Making a Difference
The Boxville Team efforts go beyond the “boundaries” of the steel container box.
We are actively committed to inciting good ‘outside the box’, specifically in the Bronzeville community
City's Boxville Market aims to cultivate South Side entrepreneurs
October 11, 2017
Igor Studenkov for Chronicle Media
On most days, the lot to the east of the 51st Street Green Line ‘L’ station doesn’t look particularly remarkable. There are a few brightly colored freight shipping containers sitting in an empty field, seemingly discarded.
But Wednesday afternoons, from 4-7 p.m., the lot comes to life. The shipping containers become stores and a bike repair shop. Local and regional businesses set up tables to sell food, clothing, jewelry and sweets. A disc jockey sets up near the middle, playing music. Before long, the field turns into a plaza filled with regular customers and curios passersby.
Since June 2017, the Boxville Marketplace has become fixture in South Side’s Bronzeville neighborhood. Local developer Bernard Loyd created it in hopes of creating a space for local entrepreneurs that would be easier to set up and rent out than a traditional brick-and-mortar space. While Boxville is closed for the season, the organizers plan to reopen it sometime in April and keep it open until October.
Best of Bronzeville 2017: Best Shipping Containers
September 19, 2017
Standing in a shipping container right off the steps of the 51st Street Green Line “L” stop one recent Wednesday, Michelle E.L. Merritt explained her philosophy for working with vendors and entrepreneurs who ply their wares at Boxville, the once-weekly market that she manages. “Provided that they’re serious about their business, we provide the platform for them to come out and sell,” she said over the sounds of a DJ alternating between classic hip-hop and recent Top 40. “So it’s not judged, it’s not a curated market. Our goal is to provide goods and services that are not currently in the neighborhood, but there’s a demand for.”
Boxville, which has been run out of four shipping containers for a few hours every Wednesday afternoon this summer, is the latest initiative of Urban Juncture, the nonprofit developer behind the culinary/neighborhood revitalization initiative Bronzeville Cookin’ and co-working and concept development space the Bronzeville Incubator. Vendors vary, but the “anchors,” to use Merritt’s term, are streetwear, vintage, fresh produce, and bike repair—and this week, jerk pork and chicken tacos from the Bronzeville Jerk Shack, the inaugural concept restaurant of Bronzeville Cookin’ whose storefront is down the street from Boxville.
Bronzeville's new Boxville market stop on Riverwalk Saturday
July 20, 2017
The sight of golden mangos and plump pears stopped Bronzeville resident Zion Forbes as he stepped off the L at 51st Street on Wednesday.
Forbes, who has lived in Bronzeville for 25 years, said he has never seen a place like Boxville, an outdoor market next to the Green Line stop.
“You can buy food that’s actually clean here,” he said of the market, which bustled with residents buying fruits and vegetables, listening to music and browsing Bronzeville-themed apparel in the hot July sun.
“I hope this grows,” Forbes said. “I feel like this will change the neighborhood.”
Boxville, made up of brightly-colored shipping containers inhabited by food and retail vendors, opened June 21. Bernard Loyd, president of the community development group Urban Junction, is heading the project to gather the “very best of Bronzeville retail, entrepreneurship and culture in one place,” while also solving a food access problem in the community.