When we found out Plum Market was coming to town, we didn’t just want to shop there. We wanted to move right in. The family-run specialty grocer is known for its sunny employees, beautiful layout, and local and organic products. Its three locations in southeast Michigan are so wildly popular that we knew its first expansion outside the state to Chicago’s Old Town neighborhood would be special.

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The store is tailored to families, so bring the kids along for the ride. Here are 10 reasons why you (and your produce picker-in-training) will love it.

1. Fresh-from-the-farm fruits and veggies
The invigorating smell of ripe seasonal produce hits you as soon as you walk in. (Right now, that’s asparagus, peaches, watermelon, strawberries, tomatoes and more.) There’s a large selection of organic fruits and veggies — ideal for parents who make their own baby food — and lots of it comes from local farms.

2. The 1,200-square-foot Intelligentsia coffee bar
Get the caffeine fuel you need adjacent to the market. The coffee bar invites you to linger over a cup of the local coffee roaster’s best blends (we love the Black Cat Classic Espresso) or get your java jolt to go.

3. Goodies from Zingerman’s Bakehouse
The Michigan cult-fave food purveyor gets in the mix with hand-shaped breads, flaky pastries and cakes of all kinds. In addition to items from Zingerman’s, you can pick up cakes, cheesecakes and macaroons from local artisan desert maker Vanille Patesserie.

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4. Free parking for one hour in an attached garage
Have you tried parking in Old Town? If you have, you know this is the ultimate amenity. (After one hour, the rate is $14 for up to four hours.)

5. Samples, samples, everywhere
Kids can’t be around food without wanting to snack. Luckily, there are usually handouts here and they can range from cheese to crackers to sips of Orgain, an organic nutritional shake for children.

6. The in-store frozen yogurt shop
Sweeten your visit with a stop at Swirlberry, the fro-yo store-within-a-store. The tart and creamy treat tastes even better when you add your own toppings (there’s tons to choose from, including berries and crumbled candy bars).

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7. Rewards for loyal shoppers
Register at no cost for the Plum Market myRewards card and get 2% back on purchases. This means that you get a point for every dollar spent, so after attaining 500 points, you get $10 to spend in store. Rewards card holders also get special offers and invites to in-store events.

8. Local products from more than 100 Chicago-area businesses
Support the food community right outside your door with finds like Mama Jess Pasta Sauce, Red Hen Bread, Terry’s Toffee, Milk & Honey Granola, Anderson’s Maple Syrup, Katherine Anne Confections Truffles, and more.

9. The apothecary stocked with all-natural baby and skincare products
We’re not talking your typical drugstore. This apothecary has specialty products focused on organic health and wellbeing. Look for Dr. Hauschka skincare, California Baby shampoo, Deborah Lippman nail polish, Yes To Carrots face wipes and other natural helpers.

10. Aisles wide enough for not only your grocery cart, but your double stroller
And that’s what it’s all about when you’re shopping with kids, isn’t it?

Plum Market
1233 N. Wells St.
Old Town
312-229-1400
Online: www.plummarket.com
Open daily, 8:00 am-10:00 pm

Will you shop at Plum Market? Let us know in the Comments section below.x

— Kelly Aiglon

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Photos: Bret Grafton Creative; courtesy of Plum Market