The Grand in Grand Rapids, Michigan

By Amanda Cleary Eastep

Grand Rapids Farmers Market

Touted as the “most vibrant downtown between Chicago and Cleveland”, Grand Rapids is…

Hm…not  the most enticing description from that official travel site. But then I haven’t been to Cleveland.

In fact, over the years, I’ve only scratched the surface of Grand Rapids. The highlights on our recent trip to visit my friend were 3 for 3. (Great planning, B!)

Grand Rapids Farmers Market–Oh, how I love a great farmers market.

The vendors’ tables overflowing like cornucopias. (Photos by Meg)

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As with a visit anywhere, our favorite thing to do is engage in conversations with unique people.

Lady Floyd, her dreadlocks contained in her head wrap but her enthusiastic spirit boundless, was our first welcome to the gauntlet of vendors. Her handcrafted jewelry was something we couldn’t pass up. Meg is wearing the necklace we bought.


We stayed to share some of our stories and struggles. She is, as she pointed out, the only African-American vendor at this market. Meg asked to have her picture with her after their fourth hug, and Lady Floyd accommodated us after we promised not to put it on Facebook, the prerequisite for participation she once believed to be nudity.

“I, mean, isn’t that where that Anthony Hot Dog showed his stuff?” she asked.

My daughter chatted with other vendors, too, including the woman who makes wreaths because she had a dream in which God told her to…


…and the young, curly-headed organic farmer who gave her a swig of his freshly squeezed beet juice. “We drank out of the same bottle!” she said. What could possibly be more romantic?

Fingers aching by the time we worked our way back through, I left weighed down with veggies, sunflowers, and a huge bag of kettle corn under my arm. The staples.


Phil’s Antiques and Collectibles

I love real people. And I love searching for treasure. Kind of like a nice pirate.

So my friend knew I would love Phil’s on Wealthy Street. I knew she was right before I even walked in the door.


(B said the mannequin used to be naked and sitting on a stuffed donkey. Sorry I missed that.)

If you enjoy sifting through stacks of stuff, shelves of sh*$, and basements of … possibly man eating spiders … you’ll dig this place. And dig you will.

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I could have spent more time and more money but ended up with four beautiful silver plated spoons I’m looking forward to polishing and eating my oatmeal with. B says Phil will barter, but it was my first time, so figured I wouldn’t push it.

“How you paying?” he asked as I set my four spoons, a brass lamp part, and a tiny wooden figure on the counter.


“OH, real money,” he said.

I think he likes me. “Yep, printed it fresh this morning for you.”

He let me have the wooden figure for free.

Wealthy Street Bakery

Shopping is hard work. So down the street we headed to Wealthy Street Bakery. It was one of those times where you’re so hungry you forget to take pictures for your blog before your gobble down a massive “half” a chicken salad sandwich on perfectly baked bread. And an Intelligentsia coffee. And a scone.


For a couple of past restaurant highlights, read this post about GR and Saugatuck.

Holland, Michigan

No wooden shoes, no service

I hadn’t been in Holland yet, so we made a quick stop in the beautiful, cobble-stoned downtown to pop into the high-end (for me) shops and galleries. As much as the streets were buzzing with visitors on this nearly perfect mid-Sept. day, my shopping mojo just wasn’t feeling the cute fall leaf magnet for $13. I’m just a Phil’s kinda girl.

I did enjoy the fair trade goods at The Bridge where we spent most of our shopping time enjoying the unique clothing and crafts. But not even that could revive my mojo, and my mind was back dipping it’s toe in the cold water of Lake Michigan.

Feeling winter creeping it’s way into my September in Chicago, my spirit was gasping for one last breath of wide-open space. I knew the Michigan shoreline would rejuvenate us.



Thanks for hitting the road with us…

Bonus pic!

At the farmers market, I noticed I shared something in common with an elderly lady, so I nonchalantly stood next to her while Meg snapped this shot. I’m not sure what this says about my taste in fashion.




  1. Amanda, Beautiful pictures. It happens to me all the time – I am so hungry and the food looks so good that I forget to take that perfect picture for a blog post (and then kick myself). Hilarious last shot. 🙂

    1. Thanks, I’ll tell my daughter, she’s usually the photographer. We were cracking up about that last shot. Thank you for reading!


  2. Bethany K · · Reply

    How did I miss this post? Love! Great pics, great prose, and great memories. Love you, friend.

  3. Idk! Feel free to share. 🙂 It was a wonderful day. We’ll plan another next year!

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