*Detroit Bookfest would not have been possible at Eastern Market without the love and support of Eastern Market Manager Lonni Thomas*

 

Detroit is a great American city and the Eastern Market Neighborhood is one of the top retail districts in Detroit and one of the top food hubs in the USA.

The Eastern Market District has been around since 1891 and contains over 250 businesses and the entire neighborhood is growing at a rapid rate.

 

Eastern Market (c. 1930’s) photo courtesy of Wayne State University

 

Eastern Market is a phenomenal resource and destination spot. I cannot imagine the City of Detroit without Eastern Market, that’s how important the Eastern Market District is to the entire Greater Detroit community.

The five Sheds at Eastern Market are large consumer buildings and total around 165,000 square feet of space, which is used as both wholesale food market on some days and rented out for a wide variety of public & private events on other days.

Eastern Market Manager, Lonni Thomas, has been a pivotal figure at the Market over the past few years and this is her tale.

 

Biography

Lonni Thomas, Eastern Market Manager

 

“I was born and raised in Detroit. I love working at Eastern Market! I also like to read, write, dance, etc. I also love going to poetry slams. To me, poetry is so emotional and effective and listening to different poetry live can really have an impact on you by making you think differently about things.”

 

Aerial View of Detroit, Michigan USA

 

Lonni Arrives at Eastern Market

“I was adopted into the Eastern Market Corporation family in 2010 as a Farm Stand Fellow. I used to do the food assistance tokens program here, which is designed to help people have greater access to fresh produce. Through that I gained several great relationships, including Dan Carmody and Doshia Barton.”

“I used to volunteer at the EMC office on weekends. Then in 2011, I graduated from Wayne State University and needed a job. The woman who used to design t-shirts for Eastern Market was in transition and before she did, she helped get me into her position and I started designing Eastern Market gear and apparel. Progressively, I started creating relationships with Eastern Market vendors.  And as the variety of my responsibilities increased, I started spending more and more time at the Market.”

“I had office experience from my days working as a WSU Student Assistant, so I began shadowing the Sunday Market Manager at Eastern Market in 2014 because she needed an assistant. A few years later, through a series of gradual internal promotions, I was given the Sunday Market Manager position in 2016. Since then we have increased our footprint significantly and sustainably.”

“I also coordinate the Tuesday Market Community Programs and the Thursday Night Market.”

 

Eastern Market 101

Map of Eastern Market SHEDS

 

“Eastern Market is a historic urban public market. Overall, the Market is robust and vivacious and can get real busy. The Market is a great, safe atmosphere, no matter what day you come visit. We attract a very diverse group of people and the Eastern Market District has a wide variety of merchants.”

“Eastern Market is run by the EMC. The Eastern Market Corporation is a non-profit that was started in 2006 to manage Eastern Market. The City of Detroit owns the land and used to run the Market prior to the formation of the EMC. A group of urban planners pitched the idea of revitalizing the Eastern Market District. The city loved it and let them take over the Market.”

“Our 150-acre expansion plan is in the works. Building on our food hub nickname, the plan is designed to help build the food innovation mission we have and create over 3,000 jobs by 2025.”

 

Map of Eastern Market District

 

“We also have a brewery in our neighborhood now, the Eastern Market Brewing Company. And recently, Henry the Hatter moved from Broadway to Riopelle, just down the street from the EMBC.”

“One thing I love too is that artwork has become very prevalent throughout the District, especially the Murals in the Market series.”

“Murals in the Market has helped create over 100 murals in the district, making us as we say an ‘international public arts destination, while creating a world-class outdoor gallery of art’.”

“Many people want to know how they can open a brick-and-mortar storefront here in the district. I always tell them to contact the owners of the building they are interested in.”

 

The Legendary Dan Carmody

Dan Carmody, President of Eastern Market Corporation

 

Dan Carmody is the President of the EMC. Working with Dan is fun! He’s been responsible for my growth and helping to push me to get certain projects done. He doesn’t burn you for failing, he burns you for not trying.”

