When Kathy Sample and Bill Brinkerhoff founded the original Argus Farm Stop on W. Liberty in 2014, their mission was simple: provide opportunities for the local food community, whether growers or bakers.

Their gamble took off and led to a second location on Packard in 2017. Then, in January, they added a second Packard storefront a few doors down from the first: the 3,600-foot space that housed Arbor Vacuum until it lost its lease last year and downsized to its locations on Carpenter Rd. and in Brighton (Observer, September 2021).

The new space sits between chicken-wing specialist Side Biscuit and the Zen Buddhist Temple. Keys in hand, they took down walls, built two new bathrooms for customers, and created a market with multiple features. During a preopening tour, Sample showed off spaces for fresh fruits and vegetables, frozen food, and bread and pastries.

There is a spot for in-store demos and, most important to her, an area to pack weekly produce boxes, which soared in popularity during the pandemic.

Down the street, Argus was so spaced-constrained that its staff could pack only 150 boxes per week–and to do it, they had to jog downstairs then lug the crates upstairs. The new space “will be a better working environment, and people won’t have to be going up and down stairs all the time,” Sample says. It will also let them resume taking orders from new customers and participate in programs offering boxes to lower-income shoppers.

With two years left on its other Packard lease, Argus will turn the smaller market into a spot for grab-and-go meals as well as beer and wine. Despite the variety of ingredients that Argus offers home cooks, “people want prepared foods,” Sample says.

But, she jokes, “our business model doesn’t allow us to do fancy stuff.” While Argus offers espresso drinks, she has no plans to compete directly with Ann Arbor’s new roasteries.

“We’re not going to have a $13,000 espresso machine. There are other places for that,” Sample says. A customer told her, “‘If I want to talk to a PhD in coffee, I’ll go down to Hyperion. If I just want a cup of coffee, I’m going to come to you.'”

Sample believes the new space will become a gathering spot for Burns Park residents as well as people from other parts of town. “The neighborhood has been clamoring for a neighborhood space,” she says.

Argus Farm Stop, 1226 Packard. Hours TBA. argusfarmstop.com