By THOMAS ROWLAND
This weekend Hiller’s Market in Commerce Township held its first Local Food Fair. The two day event was organized by Jim Hiller, CEO of Hiller’s Markets, to showcase various products available at his stores that have a significant connection to the state of Michigan.
Vendors at the fair included Absopure Water Co., Bosco’s Pizza Co., Better Made, Garden Fresh Salsa, Jiffy and Sanders, among others.
Even the cleaning aisle isn’t devoid of Michigan products. A company called pHurity Inc. based in Franklin, Mich., makes environmentally friendly cleaning products.
Hiller’s Market was founded in 1941 by Sid Hiller, Jim Hiller’s father. Jim Hiller practiced law for 18 years before joining his family’s business in the late 1980s. Lately, Hiller has been paying greater attention to local products.
“We decided about 10 months ago to change our paradigm of business and to begin focusing on local suppliers as a way of making some impact on the economy here in southeast Michigan,” Hiller said.
Not all of the products are neccessarily of 100 percent Michigan origin.
“Obviously there are limitations. The state of Michigan does not produce ocean fish or sea food,” he said. “So we don’t carry oysters from Michigan.”
But as many as possible have what Hiller calls “a rational nexus,” where there is a point of contact, whether it be the manufacturing, the packaging or the distribution.
“When you look at all of that we feel that we will have an economic impact in Michigan in excess of $30 million this year.”
The Michigan connected products are tagged on the shelves with a green label in the shape of the state to inform customers that the product has a local connection.
Jessica Fraiser of West Bloomfield was at the fair and appreciated the signage.
“It’s really great to see so many Michigan products, and it’s nice that they are labeled so you know you are supporting local business.”
Hiller’s currently carries over 1,000 products that have some connection to the state.
Hiller’s Markets are located in Ann Arbor, Berkley, Commerce Township, Northville, Plymouth, Union Lake and West Bloomfield.