ThinkFresh Group specializes in the design of permanent micro-retail markets. Our team has a deep understanding of these concepts, with comprehensive data on small, start-up and pop-up enterprises. We offer design and financial modelling services that combine business rigor, community engagement and creative place branding to create destinations.
Projects that we have worked on help to enhance the vibrancy and appeal of a location. Previous projects include Market 707 – Toronto’s first shipping container market and the Honest Ed’s Alley Micro-Retail Incubator – part of the redevelopment of Mirvish Village.
Marketplaces for micro-enterprises exist around the world. From street markets to night markets, many cities have spaces for micro-enterprises to start-up and flourish. These space are vibrant and lively gathering spaces where the community comes together to shop, dine and converse. Many of these spaces and systems have evolved over time, although some like the Hawker Centres in Singapore and Hong Kong are specially designed and supported by the government.
Historically, there were many public marketplaces in Toronto. In the early days, every city ward would have one – remnants which can still be seen today in St. Lawrence Market and the old St. Patrick’s Market on Queen. As the city developed, small businesses operated out of people’s homes, and street vending developed very organically – Kensington Market is a great living example of this. In the modern era, many of these spaces disappeared to be replaced with formal street level shops and indoor shopping malls.
Lately, there has been a resurgence in interest for micro-enterprise. The buy local movement, combined with a large foodie craze and interest in creating more resilient community economies has driven a surge in farmers markets, food trucks, pop-up and community markets happening all over the city. As designers with an interest in city building, we are working at the forefront of this to bring together the right creative energies, combined with business rigour and local economic development strategies that will enhance communities around the city and support this growing urbanism movement.
Interested to learn more? Check out some of projects below or connect with us.