Written by: Rebecca Voigt | Photography by: Chris Arace
When The Rust Belt Market opened its doors in May, it brought an innovative new concept to the metro Detroit art and retail communities. Housed in the 5,000 sq. ft., long-vacant former Old Navy space at the corner of Woodward and Nine Mile in the heart of downtown Ferndale, The Rust Belt Market provides local artisans, crafters and designers an affordable brick-and-mortar marketplace to exhibit and sell their work “ think Etsy in your backyard.
The brainchild of Tiffany Best and her husband, Chris, the idea for the market started off as a consignment store concept, but it evolved into the market model after going to art fairs in southern metro Detroit and Detroit proper and seeing all the talent and not really seeing a place for them to sell and be in control of their sales on a regular basis, Best says. Now, up to 68 artists can be found at the Rust Belt on any given weekend, selling everything from Lego art to vintage clothing as local indie bands serenade shoppers from the stage in the center of the market.
Open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday, the Rust Belt uses a curatorial approach in selecting the vendors for each weekend, with an emphasis on quality. We're really concerned with integrity, Best says, noting that the market will never sell out to the cell phone covers and pocketknives typically found at flea markets. We're just really excited because we think that we have a lot more to offer as far as weekend markets in Michigan, she says.
To apply for space at the Rust Belt, potential vendors fill out an online application and can then choose a single day, full weekend, or four-weekend reservation, with 2D artists also having the option to hang their work gallery-style for a month on the market's walls. Vendors can reserve as much time as they want, as long as they are a fit for the market and they continually keep their space fresh, Best says. That's really important to us “ to not have it be completely the same each weekend so there's always something new for people to come back to.
The Rust Belt also plans to host specialty markets, such as a jewelry expo, and will participate in Ferndale's Third Thursday late shopping nights, as well as other local events. We definitely want to be involved in the community outside of the typical Saturday and Sunday market hours, Best says. It's going to be a very grassroots movement.
The Rust Belt Market is open every Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
22801 Woodward Avenue, Ferndale rustbeltmarket.com