A new shop in downtown Marquette has been catching the eyes of passersby since its late April opening.
The Gathered Earth, at 131 W. Washington, is a new addition to the downtown shopping scene, but fits right in with quirky retail neighbors like Panara Imports, Spice Merchants and Boomerang Retro & Relics.
Owned by Erica and Andrew Smith, The Gathered Earth carries artisan creations, jewelry, gifts, home and garden items -- an eclectic mixture curated by Erica Smith, all with a strong connection to nature.
"We try to bring in a lot of different things," she says. "If I bring something in, it's because I love it." She also focuses on American-made, local, fair-trade, and environment-friendly products, with an eye toward keeping her inventory both earth- and community-conscious.
With a soft opening of April 24, the Smiths had a little while to work out the kinks (like a too-stubborn-to-connect credit card machine) before their official opening on May 23 in conjunction with the Marquette Downtown Development Association, just in time for Memorial Day weekend.
The Gathered Earth was formerly located in Appleton, where the Smiths lived previously; it had opened in a rural location near Appleton in 2012, and made a move to a more business-heavy district in 2014. Now, Marquette offers the downtown opportunity for further growth, with the benefit of being in an area they'd always been interested in moving to.
The Smiths have ties to the area already -- Andrew is a Marquette High School grad and they have family living in Marquette, so they've visited often. Over the last few years, says Erica Smith, they've been noticing an upswing in the busy pace of downtown each time they visit, and finally decided it was time to make a move with both their business and family.
"We love the area," she says. "It's bikeable, good for the family." The couple have two teenage children.
They're hoping for a successful summer to start out the business with a bang in the Marquette area, and Erica Smith says they're excited about the chance to serve a community they love, while at the same time offering visitors and tourists one more reason to stroll the streets of downtown Marquette.
Kim Eggleston is a Marquette, Michigan-based freelance writer and editor.