Ann Arbor’s new Constellation Collective, a curated grab-and-go food market, opened Monday, Jan. 7 in Nickels Arcade. The new marketplace aims to provide local, wholesome food to the community.

Constellation Collective uses a cooperative model to to provide food space for anyone who doesn’t have their own restaurant or storefront and grants small businesses marketing and branding support. Their goal is to introduce these products to customers who may not otherwise be familiar with certain food businesses.

The venue sells a wide variety of food, providing local restaurants and vendors with refrigerator shelf space while allowing the vendors to maintain complete ownership over their products. Cofounder Nick Lemmer says the Nickels Arcade offers the perfect opportunity to reach a new community with a lot of surrounding activity.  

“Nickels Arcade is such a unique place in the landscape of downtown Ann Arbor,” Lemmer says. “It has an eclectic mix of retail shops that work so well together to create an awesome all-in-one shopping destination. We are trying to give businesses that don’t have a downtown presence the ability to get their brands and tasty food in front of all the different types of people that frequent downtown. If our members are successful, the collective is successful.”

Backed by a team of Ann Arbor residents and University of Michigan alumni, the staff has a wide variety of work experience in the food industry. Constellation Collective has several co-founders, including Max Steir, founder and owner of Salads UP; Alex Perlman, former music festival food cart operator for The Beet Box and Cheese Dream; Jared Hoffman, partner of Salads UP; as well as Lemmer, a cofounder of Ioria’s Gelateria.

Public Health alum Danielle Butbul, director of community relations for Constellation Collective, said the Collective will be holding regular lunchtime pop-ups in collaboration with other food businesses. The pop-ups are recurring events and are expected to begin as early as next week.

“We have several lunchtime pop-ups in the works with Harvest Kitchen and Pilar’s Tamales,” Butbul said. “During these pop-ups, customers will be able to come by and grab a fresh, warm and quick meal served by the hosting company. We also hope to collaborate with our neighbors in the arcade to activate the space for larger community events.”

LSA sophomore Marley Duerst maintains a vegan diet and believes she will benefit from the market because of their variety of gluten-free and vegan-friendly options. She hopes it will be a convenient place to grab quick and healthy food.

“I think it’s really exciting that there is a place located so centrally on campus,” Duerst said. “Easily accessible fresh food is hard to come by in a downtown area, so I’m really looking forward to trying out this place. I try not to eat processed food, and I love eating produce, so it will be nice to have such a convenient place to get it.”

With just a full week since their regular hours began, Butbul said the business has drawn significant local attention.

“Within the first week, we’ve received so much love, encouragement and even received flowers from our neighbors at the University Flower Shop and Bivouac,” Butbul said. “We managed to sell out of most of our members’ food and will be ramping up our deliveries to meet the demand. We would definitely consider it a successful first week and we can’t wait to grow and carry out the lunch pop-ups and other events planned for the arcade.”

There are currently six members partnered with the collective, including Better Health of Novi, Fluffy Bottom Farms of Chelsea, and Harvest Kitchen, Juicy Kitchen, Salads UP and Tasty Kitchen, all of Ann Arbor. Butbul says the number of partners will continue to grow.

“We’re continuing to grow the roster, with special consideration to include companies and food items requested by customers,” Butbul said.

 

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