Twins to Open Inclusive Makers Market at Target Field
Twins fans will spot a trio of new retail vendors at Target Field this year.
On Tuesday, the Minnesota Twins and U.S. Bank announced plans to open a “Creator’s Corner” at Gate 34 featuring three businesses led by underrepresented groups.
The effort is specifically focused on businesses owned by women, or those owned by Black, Indigenous, and other people of color (BIPOC).
This year, the three vendors are:
- Must Be Ruff, a dog treats company based in Brooklyn Park;
- Native Roots Trading Post, a St. Paul-based group selling Native American clothing, artwork, food, home goods, and more; and
- SJC Body Love, a skin care products company based in St. Paul.
As part of the program, each business will receive a $10,000 investment from the Twins, along with free space to sell their goods and services. The vendors won’t need to worry about finding staffing, either: Delaware North, which manages concessions and retail for the Twins, will provide workers to staff booths at Gate 34.
“This is to ensure that these companies do not have prohibitive overhead cost (in people hours and/or payroll expenses) for this venture – expenditures that could potentially hamper their ability to operate simultaneously at both their brick-and-mortar location and the ballpark,” said Twins spokesman Matt Hodson in an email.
This isn’t the first retail-oriented venture at Gate 34. In 2019, the Twins launched an effort known as the “Gate 34 Experience,” which included a rotating set of women- and BIPOC-owned businesses throughout the season. But, due to Covid and other setbacks, the program went on pause in the years that followed. This year, team leaders felt it was important “to return some of that space to the community,” Hodson said.
Why Gate 34? Referred to as the stadium’s “front porch,” it’s a highly trafficked entrance, handling nearly 60% of fan entries in a typical game. It’s also a hangout spot for some. “That area becomes a gathering spot before and during each game,” Hodson said. “It truly is the most prominent spot to provide the greatest amount of access and exposure for the Creator’s Corner companies.”
In the pre-Covid days, the Twins revamped the gate and added 9,300 square feet of “programmable space,” CEO Dave St. Peter told TCB at the time.
But do people actually want to buy goods at ball games? Absolutely, says Mich Berthiaume, who identified vendors for the Creator’s Corner and the Gate 34 Experience back in 2019. To this day, Berthiaume still gets text messages from vendors who landed new, recurring customers during the 2019 program.
“We know where shopping is right now: It’s either online, or at a destination,” said Berthiaume, who’s coordinated pop-up markets across the Twin Cities, including the holiday market at the Dayton’s Project. “It’s surprising in a really positive way.”
And certainly, having space at Target Field means exposure to thousands of potential customers: In 2022, the stadium welcomed over 1.8 million attendees, according to ESPN attendance reports.
Berthiaume nominated a total of 10 potential participants for the program. From there, a committee of Twin Cities community and business leaders picked three to participate this year. Going forward, the plan is to spotlight three different businesses in the years ahead.
As Berthiaume sees it, the market is just another way of tapping into a growing desire for destination-oriented shopping experiences.
Twins execs, meanwhile, see the market as another way to position the team as “a force for good,” Hodson said. “We are committed to advance social equity – this belief is at the core of our giving charter and is engrained in our organization’s ethos,” he said. “We want to use the platform afforded us by 81 home games at our ballpark to proactively eliminate barriers to access and opportunity, and help women- or BIPOC-owned businesses grow and thrive.”