“In that 1999 movie ‘Life’, there’s a scene where two guys are standing on coke bottles, trying to keep their balance. That’s what it’s like working with Dan, he’s unpredictable daily, constantly and you appreciate the sense of unexpectedness.”

“Having Dan here is like having some zen monk here at Eastern Market who makes you think about things differently. Watching him give speeches about the Market and how he delivers our mission, it’s remarkable.”

 

Eastern Market’s Largest Events

Eastern Market Flower Day @ 6 a.m.

 

Eastern Market Flower Day started in 1967. The event is only one day long but averages 150,000-200,000 people. We do it in conjunction with the Metro Detroit Flower Growers Association. Flower Day opens everything, it’s the start of our season, the market starts blooming.”

Eastern Market After Dark started in 2010. It’s a creative arts event that we do in conjunction with the Detroit Design Festival. We get about 25,000 people for it.”

 

Detroit Festival of Books (aka: Detroit Bookfest)

 

The Detroit Festival of Books, also known as Detroit Bookfest, is an incredibly positive and popular event. The very first year, there were well over 10,000 attendees, which is just wild for a first-time event to have that many people there.”

“People are excited and curious about Bookfest. Everybody wants to sell books and records and other stuff at it. I get asked almost daily if Bookfest is still accepting vendors, it’s crazy how many people are interested in the event. Bookfest is one of the top vendor events we’ve ever seen in the city, everyone wants to be a vendor. It’s a true phenomenon.”

“Detroit Bookfest this year might have over 20,000 people.”

 

Lonni’s Favorites

Burger @ Cutters Bar (photo courtesy of Yelp)

 

Here are some of Lonni’s favorite go-to eateries in Detroit:

Basement Burger Bar (1326 Brush St) for the turkey burger and the mambo burger

Cutters (2638 Orleans st) and Café D’Mongo’s (1439 Griswold St) are her favorite bars

Stache International (1416 E. Fisher Service Dr) for the Southern Belle sandwich

Andiamo’s (400 Renaissance Center) Italian food inside the RenCen while overlooking the Detroit River

2941 Street Food (4219 Woodward) Fantastic Mediterranean food from a world-class chef

 

Lonni’s Final Thoughts

Lonni Thomas

 

I love Detroit. I was born here, raised here, still live here. I’m here until my cup runneth over. Detroit’s revitalization has been in the making for at least 10 years.”

“We’re witnessing a tremendous transformation right now stemming from a plan created by people who have been business owners for a few decades here.”

“Detroit is often called “the city that grew from ashes” a few yeas ago but in actuality our house never burned down fully because we have such a strong foundation.”

 

 

Eastern Market Weekly Market Days

Tuesday Market

9am-3pm

 

Thursday Night Market

5pm-10pm

 

Saturday Market

6am-4pm

225 vendors; 40,000 guests

 

Sunday Market

10am-4pm

 

Lonni Thomas clownin’

 

Eastern Market Homepage

https://www.easternmarket.org/

 

Maps of Eastern Market

https://www.easternmarket.org/district/maps

 

List of Businesses in Eastern Market

https://www.easternmarket.org/district/directory

 

4th International Mural Fest with 1xRUN in September 2018

www.muralsinthemarket.com

 

Dan Carmody’s article on the Market 

http://detroitisit.com/eastern-market-more-than-125-years-in-the-making/

 

Eastern Market’s 2025 Strategy Plan

http://wxystudio.com/projects/planning/detroit_eastern_market_2025_strategy_plan

 

E & B Brewery Lofts (Located in the Eastern Market District inside the old Eckhardt & Becker Brewery which brewed beer here 1891-1969) 

http://e-bbrewerylofts.com/

 

Eastern Market (c. 1930’s) photo courtesy of Wayne State University

Eastern Market (c. 1930’s) photo courtesy of Wayne State University