Erie's new Westside Market on Powell is the place to be for all things local
Upon entering the newly established Westside Market on Powell, you are greeted with rows of soil-less planters and vertical grow towers that sprout vibrant lettuces and herbs, like walking into a greenhouse. This is a showcase of owner Amanda Hines' specialty: hydroponic produce.
Hines, a 2021 40 Under 40 honoree who also owns No Dirt Farms, a hydroponic farm in Fairview, explains that her customers were looking for a brick and mortar location to buy her produce, but no such thing existed. "It has always been like a dream of mine to open a market, not quite this large-scale, but to open a market and for people to see hydroponics," Hines says. Thus Westside Market on Powell was born. According to the company website, the goal of the market is "to support local communities, promote environmental stewardship, and provide access to high-quality, nutritious food."
Along with her own hydroponics, Hines has partnered with over 50 local farmers, vendors, and artisans from across the tri-state area to make the market a convenient location to get a wide range of local goods. "It's very difficult for people to go to each farm and support their local farmers," Hines explains. "So coming here, this is a one-stop shop."
In a study titled Where Do "Localphiles" Shop?: A Mixed-Methods Case Study of Food-buying Habits, Emily McKee states that interviewees identified inconvenience, particularly having to visit multiple places, as one of the barriers to purchasing locally-grown food. "A lady just said at the cash register, 'You have all of my favorite things that I love to go and get and I just don't have all the time to get to all of those places,'" Hines says, recalling an interaction with a customer. "And I'm like, that's exactly what we're doing!"
Some of the farmers and vendors sharing the space with No Dirt Farms' hydroponics include Post Apples Farm, Live and Learn Farms, Steel Toe Farm, Gordon's Meats, Northern Scoop Ice Cream, Ohio City Pasta, Till Top Creamery, Hogs and Honey LLC, and more. Customers can also find local artists including woodworkers, painters and other artisans throughout the space. "Jewelry, paintings, crafts, food, candles, you name it, we're trying to get it," Hines says.
On a Wednesday afternoon in October, the market is lively. Customers stroll around and visit the cafe for lunch, sitting at the tables interspersed in the store with their meals. The cafe features drinks, smoothies, toasts, salads, and paninis with written descriptions on chalkboard menus. Hines points out that many of the items in the cafe have ingredients sourced directly from the market itself. "The chef will ask me for fresh basil. I go out, and from the towers I cut the fresh basil, and boom! It's on a sandwich," Hines says.
The Westside Market also features a refill-ery, a zero-waste approach to buying household items such as soaps, cleaning agents, and personal care products. "It's kind of innovative for Erie, but it has been very well-received too. People are really excited about it," Hines says. "You can bring your container here, fill it up, and then you're only using what you need. You don't have to buy more than you need."
Though the Westside Market on Powell is still a new business, Hines has some ideas for the future of the market. "We definitely want to do some farm to table dinners here," Hines says. For next year's spring and summer season, Hines hopes to utilize the outdoor space behind the building as well. "I think it would be awesome to have some events here, live music, tables outside; I definitely would like to make that happen."
The Westside Market on Powell is located at 1119 Powell Ave. // Hours: Wednesdays through Fridays, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. // westsidemarketerie.com
Alana Sabol can often be found snuggling her cats or baking at Herb and Honey on the weekends. She can be reached at email@example.com.