.

The audience expanded when the Pearl Mist cruise ships committed to having regular stops with passengers debarking nearby, which will continue in 2019.

And judging from the hundreds who visited as the shops opened for the 2019 season March 24, which was many more than on previous opening days, people could hardly wait for the shopping to begin. This happened even though the weather was on the cold side and looked like rain.

Ann Meisch, the City of Muskegon Clerk who is also the Western Market’s manager, says, “We were really happy. It shows Muskegon is really supportive ... Muskegon really loves us.”

She adds, laughing, “It’s craziness with some of these things, including Taste of Muskegon [coming up June 14-15; see page 10], you just run around like a chicken with your head cut off, and then it comes together and it’s fine.”

Josh Heeren, who co-owns Soap Dude Cosmetics with his brother Joey, says that he found out only about a week before the opening that he would get a spot. The brothers praise the City of Muskegon, saying they put together a nice-looking shop in short order.

Soap Dude’s well-reviewed products can be seen at www.facebook.com/soapdudecosmetics/

Miranda Schroeder of Thoughtfully Thrifted said she too was pleased with how well it came together. Thoughtfully Thrifted is “a curated selection of hand chosen vintage items,” according to website www.thoughtfully-thrifted.com.

Meisch says that the city also works with the chalet holders on marketing and decision-making processes, helping to train them for if/when they go out on their own. She adds that the intention is to have more events this year.

Other vendors, many of whom sell food treats, are: Book Nook Too, Good Moos, B. Unique Designs and Mini Me, Skee’s Tees, Maggie’s Gourmet Foods and Gifts,
Harris and Willow,  Tatterweave Designs, Sili Pint, Happy Matt’s Kettlecorn, Roots by SLC, Giro Di Gelato, Muskegon Inspired, Clean Ocean Clothing, Gems near the Lakeshore, and Village Baker.

Until Sept. 1, the shops are closed Monday and Tuesday, open 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Wed., Thurs., Fri and 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays. During July and on Aug. 19, Sept. 2, and Festival Days, they will be open 12:00-3:00 p.m. Sundays.

On Sept. 7-Oct. 26, and Nov. 30-Dec. 14, they are open Saturdays 9-3.