A Fed Ex truck parked across the street. Eli Massar excused himself and went out to greet the delivery driver. He opened the market’s front doors and helped the driver carry boxes full of shelving into the store. Then the building inspector arrived, and Christopher Thomas stood up to show him around. Massar came back to the table, and before long the exterminator showed up to inspect the store. The exterminator assured Massar that he could work around the hubbub.
And so went a recent morning for Massar and Thomas, co-owners and soon to be operators of Local Market and Café. It opens today (Nov 21) at 5 p.m. in the former Woolworth building on the corner of Haddon Avenue and Collings Avenue. The grand opening celebration is scheduled for next Friday (Nov 28). The Local Market and Cafe name reflects the duo’s local-first mentality. The store’s products will come mostly from local farms, distributors and artisans. Ditto for the materials that comprise the store itself.
“For the food,” Massar said, “it makes sense to go local, from a business and taste perspective.”
The pair will purchase in-season produce from farms in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. They will get their off-season produce from warmer parts of the country, but through a local vendor in Lancaster, Pa. Their dry goods will come mostly from a distributor in Medford, N.J. The store will also offer wine-by-the-bottle from Auburn Road Vineyard in Pilesgrove, N.J.
The coffee bar and café tabletops are made with old floor joists and were crafted by a carpenter in the Fishtown section of Philadelphia. The wooden frames around the chalkboards that will display product names and prices were crafted from the old wood flooring from Benny’s Burger Bar that was in Local’s space until late last year. Even the refrigeration equipment is local; it came from a supplier in Northeast Philadelphia.
As for their coffee, the store will always serve java from Rojo’s Roastery of Lambertville, N.J., as well as a rotating stock, which initially includes coffee from Collingswood’s Revolution Coffee Roasters and Fishtown’s ReAnimator Coffee.
In addition to food, coffee and wine, Local Market is going to offer cooking classes, nutrition talks and other programs, inviting people to the store for more than just shopping.
The owners want to make the market a communal space, Massar said, where residents on their way to the PATCO station can stop for coffee and breakfast before work and pick up dinner on the way home. Weary parents can grab a snack and coffee in the café and plop their kids in the in-house playpen for a half hour.
“You want to get a coffee and feel human again,” Massar said, “so you can get a coffee and drop your kid over there [in the playpen].”
The last grocer in Collingswood, National Food Market, shut its doors two years ago. That space – on the corner of Haddon and Washington avenues just down the street from Local Market – is slated to become a McFarlan’s Market in the Spring of 2015, a more conventional grocer with a location in Merchantville.
Local Market won’t be competing with conventional grocers on price. Massar and Thomas admit that you can find cheaper product elsewhere. What they want to bring to the table is quality and reasonable portion sizes. “If you’re going to force us to put a label on it, it wouldn’t be Wegman’s,” Massar said. “It’ll be like an affordable Dean and Deluca, or Di Bruno’s but with more variety.”
Below is a sampling of the brands that Local’s will carry. This is just an initial offering; the brands and products will change over time but still will always be from local sources, Masser and Thomas said. (List and words below provided by Christopher Thomas)
Leidy’s Nature’s Tradition Pork – Pa.
Bell and Evan’s Poultry – Pa.
D’artagnan -Charcuterie, Beef, Sausages, Pates, and Foie Gras – N.J.
Koch’s Turkey – Pa.
Aspen Ridge Beef – Colorado (Most cattle ranches are in the Midwest or the West. We are searching for a local beef source carried by our distributors that is natural.)
All our meats that we will be serving in our prepared foods and in the market are no-antibiotic, no-growth-hormone products.
Deli meats will come from above meat vendors and will be made in house.
Produce:All produce will be from local distributors, and we will carry in-season local produce – both organic and conventional – from Pennsylvania and New Jersey farms.
Artisan Cheeses will come from: N.J., Pa., Md., and N.Y.
Trickling Springs Milk – Pa.
Pequea Valley Yogurt – Pa.
Andrew and Everett Cheeses – Pa.
Big-name organic or non-GMO brands:
Back to Nature
Big-name local brands
Rojo’s Roastery Coffee – N.J.
Revolution Coffee – N.J.
Re-animator Coffee – Pa.
Bassett’s Ice Cream – Pa.
Capogiro Gelato – Pa.
Ella’s Kitchen Baby Food – N.Y.
Steve’s Paleo – N.J.
Fresh Tofu – Pa.
Ray’s Seitan – Pa.
Konto’s Pita – N.J.
Boylan’s Soda – N.J.
Inko’s Tea – N.J.
Honest – Md.
Snack Factory – N.J.
Unique – Pa.