Ferndale's Rust Belt Market Seeks Support for New Event Space

The artisan market wants to expand its business model to host events during the week in a 4,000-square-foot isolated space inside the market.

The Rust Belt Market in Ferndale announced Wednesday that it is seeking support to expand its business model to include a new space for weekday events.

The artisan market, which in May 2011, is home to 60 local artists every weekend.

Rust Belt owners Chris and Tiffany Best said leasing such an "anchor" space in Ferndale at the corner of Nine Mile and Woodward but being closed five days out of the week has been somewhat of a business flaw.

But opening the market during the week doesn't work either - artists need time to create things, many vendors also have day jobs, and there simply aren't enough weekday shoppers to make it work.

The Bests are looking to change all that by building an isolated, 4,000-square-foot event space in the middle of the market. The project will cost $20,000 and they have set up a campaign on the crowd-sourced funding site Kickstarter to hopefully make it happen.

Chris Best said they have been continually approached by groups who want to host events at the market - everything from Oakland County meetings to sewing classes, yoga and album release shows for local bands.

And in May, the Rust Belt will be a venue for the Metro Times Blowout - which is expanding to Ferndale.

"People have been asking us like crazy for the last year and a half, can we lease the space for a whole slew of different things," Best said.

People can donate to the fund now through Friday, March 22. The project will only be funded if at least $20,000 is pledged by that point; if the goal is not met, supporters are not charged.

"We're completely excited," Best said. "We're kind of scared but we know that it's a necessary thing to keep growing and to be sustainable."

Rising costs due to incremental rent increases for the building's lease is part of why expanding the business is so important, Best said.

"We can either pass that along to our vendors or we can come up with an alternative way of raising revenue," he said. "If we start raising rent on the vendors then they are less likely to participate and then the whole thing kind of falls apart."

The Rust Belt would stay open during renovations and hopes to have a grand re-opening the first weekend in May. The market plans to reorganize its layout so that only four vendor spaces are lost in the redesign.

"They have blown everybody away," Ferndale Mayor Dave Coulter says in a video posted on the Kickstarter campaign page. "We're really proud of them."

Crowd-sourced funding was also used in January to help fund a major expansion at Treat Dreams in Ferndale.

The $20,000 the Rust Belt is seeking will be used to buy materials to build the walls, complete electrical work to provide lighting in the space, and add bathrooms. The project will also ultimately lead to the Rust Belt being able to hire its first employees. Find full details here.

Read more on Patch about the Rust Belt Market.

agirlabouttown February 21, 2013 at 05:13 PM
the dollar store property owner is asking an insane amt for the space. i've heard talk of chopping it up for smaller storefronts
monte February 24, 2013 at 04:13 PM
I don't get how this "new plan" makes this business an all week business or how begging for 20k makes it work better.
Sparky February 24, 2013 at 10:45 PM
It doesn't, Monte. The owners will figure that out after they've completed the project, like they did when they opened the first time. In their own words..."leasing such an "anchor" space in Ferndale at the corner of Nine Mile and Woodward but being closed five days out of the week has been somewhat of a business flaw." Only then they'll say the flaw was cutting their space by a third and that 4k feet of space is useless M-F. But hey...at least the space isn't vacant. <sarcastic>
Alan Stamm March 17, 2013 at 12:49 PM
Chris + Tiffany Best reached the $20,000 goal late Saturday night (March 16)! http://bit.ly/WwCauV


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