As a steady stream of motorcyclists make their way past BoomTown Market at 351 W. Western Ave. in downtown Muskegon Thursday evening, one bike passenger points to the grocery store’s sign and, amidst the roar of Harleys and Rebel Road revelers raising beers at Unruly, yells, “Boomtown! Yeah it is!”
A family eating a picnic dinner nearby hears this, and a parent, their lap filled with pretzels and a baby, pumps an approving fist in the air as the motorcyclists disappear down Western Avenue.
It’s this sentiment—and this whirlwind of downtown activity—that is giving BoomTown Market owner Dana Precious wings as she prepares to celebrate her shop’s grand opening at 8am on Friday, July 19.
“I’m kind of speechless, honestly,” Precious says Thursday evening in regards to BoomTown’s debut. “I’m really proud, and I’m grateful to be a part of this new Muskegon. I feel like my hometown welcomed me back with open arms.”
Precious, who grew up in the Muskegon area and whose family owned and operated the Port City Princess cruise boat for about three decades before selling it last year, left her longtime career in Hollywood to return to her hometown with her son about two years ago. It was, to say the least, a fairly terrifying decision—after all, she was heading to a place where she had no job and no idea what the future held in store for her.
“It’s scary to make a move across the country, but I can honestly say I have not regretted moving from Los Angeles to Muskegon one bit,” says Precious, who is also a published novelist. “I knew I was jumping off a big cliff when I left. My mom has a magnet that says, ‘Leap and a net will appear.’ Sometimes, you have to trust it’s going to work out.”
And it has, indeed, worked out. After arriving back in Muskegon, Precious was inspired by the momentum she saw happening downtown and wanted to build upon that with a grocery store that would be as much a place to buy milk and produce as it would a place to spend time with friends, meet new people, and grab a chair to read the paper and watch the outside world.
“I call it the anti-grocery store,” Precious laughs. “I want people to have chairs by the window and hang out and watch the snow. I don’t have aisles; it’s not a grocery store with fluorescent lights and a linoleum floor. You’re welcome to come and hang.”
After months of research—including soliciting input from residents and visiting grocery stores across the state—the past few weeks have been something of a whirlwind. Originally, BoomTown had been slated to open in a 1,800-square-foot space inside the High Point Flats at 285 W. Western Ave., but the space was ultimately deemed too small and Precious signed the lease for her new venue about three weeks ago. She too recently received a $55,000 loan from the city of Muskegon to support the store’s debut.
Now, as the shelves fill, reality is setting in; it is the beginning of BoomTown, a place where, Precious emphasizes, all are welcome: for the food, of course, but also for conversation, for events like poetry readings and draq queen bingo, for the beer and wine tasting room, for warming your hands by the shop’s fireplace.
“I’m really proud to be a part of this incredible, thriving, vibrant community, and I hope I can make this a community space as much as it is a grocery store,” she says.
As for the food in the 3,200-square-foot venue that takes up the first floor of the Lake View Lofts, it’s an eclectic array, with much of it hailing from Muskegon: breakfast and lunch sandwiches from Morat’s, cookies from 490 Bakery, Ice Box ice cream, goods from What’s Your Jam, Pigeon Hill beer, and more. The grocery store will continue to evolve as well: next week, the shop will add produce from Muskegon area farmers, meat from The Meat Block, and fish from the Fish Monger’s Wife.
“We’ll be under construction for about two to three months, and during that time we’ll be growing and expanding to become the vision I’ve expressed online, which is a full-service family grocer,” Precious explains.
For those who are interested in attending the grand opening tomorrow, BoomTown Market will debut at 8am on Friday, July 19 and is expected to close at 10pm. But, Precious notes, “If it’s rockin’, we’ll stay open ‘til the cows go home.”