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McPherson Local

At the Hub of a Growing “Shop Local, Shop Small” Movement in Saline

Downtown Saline is fast becoming a prime destination for shoppers seeking out artisanal foods, handmade crafts, and other unique finds. This past year has seen the openings of four new one-of-a-kind stores, all within short strolls of each other, near Downtown Saline’s four corners:

  • McPherson Local is an artisan market focusing on fine locally produced foods and crafts.
  • The Cheese Shop of Saline trades in just what its name suggests – plus sandwiches, deli meats, crackers, breads, olive oil, wine, and craft beers as delicious as the store’s signature cheeses.
  • Sweet Leilani’s is a bakery and café, with a market coming soon. The specialty here is sweets and treats using fresh ingredients. The shop adds a little touch of “aloha” to all they offer.
  • The News Arts & Antiques spotlights collector-quality pieces in beautiful displays. It’s in the building that, for decades, housed The Saline Reporter newspaper – hence, the name.

These new businesses have joined other specialty shops that have long brought locally oriented, quality-minded customers to Downtown Saline. Pineapple House and Cobblestone Rose are local institutions, offering distinctive home décor, furnishings, and gifts – while Maureen’s Designs has become known throughout the region for the freshest flower arrangements and plants.

Business in Saline - McPherson Local from SCTN on Vimeo.

Jen McPherson, with her husband Zack, owns and operates McPherson Local. “Our concept,” she says, “is to encourage people to eat healthier, and to shop local and small. The products we sell can truly mean something to our customers, because they come from producers in our own community, region, and state. They’re businesses our customers will want to support.”

Michigan-made food items on sale at McPherson Local come from such notable nearby sources as the Detroit area’s Calder Dairy and Zingerman’s Candy Manufactory in Ann Arbor.

You’ll also find everything from Tall Paul’s Pickles to Cynt-sational Popcorn and Detroit Friends Potato Chips. The latter snack item made the list of Oprah’s Favorite Things in 2016.

Plus, McPherson Local carries fresh-baked treats from the delightful Matty J’s Bakery and Café, recently nominated by as Michigan’s best bakery. Matty J’s is just about a mile east of Downtown Saline, among a well-trafficked string of shops on Michigan Avenue.

You’ll even find the eagerly sought-out Trenary Toast, from the legendary Trenary Home Bakery in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. McPherson Local is also one of the only area retailers of Shimmy Shack, which originated as Michigan’s first 100% vegan and gluten-free food truck.

Other regionally produced food items not commonly found at other markets include: Gus & Grey jams, jellies, preserves, and marmalades; craft coffee from Milan Coffee Works; honey from The Sand Hill; organic teas from Arbor Teas; and maple syrup from H&H Sugarbush.

McPherson Local’s fare doesn’t stop with food. The store also carries, among fun pieces of merchandise, Saline-themed mugs and pillows, children’s books from regional authors, and works by local artists. The latter includes the delightful custom artworks, especially for fans of the Michigan Wolverines, from the Ann Arbor illustrator Meghann Powell.

Community members inclined to buy local and small have come to view McPherson Local as a favorite meeting place. The store hosts regular events – sometimes to showcase local artisanal businesses, such as Matty J’s, and other times simply to share interesting and inspiring information. A recent sold-out workshop, conducted by Pop Fizz Klink Designs of Chelsea, Michigan, explored hand lettering techniques. At other times, the store has had a tarot card reader perform readings for McPherson Local customers onsite.

Why did the McPhersons select Downtown Saline for their store? One reason was opportunity. “We loved the Drowsy Parrot coffee shop that had been in this space for so long,” Jen says. “The great location, beautiful architecture, and warm character just called for something new here.”

Another reason is the McPherson’s obvious love for Saline. They moved here from Dearborn seven years ago, and their two children, ages 15 and 9, are thriving in Saline Area Schools. Jen says, “Saline takes the family-friendly, small-town values from its roots as a farming community, and combines them with the up-to-date amenities of a modern progressive town.”

That, per Jen, is an appealing package – and one that seemed ripe for the McPherson Local concept. She says, “Along with the Cheese Shop, Sweet Leilani’s, and others, we’re out to bring more people downtown for shopping, dining. And entertainment. These are the kinds of healthy, community-building experiences our friends and neighbors just can’t get anywhere else.”