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From local boutiques and restaurants in two thriving downtowns to large corporations, Racine and Kenosha are home to some of the best local commerce around. One such venue is the Kenosha Public Market (KPM).

The year 2020 set records in many arenas, including local business hardships. But just like the phoenix rising from the ashes, positive growth was also seen during the infamous time that many refer to as the “year that didn’t happen.” In fact, Kenosha Public Market was borne from the COVID-19 pandemic in April of 2020.

A Market for Vendors

In a time when something as simple as heading to a local farmers’ market for fresh produce was removed from calendars, KPM began an online market as a way to connect local farming families with the public as meeting face-to-face was no longer an option. With so many hurdles in the way of what normally would be considered a smooth run, KPM had much to deliver for local merchants needing a way to stay in business.

One area in which KPM exceeds expectations is how it serves the vendors. At the onset of the pandemic, farmers and other local vendors were looking at a bleak future where no markets could be open for them to sell their products and keep their businesses afloat. The online farmers’ market was the answer they were desperate to find. KPM provided the resource to keep vendors and customers connected.

Moving forward, the possibilities of a dually-present (online and in-person) market bid very well for those who have an interest in owning their own independent small businesses. As their website states, “KPM is a catalyst and incubator for micro-enterprises, entrepreneurship, small farming enterprises and community-supported agriculture through the operation of year-round community markets, with an online presence.”

Many members of the Board of Directors are also vendors with KPM. They volunteer their time and efforts, gaining no revenue from the market as a whole. This means that vendors are able to keep more of their hard-earned dollars from their time at Market.

A Market for the Public

Kenosha Public Market isn’t just a good place for vendors to set up their booths, it is also a terrific place for the public to experience the bounty of local products offered both in-person and online. KPM2GO is an efficient and user-friendly way to shop for the items you need, with the option for order pickup at the physical market.

One under-tapped resource at KPM is the “Market Match” program. SNAP recipients can use their food share cards to purchase eligible items, and KPM matches up to $20 of your food share dollars spent. Funding for this program comes from private donors, including KPM vendors. This makes your food share dollars go further while still being able to purchase healthy, locally-sourced fresh foods.

With a lineup averaging 50 vendors during the outdoor summer market, and around 30 vendors during the indoor winter market, there is something for just about everyone. Vendors sell traditional produce offerings, handcrafted items, hot food for lunching right at the market, and more. There are homemade pet treats, soaps, repurposed journals, clothing – the list keeps going. A diverse sampling of live music sets the mood for all to enjoy while shopping and dining, at both outdoor and indoor markets.

Let’s Talk Indoor Market

This year, KPM moved indoors on November 6 and will remain indoors through April 30, 2022. For this time, KPM is located in downtown Kenosha at The Vault, located at 625 57th St. The market is open from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. every Saturday. (Keep reading for special holiday information.)

While the winter months don’t provide the range of fresh produce as the summer growing season, there are vendors who are staples at KPM, some with growing capabilities year-round.

This is just a taste of what each of these vendors has in store for shoppers at every market, and the market is teeming with many other vendors with a wide selection of quality products.

Merry & Bright

For the holiday season, KPM has two locations in downtown Kenosha where you’ll find vendors from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. on Saturdays:

  • The Vault, 625 57th St.
  • PUBLIC Craft Brewing, 628 58th St.

This Saturday, Dec. 4, Santa will be at The Vault from 11:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. for photos. Face painting and free gift wrapping are also offered, as well as holiday beverages – free hot chocolate for kids, and holiday-themed cocktails for adults.

Make a day of downtown shopping as you visit both KPM locations, have lunch from one of the prepared food vendors and enjoy the best of our local entrepreneurs while stocking up for your holiday gift-giving.

Merry & Bright continues Dec. 11 & 18 as well. Check their vendor lineup as some of them change.

COVID-19 safety measures are implemented at KMP. Masks are not required for entry, but are encouraged, and are available for those who request them.

Credit: Kenosha Public Market