Saline residents Jen and Zack McPherson plan to open an artisan market in the former home of the Drowsy Parrot.
McPherson Local, scheduled to open in June, will feature locally-made and locally-sourced artisan foods and small business products.
(On the web at http://www.mcphersonlocal.com)
On Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/McPhersonLocal)
“We’re shifting back to the idea of shopping small, shopping local and giving people a real simple shopping experience,” McPherson said. “We believe there is a growing movement for supporting small businesses and small farms. I’m very passionate about where my food comes from, what I feed my kids and who makes it.”
The McPhersons live in Saline with their 14-year-old daughter and eight-year-old son. Buying local isn’t just only about social responsibility and taste, it’s about health.
“When you look at some foods and look at their ingredients, you can’t even pronounce most of the them. I think it was Michael Pollan who said, ‘If your grandmother wouldn’t have it in her cupboard, get rid of it,’” McPherson said. “With how fast-paced everything is, you can’t do it (eat locally-made and sourced food) all the time. But it is possible.”
Right now, McPherson Local has 25 local vendors lined up to provide jams, syrup, honey, flour, coffee, tea, hummus, eggs and other food. McPherson Local will also sell natural bath and body products, natural laundry products, art and ceramics.
“We want everyone in the community to see we have awesome products, made right here,” McPherson said. “They’re made the right way with the right ingredients. We want small businesses and small farms to have a platform to introduce what they’re working so hard on. We want people to know their neighbors put a lot of love in what they are making.”
She said the majority are located in Washtenaw County. She has a couple vendors from Grand Rapids.
One vendor is Saline resident Sicily Giacalone, who makes hummus.
“Some of the vendors we have, you can find at markets in Ann Arbor. A lot of it is word of mouth. I hear from a friend who says, ‘Hey. I love this hot sauce. Can you check this out?’” McPherson said.
When McPherson investigates a food source, she wants to know their story. And she plans to share the story with her customers. One way she’ll do this to invite vendors to do workshops on topics like pie making or canning.
When they open, the McPhersons plan to staff the store themselves and see if business grows enough to hire help.
“Right now it’s a family business and we hope everyone will bring their families in,” McPherson said.
The McPhersons have lived in Saline for six years and Jen has worked in the community for 13 years. She has a degree in communications and public relations and she’s worked as a preschool teacher. Zack is a construction superintendent. He’s remodeling the old building, which for years served as Saline’s public library.
She said the building, owned by Keith Larder, is in good shape. The Drowsy Parrot closed in April of 2014. She plans to maintain the Drowsy Parrot’s quirky, hippy aura.
“We are going to maintain the integrity of the Drowsy Parrot space. That’s what drew us to the space,” she said.
The shelves and wooden floors will remain. The wooden parrot is gone but the McPhersons plan to restore a painting of the parrot.
“That’s important to the community. Everybody loves the Drowsy Parrot,” McPherson said. “We want to open the doors and bring in a new business. But we don’t want people to walk in and say, ‘You’ve changed it.’ Historically, the inside of that space is gorgeous.”
Since they’re selling food made the old fashioned way, the McPhersons want a building with an authentic feeling.
“We want the feel of a rustic mom and pop store that you would have shopped in years ago,” McPherson said.
McPherson Local will have different models for different vendors.
“If they’re comfortable with a commission-based vendor, that’s what they are doing for them,” McPherson said. Vendors interested in selling at McPherson local can email Jen@mcphersonlocal.com .
McPherson Local is the first of three new businesses that will be announced on North Ann Arbor Street. Across the street in the old Oxygen Plus building, the owners of Tecumseh’s Boulevard Market are opening a store specializing in cheese. A new sweets shop is planned for the old Detroit Dog space, now owned by barber Bill Stolberg.
Mayor Brian Marl said city residents will be happy to see a new business in the Drowsy Parrot space.
“Ever since the Drowsy Parrot closed, people have been very concerned that the space would languish in perpetuity,” Marl said. “I think there’s broad consensus in the community that (The old Drowsy Parrot) space has a lot of character and a lot of charm and they want to see it filled.”
Marl said McPherson local is the ideal fit for the space.
“She has the passion and the expertise to pull this off and make it very successful for her and her family, but also provide something for the community,” Marl said.
Marl said people are becoming more conscious about the foods they eat and believes McPherson Local will be benefit many Saline residents.
Marl is also glad to see the North Ann Arbor Street vacancies filling up.
“One of my primary focuses as Mayor has been working on business attraction and retention. Small businesses offer so many tangible businesses to the community,” Marl said.
For more information about McPherson Local follow its Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/McPhersonLocal.