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Small Favors opening specialty shop in Grosse Pointe's Village

Grosse Pointe's Village business district is getting another tenant in a specialty gift shop, Small Favors, an arrival that will almost completely fill the three-block area along Kercheval Avenue.

A year ago the stretch that is considered the Grosse Pointes's downtown area was pocked by numerous vacant storefronts.

"The Village is on the cusp of a rebirth, and it's so exciting to be a part of it," says Kasey Malley, who co-owns Small Favors with Betsy Enders. Small Favors started in the basement of Malley's home in 2003, mostly selling specialty party favors. Within a few years the business had moved into a warehouse-type building with room to assemble party supplies and corporate gift baskets and such. Five years ago they opened a retail gift shop on Mack Avenue.

Earlier this year, they decided to move from their approximately 500-square-foot square foot store to a 1,500-square-foot space in the same block of Kercheval where a Borders bookstore and Ace Hardware once operated. Now there is a recently opened massage business, a dance studio, a Calico Corners fabric store and a shoe store, The Shoe Tree. St.John Medical center offices and a Scott Shuptrine furniture store are on the way.

"We didn't do as well as we could have on Mack. We had limited parking on the street and no parking lot," Malley says. "People would go out of their way to come to us. They're loyal, but there just was not enough traffic."

A build-out of the new Small Favors space is underway and will have "a great look with an industrial feel" with an open ceiling, exposed duct work and polished concrete floors, says Malley.

Opening day is expected to come in February. The current location remains open with holiday merchandise already out. While the new store, which is near the city's Santa's Village, is under construction there will be holiday pop-up shops selling Small Favors favorites. Other local Grosse Pointe business owners such as Ethel's Edibles's Jill Bommarito, and belt, belt buckle and specialty monogrammed item designer Kristen Henchel will join the pop-ups.

Small Favors is stocked with carefully selected merchandise found mostly by Enders and Malley on their annual trips to America's Mart in Atlanta. There they seek out new businesses and products that are unique. "We don't want anything you'll find in Target or Bed, Bath & Beyond…We don't want mass market.We're trying to keep that boutique-y small town, smaller feel," Malley says.

Small Favors regulars also come for the selection of favorite preppy brands such as Scout, high-quality candles and body products and unusual toys.

The move to the Village takes Malley back to the days "of what the Village used to be. It was small, independent businesses. That's what we've been missing. People want to go to the Village and shop around, get a coffee and stroll in and out. I think we're getting back to that and it's an exciting time."

Six businesses open in Grosse Pointe's Village

At least six new businesses opened in October in and around Grosse Pointe's downtown Village district.

All replaced vacant shops or filled in available office space and are mixing up the variety of businesses in the three-block retail area that often was the butt of jokes for its overabundance of coffee and bagel shops.

New businesses along Kercheval Avenue and on St. Clair, just off of the main street that runs through the Village, include:

* Shoe Tree, a women's shoe and accessories store. 17121 Kercheval Ave.
* Massage Green, the first Grosse Pointe franchise of the national brand built on affordable massage and spa services. 664 St. Clair
* Christiane Larue, the second location of the successful Birmingham boutique that sells and styles customers in ready to wear and formal attire from designers rarely found in metro Detroit or Michigan. 17114 Kercheval Ave.
*City Bark, a pet boutique with always changing merchandise for pets and and people who love pets. 17027 Kercheval Ave.
* Grosse Pointe Fine Homes is opening as the local real estate market improves. The office is the first Southeast Michigan location for the national brokerage Weichert Realty. 648 St. Clair.
* Creative Design has an office above Einstein Bagels at 16828 Kercheval Ave. and designs cancer-, Alzheimer's- and autism- awareness items such as apparel, jewelry and gifts.

Source: Grosse Pointe Chamber of Commerce
Writer: Kim North Shine

Warp 9 comics enters phase 2 with renovated shop in downtown Clawson

Warp 9 Comics and Collectibles has built a loyal customer following after 15 years in business, and now with a new owner and a renovated space it's time to put down the next panel in Warp 9's story.

