It wasn’t long ago that Van Pelt Alley was quiet and in need of some improvements. Luther Kurtz had a vision of how to improve the alleyway, his idea was to create The Mercado. If you visit today, you will immediately notice a vibrant alleyway full of people, music, stores, and so much more. The Mercado hosts a variety of family friendly events, street performers, and more. If you walk by on a summer night, you will see people enjoying this once neglected alleyway. Learn how Luther Kurtz made his vision a reality in our Q & A with him below:
Why did you want to be a small business owner? I’ve wanted to be a small business owner since I was very young. I always wanted to run my own business. After several attempts, I understand the benefits of running a small community business.
Why did you choose to open a business downtown Charlevoix? My wife and I love Charlevoix and wanted to contribute to the downtown experience. We saw an opportunity to revitalize, repurpose, and reimagine Van Pelt Alley.
Tell me a little bit about your business. The Mercado is a collection of shops opened mostly by young entrepreneurs who enjoy working together in a community environment. We saw an opportunity to take a dull alleyway and turn it into something new and exciting. Each of the businesses in the Mercado is a unique reflection of retail shops and restaurants.
What do you enjoy most about living and working in the Charlevoix area? What’s not to love, it’s amazing here! Charlevoix is a dynamic city with lots of great things going on year-round.
What is something unique about your store/business? The Mercado space was created out of mostly unused and neglected buildings. Our business exists to create space for other businesses to serve the public with food, entertainment, shopping and services. It's a very fun environment to be a part of.
How would you describe downtown Charlevoix? Fun, comfortable for walkers and bikers, enjoyable, and a place for the community to connect.
How has Main Street helped your business? It has improved the downtown environment. Main Street has helped connect businesses to the resources that they need and created programs that support business owners.
What’s your favorite thing about your business? Seeing all the people enjoying themselves at different shops or eateries. When people are visiting the Mercado, it’s awesome to see them experiencing all that the alley has to offer.
What’s your favorite Charlevoix event? Since Oktoberfest takes place in the Mercado, I’m going with Oktoberfest, but Venetian is a close second.
Is there anything else you would like to add? A big thank you to Main Street and its volunteers for all that they have done for the community.
Van Pelt Alley Before: