Argus Farm Stop is gearing up to open a second location in Ann Arbor's Burns Park neighborhood at 1200 Packard St., with a grand opening tentatively set for August.
Bill Brinkerhoff and Kathy Sample launched the first Argus Farm Stop in summer 2014 just outside downtown Ann Arbor on West Liberty. Brinkerhoff and Sample created what they saw as a "next-generation" farmers market, open year-round, seven days a week, and featuring produce, dairy, and meat from more than 140 local farmers and producers. Producers set their own prices and keep 80 percent of the sale price. The shop also includes a popular coffee bar.
"We love farmers markets, but they are limiting for some people, only being open one day a week," Sample says. "The sense of community at a farmers market can't be beat, but some people just can't shop on a Wednesday or a Saturday."
The idea for the Burns Park location came about after a Burns Park resident approached Brinkerhoff and Sample about creating a new market in his neighborhood.
"He saw an abandoned building in a vibrant neighborhood and thought it shouldn't be that way," Sample says.
Brinkerhoff and Sample coached the man and connected him with the builder they used to remodel their West Liberty location, but he ultimately decided he wasn't in a position to quit his job to take on opening a market. But by that time, Sample says so much effort had been put into the new market that it seemed a shame to let it go to waste. So she and Brinkerhoff stepped up to turn the building into a second Argus location.
The new business will bring the building at 1200 Packard full circle, as it was a neighborhood market from the 1930s through 1960s. Sample says Burns Park is ideal for Argus in many ways.
"We felt it would support the business model with enough people who care about local food and enough of a population to support the coffee bar, for that sense of community," she says.
Sample says her main goal is to strengthen the local food ecosystem, and she hopes the Argus model will spread around the country. She says she gets so many inquiries about how to set up a similar store in other communities that she hopes to someday soon build a portal on the Argus website to help interested parties figure out if it's feasible in their communities.
"We put about $1 million into the hands of farmers every year at our current location, and I think we can duplicate this in our other store," Sample says.
Sarah Rigg is a freelance writer and editor in Ypsilanti Township. You may reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo courtesy of Argus Farm Stop.