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Jan 5, 2007 02:24 PM

Midtown Global Market MSP - It's Up To Us

This article appeared in yesterday's strib about how MGMkt is not doing well because of a lack of traffic:

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  1. I just read that article and I'd like to know more about whether all of the stores are hurting or whether it's just the non-restaurants. Occasionally we've picked up meat or veggies there but I find them overpriced and with poor selection. I'd never head there just for groceries and I'm not sure they'd have what I was looking for. Same with the flower shop, it always looks a little sad. If they had more bright, beautiful bouquets out front I'm sure I'd pick one up.

    I personally love MGMkt and really hope it survives but it also seems a bit off to compare it to Reading Terminal or Pike Market which are extremely bountiful and overflowing with beautiful meats and produce. I guess it's a chicken and egg problem - can we get more attractive goods without the crowds to support it? Actually, when I was there for the craft fair it was absolutely packed. Perhaps that type of 'hipster' goods are more what their clientele wants versus what's there now.

    4 Replies
    1. re: katebauer

      We went to the new Asian restaurant in the MGMkt and had a great time. The service was great and we each had wonderful meals. We took advantage of the bar and the bartender shook up some mighty fine martinis. It was relaxing and they were open until 10 which was nice. We hope the Global market can get it together. Some of the merchants don't really seem like smart business people. It is too big of a place to be just a farmers market - it truely is a business center and the people that start shop there need to have some business skills to survive. I am sure the market will go through some phases before it all takes shape and some will work and some won't. Customer service is number one and cleanliness is right up there. Time will tell but it is pretty predictable as to who will be there in the year 2008.

      1. re: Friedrichs

        Is that Chang Bang, the pan-Asian place owned by the same folks who own Yummy? They were just setting the restaurant up 5-6 weeks ago when we were last there--it looked interesting. I can't wait to try it. I'm glad to hear that you liked it. However, I'm most excited to hear they are open until 10pm on weeknights--as you can see from my other posts in this thread, MGMkt's early weeknight closing time of 8pm was one of my frustrations.

        I also agree with your point that MGMkt is too big a place to be a full-fledged farmer's market. I think the key advantage to a consumer is that there are lots of different vendors under one roof. The spaces are too small for all the markets to be comprehensive in their particular cuisines, and the restaurants don't have full kitchens, but, you can get a wide-variety of high-quality foods in a single stop: produce, meat, poultry, fish, dairy, and so on. You can pick up hummus at Holy Land deli, bubble tea from United Noodle, hand-pulled mozarrella from Jakeeno's, hand-harvested wild rice from Birchberry, ...

        I thought that the organization behind MGMkt was serving as a small-business incubator/advisor to the merchants there, but, maybe it was just to get them started and, now, they are on their own.


          1. re: Friedrichs

            It's the native American shop next to Cafe Finspang. If you walk down the West-most aisle (closest to Chicago), you'll run across it. It's not perfectly in the south-west corner (that's where the Mexican bakery is), but it's close.


            EDIT: they also have a lot of Native American crafts, so, you might mistake it for more of a gift-shop. But, they also have teas, syrups, jams and wild rice products (likes soups and pancake mix.) Also, some interesting looking cookbooks.


    2. I haven't shopped there for produce, etc, before, but I plan to this weekend, based on this article.

      Coming from Philly, I can attest to the fact that the the meat and produce suppliers at Reading Terminal Market feel a big squeeze from the prepared food providers. They just don't make the same kind of money. There were similar articles during many of the restructurings that Reading has gone through.

      1. The produce is great and at a good price also. The meat market needs a course in customer service. I asked if they could special order something for me and they said they would check and get back to me. I never heard a thing. The next time I was in there I asked about it and they said they were sorry. Didn't offer to check on my request. It's hard to support someone that blows me off. The food also leaves something to be desired. The two times I ate there it took 20 min or longer to get my food. Hard to stop in for lunch with limited time. They either need to limit choices or somehow speed up service times. One time I saw them put my order on the grill 15 min after I ordered. There was only one order in front of mine.
        I think they may have made it to easy for some of the people to go into business. I wonder who reviewed business plans. Parking also is a problem. Minnesotans don't seem to like to pay for parking. They now are adding free spots for the market, I hope that helps. I like the concept of the market and hope that the lack of people problem is cured.

