Hiller's Market, which bills itself as southeast Michigan's largest and oldest family-owned grocery chains, will be the host of the inaugural Michigan Foods Fair this month at its 52,000-square-food Union Lake store in Commerce Township, Mich. The event will take place March 21 and March 22.
The fair is just the latest initiative in the grocer's strategy of championing local products, which has also included featuring Michigan companies in its biweekly circular, launching a collaborative "Hometown First" program with locally owned businesses and identifying Michigan products with shelf tags.
The not-quite-one-year-old store will feature over 30 vendors displaying home state products, including flatbread, cereal, milk, meat and even cleaning supplies. Participating companies run the gamut from such familiar names as Kellogg, Boar's Head and Jiffy baking mixes to local heroes like Dearborn Sausage Co., Better Made potato chips, Beirut Bakery and Charley's Ballpark Mustard
"Buying and selling Michigan products boosts the local economy," explained Hiller's CEO Jim Hiller. "That helps our state economy and the families who live here. I have always been dedicated to working together with good people and good companies close to home."
Among the hundreds of Michigan brands Hiller's carries are Garden Fresh Salsa, Pioneer Sugar, Guernsey Farms Dairy, Olga's Kitchen, Bareman's, Better Made, Hamilton Eggs, Old Orchard juices, Michigan-grown navy beans and Polly's Pastries.
Every vendor at the fair will demo their product, provide samples for shoppers to taste and exhibit signs with information about where in the state the company is located and how many people work there.
"Jumping on the local food bandwagon is a good idea for so many reasons -- we can trace the path our food takes from origin to the family table, we can encourage industry development and growth, and we can insure that our economy has varied sources of entrepreneurship," said Hiller.
When asked by Progressive Grocer whether the fair would become a yearly fixture, a company spokeswoman replied, "We have no definite plans, but it would be very nice to make this an annual event."
Southfield, Mich.-based Hiller's is a 68-year-old company that currently operates seven stores, with an eighth scheduled to open this year.