By Sherri Wierzba:
The West Side Bazaar is up and running at their new location at 25 Grant Street just south of West Ferry. The bazaar features merchants from India, South Sudan, Rwanda, Ivory Coast, Burma (Myanmar), Peru, and the U.S. It is a perfect place to find a unique gift or conversation piece for your own home.
All are encouraged to come check out the West Side Bazaar during the “Peace, Love, & Grant Street” event on Thursday, December 6th from 5 – 8pm. Peace, Love, & Grant Street is a holiday shopping and celebration event designed to encourage people to shop, eat, and explore the Grant-Ferry business district. West Side Bazaar will have music and free food samples (while supplies last). It is also a stop on the trolley route that night.
More than an international marketplace, the West Side Bazaar is a business incubator that is part of the overall community and economic development efforts of the West Side. It is helping to foster an entrepreneurial climate, while creating foot traffic and networking opportunities in the neighborhood. And like most incubators, the bazaar helps its businesses graduate or outgrow the incubator and find their own retail space in the community. Two businesses have graduated since its inception in March 2011, Global Villages and Sasmita Batik. Global Villages is now located at 216 Grant Street, while Sasmita Batik is downtown in the Market Arcade.
Westminster Economic Development Initiative Inc. (WEDI) is the non-profit behind the West Side Bazaar. They provide business assistance and mentoring before, during, and after incubation. WEDI, founded by Westminster Presbyterian Church, is not only encouraging entrepreneurship, but is working on retaining businesses once they graduate. They are currently working with 22 merchants at the bazaar and an additional 100 entrepreneurs that have expressed an interest in opening a business on the West Side.
Come the end of December, four food retailers will be added to the bazaar. Nosh on a plate of Ethiopian, Chinese, Burmese or Peruvian cuisine as you browse the unique offerings of the bazaar or pull up a chair at one of the dining tables. Free parking is available behind the building or on Grant Street.
Do you want to help make a difference on the West Side? The West Side Bazaar is currently looking for volunteers and mentors to get involved in their efforts. Contact Ben Bissell at email@example.com or check out their website here. Store hours are Tuesday through Friday from 11am – 6pm and Saturday 10am – 5pm.