        14 Replies
          1. re: FishMPLS

            I've heard that there is free parking, but we've never been able to identify where the free parking is. Is this a new thing or are we just clueless? Where is it?


            1. re: The Dairy Queen

              In the ramp to the east, even though you need a ticket, it doesn't charge you anything ot part there. Also, in the lot to the west, even though there are meters, it says on each one that parking is free there for Midtown Market.

              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                Parking is free on the weekends if you park in the "main" lot (in front of the entrance). But on weekdays, you must plug lots 'o quarters in the meters.

                Tip: Street parking is free after 6 - I think - every night. I park in front of Uncle Edgar's/Uncle Hugo's and go in to buy a pile of books (which are my passion), then walk over to the Midtown Global Market for dinner and shopping.


                P.S. I just gotta put in a plug for the AMAZING wild rice from the Birchberry booth. (It's the rice from Native Harvest/White Earth Land Recovery Project - with the brown label.) This rice is so good that you'll want to throw out the rest of your dinner and just eat the rice. I think I'll have it for breakfast tomorrow....

                1. re: AnneInMpls

                  I love that wild rice, too. We pick up a lot of gifts (which have been well-received!) at Birchberry (like the wild rice pancake mix and blueberry syrup) and at MGMkt in general. Lots of fun, unique gifts to be found there, much of it food-related.

                  Thanks for your clarification about the parking--we tend to go to MGMkt on weeknights to avoid the crowds. I understand that they are particularly hurting on weeknights. It's practically a ghost-town during weekday evenings.

                  I don't know Uncle Edgar's----is it close enough that you can lug your purchases back from MGMkt? I always bring a canvas bag to lug my purchases when I go to MGMkt.


                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                    I believe you get 2 hours free in the main surface lot after 5. When they first opened they put up a sign as you entered the lot. All I know is that I've never paid for parking there - perhaps I was just lucky!

                    1. re: katebauer

                      Hmmm, when you say the "main surface lot"--you mean the one right one the corner that isn't covered? We always go into the ramp: maybe that's our problem. (Given all of the confusion over the "free" parking even among us, I'm beginning to think the problem isn't us. They need to make it more clear.)

                      Another thought about MGMkt--it's practically a ghost town on weeknights, so that's when we like to go. But, the truth is, it's not really open late enough for us, which means we're less inclined to go on some weeknights because we know we're going to be rushed out of there at 8pm, and, really, many of the merchants start wrapping up 15 minutes to a half hour before that.

                      I wish they were open until at least 9pm on weeknights. I realize there's a window of down-time around 5-6pm after the Allina employees depart, but for those of us who don't work in the Allina building, it takes a while to get home from work and hussle across town to MGMkt. We really have to rush to get there by 6pm and, on those occasions, it's because we've planned in advance to go; it's seldom spontaneous.

                      We're more likely get there between 6:30-7pm on a weeknight. If you want to explore AND eat AND shop, you feel too rushed. It's not a lot of time, especially if you want to wander a bit to see what's new before you decide which restaurant to eat at. Because of the variety, it takes you 15 minutes to decide whether you feel like a torta, or if the dinner special at La Sirena Gorda looks tempting, and to check out whatever new place has opened since you were last there, and so on.

                      Plus, I hate to say it, but some of the merchants on the weekday evenings are clearly bored and their customer service ethic goes out the window. Sadly, this just turns consumers off even more. I remember one time I was there in the evening and I couldn't get anyone's attention at one of the stands, even though there were several people behind the counter. Mopping.

                      So, if they want to attract the evening dinner and shopping crowd on weeknights, they should probably make some adjustments to attract the non-Allina folks.


                    2. re: The Dairy Queen

                      Oops ... meant to reply above. Moving my post...

                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                        [Oh, I guess I used the right reply link - I'm just confused today...]

                        Uncle Edgar's and Uncle Hugo's are two bookstores in one, across the street from the MGMkt (on Chicago Ave, next to the "bridge"). Uncle Edgar's is a science fiction bookstore, and Uncle Hugo's is a mystery bookstore. They have both new and used books, and they have a handful of other books, too (including a cookbook or two, if they have a mystery or SF or fantasy tie-in). They're wonderful stores, and I love that I can combine a book-shopping trip with a visit to MGMkt! (Shopping for books always makes me hungry...)


