Forward Eats MSP: Grassroots Gourmet

If the Twin Cities gave out an Employee of the Month award, I’m pretty sure Vicki Potts would have won it several times over. The owner of and face behind the counter at the Grassroots Gourmet booth in Midtown Global Market, this woman is committed to her work on every level.

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A transplant from California many years back, Vicki’s upbringing by a mother who bought her groceries primarily from the small farms near which she lived inspired Vicki to create a business centered on local products. “Midtown Global Market is about food and goods from around the world, and the world includes your backyard, so I think it makes sense to be here,” she explained. Her booth is stocked with every specialty food item imaginable, from local soda to pasta to cheese and meat and candy and hot sauce (including Isabel Street Heat, who Vicki nominated for my next post). “I just like really clear, straightforward flavors,” she explained. “It’s not like I ever felt like I had to eat that way, it’s just what I enjoy and enjoy sharing with others.” Her booth gets especially busy when the lunchtime crowd passes through.

Tucked in the heart of Midtown, Minneapolis, Midtown Global Market is perhaps the hippest spot in an area many would consider to be much less than hip. Vicki lives just across the street from the market—a good thing, considering she staffs her booth 7 days a week—and is very clear about her love for her community.

“I tell people I live on the corner of Chicago and Lake and they look at me like ‘whoa, where’d you go wrong in life.’ But it’s just a huge range of incomes, and ethnicities, and it works fine. It’s just the way it is. It’s very calm; very un-self-conscious. I like it here a lot.”

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Vicki’s wholehearted commitment to a humble life in retail is moving. When I asked which local product, business, or person she’d like to nominate for my next post, she took me on a tour of her booth, picked up nearly every local item, and told a detailed story about the makers of that item. She eventually paused to exclaim, “so maybe you could write about them!” after describing every product. The fact that we finally, finally settled on Isabel Street Heat–a St. Paul-based hot sauce company—for her nomination must be a pretty big honor. Stay tuned…

You can visit Grassroots Gourmet at the Midtown Global Market from 10am-8pm Monday through Saturday, and 10am-6pm on Sunday. Vicki currently does not have a social media presence, however, if she “found the right person to help” she would love to change that…

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