Co-Retail for Artists: The Rust Belt Market Shall Live Kickstarter

By Amanda Lewan on February 21st, 2013 / Comments

The Rust Belt, not the physical space representing the Midwest but a marketplace of artistic belts, clothing, and other locally made goods, is looking to expand their community.

This unique retail marketplace focuses on providing affordable brick-and-mortar space in a year-long market open every weekend. Similar to other community co-working spaces, it offers a place for artists and creatives to sell their goods on the weekends and grow before launching a full-time creative business.

The small businesses inside the marketplace flourish in a community of artists and creatives.

But the Rust Belt Market wants to be more than a weekend store, they want to have their doors open to local artists, makers, and community members every day of the week. And they need help to expand.

They’ve launched a kickstarter called The Rust Belt Market Shall Live Not By Weekends Alone.

Launched two years ago the marketplace now has over 60 artisan vendors each weekend. Tiffany Best, Co-founder of the Rust Belt, shared their story with us.

How does the Rust Belt Market serve Michigan creatives?

“We cater to small-creative based businesses primarily from Michigan. All products must be either handmade or locally produced. We do allow vintage goods and wears to be sold, but it must be a curated collection of good quality,” said Tiffany. “All of our vintage collectors have a precise eye for it and operate as a business.”

“The market promotes the local economy by providing these creative business owners a consistent place to set up shop and grow a customer base face-to-face. Our model is an alternative to consignments, fleas, and outdoor art festivals, but many of the vendors who participate at The Rust Belt also participate in those outlets as well,” said Tiffany.

“Others have used the market as a starting point and have since bought or leased their own independent retail space. It’s a great feeling knowing The Rust Belt played a part in their continued success.”

What’s been your favorite weekend, event, or experience at the Rust Belt Market?

“Holidays are definitely a magical time at The Belt. Really, meeting new people, seeing them grow their businesses and get excited about new products or ideas inspires us, and that’s our favorite part of what we do,” said Tiffany. “After a successful run of a few last year, we’re bringing back 3 Food Truck Rallies this year. The first of which will be May 4th. Thinking about warm weather, good food, and the company of friends and community in a cool environment makes me anxious for Spring.”

How important do you feel it is to support local Michigan businesses and artists?

“Creative-based businesses and artists are such a vital key to Michigan’s future. I think often times we mindlessly buy goods cheaply made overseas, but our own creatives can make superior goods and the money spent stays in our state. A rich, vibrant culture should be just as important as technology and the two really have to work together to make things that are sustainable and user-friendly.”

“Art goes beyond a print on a wall. It’s interconnected with our everyday functionality and prosperity of Mi.”

How do you feel expanding the Rust Belt will help grow this community?

“By building an event space, we are expanding what The Rust Belt can offer. We would love to be open for shopping M-F, but the foot traffic does not yet support our many artisans throughout the week. This event, or “flex” space, is both a short term solution for growth and a long-term vision for growing the possibility of opening the market element during weekdays.”

“By creating an event/all-purpose space, we can capture interest and reach out to larger groups of people who may not usually venture into Ferndale or The Rust Belt. Some events will take place on the weekends after-hours, others during the week. We hope to host workshops, local bands, fashion shows, gallery openings, weddings, showers, corporate meetings, and other happenings that are outside of the typical,” said Tiffany.

“It will further community involvement and help the Rust Belt become a stronger anchor for Ferndale and the creative community we cater to.”

Anything you’d like to say to our readers about the Rust Belt Market?

“We thank everyone for their kind words, posts and interest and involvement in this next step.  Operating the market isn’t glamorous, so it’s easy to get discouraged, but the support of the community–people caring about us and what we’re doing both near and far–keeps us going and planning for a stronger future.”

“We’re always accepting new applications online! Not all spaces are filled each and every weekend. We make sure to keep flex space for people who have not committed to either 12 or 24 weekends. Some artists set up simply for a weekend or two. Some rotate throughout the year.”

Make sure you visit the Rust Belt Market in person and also online to check out that awesome kickstarter.

All Photos and Videos via Rust Belt Market.

About the Author

Amanda Lewan

Amanda Lewan

Editor @michipreneur. Co-founder Bamboo Detroit. Follow me @Amanda_Jenn. I love telling the story of entrepreneurs and innovators.