Marine Meat Market is one of seven main chandlers on the Great Lakes. This means they provide two weeks of groceries for 13-25 sailors on each ship that they service, year round. Their territory goes from the UP down to Toledo and Lake Eerie, and they even provide to Chicago once in a while. This market and butchery was first established in 1888, right near Thunder Bay in Alpena, where the current post office sits. With so many cement boats and cargo ships traveling the Great Lakes during this time, this was an ideal spot by the water for chandlers to load up all the food and supplies crews needed for their voyages. The Market has since moved and settled at its current location in Alpena in 1956.
For 100 years, the Kannowskis, owned the shop and butchery. Bradey Smith, one of the current owners says, “The Kannowskis wanted to keep it local, and eventually sold it to my father-in-law.” Smith admitted that, “Keeping boating crews in food and supplies 24/7 is a unique business, and can be pretty grueling.”
Due to Covid-19, major disruptions have occurred across the shipping industry for months now. One fleet of 6-8 ships has been laid up since April. It’s been a big hit to the industry, Smith confirmed, but he said, “luckily some have been able to stay out on the water. The problem they’re seeing now is sailors can’t get off the ships when they dock, so there’s an even bigger responsibility on the chandlers to get them food, medication, and other supplies.”
Though, Marine Market isn’t just a chandler. As a local butchery and community stalwart, they attract folks looking for local options. You can find things like Pour Boy’s honey, Plath’s smoked fish, Echo Ridge Farm eggs, and perch and walleye from the Great Lakes on their shelves. They smoke all their meats on site, process deer for hunters and make their own venison jerky and sausages. With the help of TLD’s partnership with the Building Healthy Communities initiative, they utilized grant dollars to market these unique offerings to Michiganders. Additionally, they leveraged funds to purchase a freezer so they can expand their locally sourced meat options next year. If you haven’t made it one of your stops for local in Alpena, you’re missing out.
Marine Market, located at 515 S. Ripley Blvd., Alpena, is open Mondays-Saturdays from 8am-6pm. Learn more about them on their Facebook page and place your orders there.
Photos: Marine Market
Molly Stepanski is the Local Food Coordinator for northeast Michigan. She enjoys reading with her seven year old, planting and hiking in the dirt, cooking up her own recipes, drinking farmhouse cider, and eating lots of fresh, seasonal produce (and anything deep-fried, in accordance with her southern heritage). She owns and operates Presque Isle Farm with her family. Contact her at [email protected].