What Happened With Mercado? – Revitalization Looks to Dust Off After Setback!

The concept behind Mercado originates in the artisanal food bazaars of Europe and Asia, where dozens of local vendors operate small, and quality-focused - Photo via www.indiegogo.com

The concept behind Mercado originates in the artisanal food bazaars of Europe and Asia, where dozens of local vendors operate small, and quality-focused – Photo via http://www.indiegogo.com

If the Buffalo Revitalization Movement had a mission statement, it would probably be something like this: “Dedicated to improving our home towns in Western New York, our mission is to make great food accessible to Buffalo and its many suburbs, bringing a revolutionary new culinary destination to life for our community.” This quote was taken directly from the Kickstarter page Buffalo’s multi-dimensional culinary market, Mercado (http://www.mercadorevolution.com/). Sadly, as their most recent tweets (https://twitter.com/MercadoWNY) have indicated, founder Jeremy Horowitz and his team have nearly completed all refund requests processed through Indiegogo.com. The utopian realization of an all-encompassing market/food court/public square has waned and all but diminished, and Buffalo is left wondering why.

Lake Effect Ice Cream was one of a few places being vetted to sell their wares - Photo via artvoice.com

Lake Effect Ice Cream was one of a few places being vetted to sell their wares – Photo via artvoice.com

Recently, Buffalo has become synonymous with innovation. Our Canalside projects, along with a plethora of microbreweries and distilleries, are the subjects of national attention. Buffalo Sabres owner Terry Pegula, and his partnership group have demonstrated an unrivaled commitment to the City of Buffalo. The combined vision of the great innovators who have conceived of these public gathering spaces, bier gardens, and social havens, has put Buffalo back on the map. Mercado was poised to join the list of the new faces of Buffalo, and their words of dedication echoed those heard all over the city. As Chef Scott Kolig states in their Kickstarter video, “This isn’t just about us, it’s about doing something great for our community.”

The concept for Mercado was an amazing tribute to similar businesses found all over the world. Equal parts fresh foods market, unique dining choices, and public meeting spaces, the intention of the founders was to provide Buffalo with amazing food choices where only excellence was acceptable. Horowitz desired to offer a nearly limitless selection of fresh ingredients for Buffalonians to experiment with in their own test kitchens, as well as take-out selections prepared by the finest chefs the area has to offer. Kolig envisioned holding classes for Buffalo residents, educating the region on food and wine. Mercado was to be an ideal public gathering space, where families would come to experience the world in their own little city.

Coffee bar at one of the Mercado Locations worldwide! Photo via www.buffaloeats.org

Coffee bar at one of the Mercado Locations worldwide! Photo via http://www.buffaloeats.org

As important as the idea was, it is perhaps more important that Mercado planned to utilize this space to promote local businesses. According to their vision, Mercado intended to offer products from Lake Effect Ice Cream (http://www.lakeeffecticecream.com/), Lloyd Taco Trucks (http://whereslloyd.com/), The Pasta Peddler (http://www.pastapeddler.com/), The Bavarian Nut Company (http://www.bavariannut.com/), and more. The opportunity for local businesses to grow along with this market incorporates another ideal of the Buffalo Revitalization Movement, one that I’ve heard from each of the business owners I’ve spoken to. Ultimately, we’re all in this together. The growth of one business cultivates new interest in our city, and then our products – and Buffalo is the beneficiary.

On Tuesday, August 12th, the familiar whine of a flatline was audible around the city of Buffalo. Mercado tweeted to its followers, “After months of hard work, we’re processing full refunds for every @MercadoWNY backer. The details are here. https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/mercado-western-ny-s-artisanal-food-market

This is the tweet put out by Mercado on August 12th, alerting people to the refund status. Photo via twitter

This is the tweet put out by Mercado on August 12th, alerting people to the refund status. Photo via twitter

Collectively, jaws dropped. Hearts skipped beats. The meteoric Mercado had passed through our atmosphere, leaving only a vapor trail and a post on Indiegogo (https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/mercado-western-ny-s-artisanal-food-market). Citing bottlenecks with vendors, Horowitz and his team felt that these issues altered the original plan enough that moving forward would be doing a disservice to those who supported Mercado. They indicated they would begin the refund process – an occurrence which rarely occurs with such crowd-sourcing projects; so infrequently that Indiegogo has no process, and the Mercado founders had to reach out to PayPal and Square Cash to process the refunds to their backers.

The news from Mercado stings – it downright hurts. The Revitalization Movement has been a veritable juggernaut, garbed in a ‘One Before I Die’ t-shirt, steam-rolling obstacles and plowing through red tape. The innovative group behind Mercado isn’t going away. “Mercado’s entire team is working on something wonderful together, but it will be different, and we will not launch another crowdfunding campaign for it.” What’s Going On In Buffalo will be keeping an eye on Horowitz and his crew. We are very excited to see what they’ll have to offer, and when they are ready, Buffalo will be here to support them once again. Buffalove isn’t just a state of mind; it’s a way of life for city residents who are proud of the amazing turn our city has taken recently. It’s a plywood shield, bolted to a brick façade. It’s the hard-earned money of local investors who see a unique vision and go all in, and it is the visionary, recognizing the amazing support he has and making sure he does right by his supporters.

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4 Comments on “What Happened With Mercado? – Revitalization Looks to Dust Off After Setback!”

  1. supersweetshirts August 14, 2014 at 9:29 am #

    Marcado failed because they didnt do proper crowd funding research, and their initial promo video was insulting to the city. The kickstarter promo video showed the same rundown, stock, poverty images of the East Side, where it talked about how no good chefs want to come here, and how they are basically going to save us. It was ridiculous and looked like it was done by someone who had never even visisted the city. The idea was cool, if the execution wasn’t so terrible. The people here in this city take pride in the city, nobody was going to watch that promo video and go, “Yeah! Our city is pure crap, and there is no good food here! We need a group of prentious cooks to come in and open a market so that we have access to good food.”

    • erikwollschlager August 14, 2014 at 9:33 am #

      It did what it was supposed to do – between the 2 funding sites, they met their goal. People believed in the vision, and I still think it’s a great idea. Perhaps the experience was a bit humbling; we’ll see what they have to offer next.

      • supersweetshirts August 14, 2014 at 9:47 am #

        Agreed, its a pretty awesome idea, I’ve seen markets like that in bigger cities and they are a destination, loads of people, etc. That promo they ran left a bad taste in my mouth though.

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  1. Mercado’s Meteoric Rise | ewollschlager - August 14, 2014

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