PH Country Style Marketplace, a boutique grocery store in downtown Port Huron, has opened a new beer and wine cellar, as well as a basement event space that reflects the area’s smuggling history.
Owners Steve Fernandez and Michele Jones admit that some details are still coming together on their second market in the area.
PH Country Style Marketplace, 310 Huron Ave., opened this spring and slowly, the couple said, they added features to the business. They are collaborating more with other downtown businesses, they are now accepting EBT cards from shoppers, and the winery with a limited selection of beers and wines opened July 1.
Waiting for state liquor license approval took longer than expected, they said. Now they intend to continue expanding what is available at the lowest level of the store.
“The difference between this particular location and (the couple’s other location) in Fort Gratiot, we have about three times the area to work with,” Fernandez said, referring to the market they own in the nearby township.
From the foot of the main staircase in the downtown market, Fernandez walked through two adjoining rooms where a refrigerator wall held shelves of beer and racks of wine. Nearby was a largely empty bulk storage room.
“It will end up being full of wine. We’ll just stop from here,” Fernandez said.
“We’ll end up putting more stuff downstairs; it just takes time,” he added. “…We want to put some cool stuff here, to get people looking for wine glasses or cutting boards, just all the different stuff you’d expect from a grocery store or wine store.”
Other details still in place include the basement aesthetic.
Purple velvet covers parts of the walls and framed posters dot the generations of different exposed brickwork, including commercials featuring silent film star and Port Huron native Colleen Moore, but Fernandez and Jones said they were considering other additions.
A unique coal chute in the century-old building, now under the Grand River Avenue sidewalk, is decorated to showcase a historic smuggling scene, including a donated hoist assembly and small barrels on a cart found with the property.
Behind, a landscape painted by muralist David Stoneberg shows Canada across the St. Clair River.
“It’s supposed to be like Sarnia, and they bring the booze at night and then we take it out to the dock,” Jones said of the display.
“It just makes it look like we’re smuggling at night,” Fernandez said. “That’s the whole basis of the theme there.”
‘We made it a fun thing’: Homeowners celebrate new basement venue
PH Country Style Marketplace brings the smuggling theme to its new banquet space next to the beer and wine cellar.
Earlier this month, they celebrated its opening, Fernandez said, with about 50 business guests.
Jones said the area was set up like a speakeasy with a dance area, card table and bar.
“We made it a fun thing,” Fernandez said. “…We just wanted to take it out and show everyone.”
The area is decorated with exhibits of historic clothing and other items on loan from Port Huron museums. On Monday, Jones showed off an Edison record player, dropping the needle for a few moments on “Seven or Eleven: My Dixie Pair O’ Dice.”
Since a private unveiling, they said, they haven’t had many inquiries about the space as they haven’t announced its availability.
Going forward, they will open up for small gatherings, such as birthday or anniversary celebrations, and hope to reach out to local associations and groups interested in a space to hold meetings.
Until a webpage is created, they said, those interested can call the downtown market number at 810-432-8431. Jones said they will be able to accommodate outside caterers for events, but Fernandez added that they will only be able to serve the beer and wine they purchase.
“It’s so new. We haven’t sat down and really figured out what it’s going to be,” Fernandez said. “It’s not going to cost a lot. We just want to share what we have with the community.
Contact Jackie Smith at (810) 989-6270 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @Jackie20Smith.