Beer for Humans

Beer for Humans: The Corporation for Findlay Market

We recently had a conversation with Kelly Lanser and  Jessee Huber from the Corporation for Findlay Market, one of the organizations we are partnering with for our Beer for Humans initiative! Read on to learn more about the great community work coming from these wonderful humans!

Tell us a little bit about your organization? What is the general mission and services you cover?


Kelly: The Corporation for Findlay Market is a 501cs nonprofit. In our day to day we deal with  safety, beautification, food innovations, market efforts, and nutritional benefit programs connected with historic Findlay Market in Over-the-Rhine. We are a community-driven organization, and our primary focus is supporting small businesses. 


When was the corporation for Findlay Market  founded? How has it changed over time?


Kelley: We were founded in 2004 (although Findlay Market itself is 170 years old). The market was initially managed day to day by the city. We worked with the city to create the Corporation for Findlay market; our founding was all about getting businesses to open and be successful, and bring shoppers to Findlay Market, and on the development of the Market. Fast forward to the present day, and our support is primarily on small businesses. We’re able to focus on growth and scale. We have a solid group of full-time merchants, and our primary goal is helping them to maintain a diverse group of offerings. Today, we are in the position to be able to expand the Market’s capabilities. We have been working with local developers and the city to reopen many unused historic storefronts. Additionally, programs like Findlay Kitchen, a food business incubator, supports food entrepreneurs looking to start, grow and scale their business, by providing affordable access to 11 licensed commercial kitchens, commercial-grade kitchen equipment, and ample storage space. This has all been a really awesome thing to be a part of


In that span of time do you have a favorite project that you have worked on? 


Kelley: Tough question! I’d say either the Flavor of Findlay or the Art Gallery. FoF is an annual fundraising event that brings together Market merchants and Cincinnati’s top chefs to celebrate the city’s unique and vibrant culinary culture. Market vendors pair their items with a Cincy chef. There’s also a  huge silent auction, fun games, etc. The event is a really great way to showcase the market vendors; what they do, what they sell. I do genuinely believe that Findlay Market is one of the few gathering places for everyone in Cincinnati. 


Jessee: I’m gonna cheat and name a couple events. One is our Nutrition Benefits Program. We have a whole team that focuses on low income shoppers, and they have built out an education center where we match up to ten dollars for shoppers to get fresh produce. This is a very special program. 


Findlay Launch is also one of our coolest programs. This one has really put us on the map from the perspective of other public markets. Findlay Launch is a Storefront Accelerator residency program for food-related businesses. This program is the first of its kind in our region, with a specific focus on giving real time experience, in fully built and equipped storefronts, to food-related retail and restaurant concepts. It is designed to provide entrepreneurs the space and support to get to their needed proof of concept more quickly. 


And, to second Kelly, what has come from Findlay Kitchen is just amazing. There are some incredible stories of businesses that have come out of there: Arepa Place…Eli’s Kitchen…Empanada’s Box (which was our very first graduate). People are following these businesses, and they have really made names for themselves. 


This brand is called Beer for Humans. Tell me about the humans!

Kelley: Absolutely! The experience of being at the market is so magical. People are often passing up groceries to come to the market. One of the things we learned during the pandemic is how truly important the relationship between vendors and their customers is. We found that findlay market merchants were the most important (or only) social experience in many peoples’ during that time. 

Does your organization have any exciting projects coming up in the near future that you are able to share about?


Kelley: Yes! First, we are expanding our shopping app partnership. Currently, we do what’s called a PureX program, in which we work with local hospitals, and soon we will announce that we are additionally working with Cincinnati Public Schools to subscribe fresh food. We will be working with carriers, putting orders together and physically delivering food and fresh produce. 


Have Rhinegeist and your organization collaborated in the past?


Kelley: Absolutely. When Rhinegeist opened up it was so great to have a partner north of Liberty Street. We often share patrons, because we are so close, and we have often worked together in the past on various events and activations in the neighborhood. One of the things we’ve been thinking about lately is what an evening activation at the Market would look like. At this point, we’re able  to drive evening traffic with the support of our bar program. Rhinegeist has been a close partner in our bar program since its inauguration. We’re not competition, we’re all on the same team, which has been great. 


Beer for Humans is a beer, but also a storytelling platform. What is it that you want the public to know about your organization that you feel maybe they don’t already know? 


Kelley: Most importantly, while the Corporation for Findlay Market (CFFM), the 501c3, does special events and lots of other great stuff as a nonprofit, we also have the wonderful historic Findlay Market itself. It’s often difficult to distinguish the nonprofit programs from the “Market” proper, and we want to make sure that people know the difference, and don’t be a stranger to the Market if you live in the area, or are visiting the city! At the end of the day, it is about keeping the Market thriving for future generations, and supporting the small businesses in this great neighborhood.