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Recently the news broke that Kingma's Market had been put up for sale. A number of people I know have been speculating on the reasons for the sale on social media and wondering what would happen to this food gem.
Kingma's is an independent grocery store located on Plainfield between Cheshire and Marywood in the Cheshire business district. The Kingma family has been in the grocery business in one way or another in Grand Rapids for nearly 100 years. They sell fresh fruits and vegetables year round, with bulk apples, squashes and pumpkins in the fall; seedlings and perennials in the spring and summer and Christmas trees in winter. They keep their focus on local produce and products, which Michigan is lucky to have an abundance of. Kingma's has its own butcher shop with a very helpful and friendly staff. If you walk by the store on certain days you can smell the meat smoking. It's very pleasant.
Kingma's has the largest selection of cheeses in the area. They also carry 750 fine wines including 150 Michigan vintages. They offer 380 beers as well, with many specialty and craft brews to choose from. Essentially, if you are looking to stock your party table, add something special to your meal or treat yourself, Kingma's deli and beverage sections are your place to go in Grand Rapids. No one I know wants that to stop, but continuing a business can be a tricky proposition, particularly when it has a specific sort of offering in a rather generic grocery market. A lot depends on Ed and Bob Kingma finding the right buyer.
The best news in all of this is that the Kingma family is not looking to sell immediately. This gives the right buyer some time to step out from the woodwork. They also have time to make their business less owner dependent and thus more attractive to a buyer. The problem is not profitability, per se, it's the transferability of what makes Kingma's unique. There's a certain organization, a comprehensiveness to the Kingma's experience. It seems to be worldview driven. It's sort of like a food library: you can take a guess at whether a certain cheese or herb will be available based on what other products the store carries.
The store's commitment to local products stems from this as well. Kingma's carries a variety of Michigan products, not just organic or grass-fed. It doesn't offer a Midwestern experience or a hipster, granola or elite food one. It just has a great collection of products for people of all different backgrounds to sample.
For the store to continue on appealing to its current clientele, the owners and staff behind Kingmas will have to transfer that knowledge of how to create this experience to the new ownership. And to get a good price for their business, they will have to demonstrate that they can.
My fingers are crossed.
Rachel Potter has lived with her family in the Riverside Gardens neighborhood for 16 years. She is passionate about better living through food, exercise, sleep, herbalism, and community building.
Reports on: Food, herbalism, dogs, Creston