                  2. re: FishMPLS

                    Funny about that. It must not be free all the time or they just changed the rules. I had to send them $10.00 for not feeding the meters. That was 2 weeks ago. Sounds like they need a better PR firm so people know whats up. I do hope they prosper.

                    1. re: ibew292

                      We were there last weekend and we saw no evidence of "free parking" until we got out of the car, fed the meters and got to the entrance. $1.50 down the drain.

                      1. re: jlawrence01

                        Signage outside is very bad. Tip for future trips - park in the multi-level lot, then bring your ticket in for validation with purchase (not sure of the qualifying amount, but it's not a lot).


                        1. re: AnneInMpls

                          On weekends parking is free in the ramp - no purchase necessary.

                          1. re: AnneInMpls

                            Whatever the minimum is, it's less than the price of a haurache @ Ocampo, or a tamal @ Loma, or a bag of dates from Farm in the Market as I've been validated while just buying those things. To be honest, I do not think there is a minimum, it's just a stamp on your ticket.

                  3. Yeah, I read that, too. Such a bummer.

                    Maybe it's time for Midtown Global Market Chowdown II. (Here's the report from Midtown Global Market Chowdown I:)

                    If anyone's interested in a spur of the moment Chowdown next Wednesday, January 10, please contact me at the e-mail address in my profile. I'm going to limit this group to 8 Chowhounds(because of the logistics of the venue), but if there is more demand, I will ask for volunteers to lead the "overflow" Chowdown, same date, same venue, just a separate table of 8, separate kitty, and separate sharing of dishes so it doesn't get too crazy. Maybe we'll have "dueling Chowdowns." :


                    If there's a critical mass of people who were at the first MGMkt Chowdown, I might group those people together so they can try dishes not tested before as, (I think) Danny previously suggested.

                    So, when you contact me, please let me know if you're willing to be the coodinator of the "second" group of 8, if necessary.

                    I anticipate the logistics of this Chowdown to be similar to the previous MGMkt Chowdown:

                    ~Please bring $10-$12 in cash in small bills ($5's and $1's, if you can) with you to throw in the shared kitty at the beginning of the evening. We will take turns drawing from the kitty to buy "shared" dishes for the table to try.
                    ~Please expect to share food. I'll bring some knives to "split" dishes.
                    ~Please plan on paying for your own drinks out of your own pockets (not the kitty) separately.
                    ~You might want to bring a pen and paper to make notes of what you tried, what you liked, what you didn't like. I like to bring my digital camera, too, to help me remember.
                    ~You might bring a canvas bag to carry any purchases you make at any of the shops--there's lots of shopping opportunity at places like Holy Land Deli, the produce places, etc.
                    ~After the chowdown is over, I will post a "Chowdown report" thread with, as best as I can remember, a listing of what we tried and ask everyone to chime in with their thoughts.

                    That's it!

                    Oh, one more thing--please don't discuss logistics of the Chowdown in this thread--e-mail only please. It apparently creates headaches for the mods if we discuss logistics... (Of course, please continue to discuss MGMkt!)

                    Thank you!


                    1. I also tried to special order something from the meat people and never heard from them...

                      MGMkt is in a part of town that doesn't get a whole lot of traffic, especially tourist traffic (unlike Seattle's Pike Place market). I don't think it's reasonable to think there will be support for grocery vendors (though it appears to me that the Mexican butchers on the east side are doing well).

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: plautus

                        Aren't there a couple of "meat" vendors at MGMkt?

                        Farm in the Market (featuring Bison etc.) and Bymore Meats (Bymore is MGMkt's Mexican meat market, which someone, MariQ, I think though my apologies if I'm misattributing, said previously that her husband was really happy with and becoming a favorite in her household?


                        Which of the "meat" people at MGMkt have you been unhappy with plautus and ibew: Farm in the Market or Bymore?


                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                          Not unhappy just confused. It was Farm in the Market. I want them to prosper. I think they need a mentor.

                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                            New meat market opening in the old Farm in the Market spot. They hope to be open on Monday. I hope they prosper but they seemed to have a lack of knowledge on parts of a cow.

                            1. re: ibew292

                              THis is terrific news! I mean the first part, about the new market opening. Not so enthralled about the lack of cow parts knowledge, though. Still, I'm hopeful. Thank you for the head's up!