The new owner, Trey Hunt, hosted a grand opening party Oct. 18. The store is located at 21 W. 14 Mile Road in downtown Clawson and attracts customers from across metro Detroit.

Comic book artists, costumes and comic idol cookies were part of the grand opening party. The store sells toys as well and also is an eBay dealer.

Besides painting, cleaning and re-organizing the store, where Hunt worked before buying it from the previous owner, the plan is to make Warp 9 a family-friendly shop and destination for comic art.

Source: Warp 9
Writer: Kim North Shine

DIY drives Adore Eclectic Interiors home consignment store

An interior decorator who made a business out of re-using what's already in clients' homes and complementing it with affordable accessories has opened her own home consignment store in Grosse Pointe Woods.

Marleen Prater, owner of Remixed Rooms, decided to go into retail after a decade as an interior decorator and striking out too often on quality, affordable home goods stores.

Adore Eclectic Interiors opened Monday at 20725 Mack Avenue in Grosse Pointe Woods, and "we had a very good opening day. Things are flying out the door," says Prater.

Besides selling home furnishings and accessories from the shop, she staffs painters, furniture re-purposers to change or customize pieces and experienced designers to lead classes for customers who want to make the changes themselves.

"Number one, we want very unique, cool pieces," she says. "So many times people are re-decorating or moving and things just don't fit. We are here for them when they need a place for those nice things, and we're here for customers who need that special piece or that new arrangement that can change the look and feel of their home. Number two, we want it to be very affordable."

She and the women she works with envision Adore as a place to get advice, talk about their homes, what's good and what's bad about them, how they can make their homes what they want them to be, and to learn how to make the changes they want.

"We see it as an experience. We have fresh coffee, homemade cookies and lots to talk about," says Prater.

Source: Marleen Prater, owner, Adore Eclectic Interiors
Writer: Kim North Shine

Shinola bikes for rent in downtown Birmingham



Shinola and The Townsend Hotel, two brands cementing reputations of luxury, are pairing up to offer Shinola bikes to hotel guests and to Birmingham residents.

The Shinola bike rental program at The Townsend launched about a month ago as a new amenity that offers an easy and stylish way to see downtown Birmingham.

The bikes are for rent by the half hour for $15, an hour for $25 and for a day for $125. Bike helmets and locks are also available.

Operators at The Townsend, a Euro-styled hotel in Birmingham, and Shinola, which promotes American- and Detroit-made products and operates a factory and retail store in Detroit, say Shinola's Runwell and Bixby models are a great way to see how walkable -- or rideable -- Birmingham can be.

"We've only had a few rentals so far, but we have a sign at the concierge desk in the main lobby announcing the offering, and we've had many inquiries," says Lynette Zebrowski, The Townsend's chief concierge. "So we are expecting to see this pick up."

Source: Hope Brown, principal PublicCity PR
, and Lynette Zebrowski, chief concierge, The Townsend Hotel
Writer: Kim North Shine

 

Shoe Tree women's shoe store to open in Grosse Pointe's Village

The most-watched block in Grosse Pointe's Village business district is getting a new tenant, a shoe store that will sell moderately priced women's shoes and be owned by a local who believes she knows what Grosse Pointers want and are willing to pay.

Hilary Butcher will open the Shoe Tree, likely in late October, at 17121 Kercheval Avenue, next door to the Calico fabric store that opened in June.

The block once housed a Borders bookstore and Ace hardware store, and since they closed in 2011 and 2012 the block sat vacant until a few months ago.

The developer, Kercheval Company, has leased much of the space to St. John Hospital, which will have offices and retail space. Kercheval Dance has opened a dance studio next door and Calico at the opposite end from St. John, which is still renovating its space.

Butcher's store is an alternative to the pricey, designer shoe store, Capricious, which is located on Kercheval Avenue on The Hill in Grosse Pointe Farms.

Source: The Voice of the Village
Writer: Kim North Shine

Grosse Pointe trolley organizers want riders to heart GP

A new trolley is criss-crossing the Grosse Pointes, taking customers to and from local businesses on weekends.

Last week, the first week of operation, showed interest was high with 115 riders hopping the train Friday night and 550 riding Saturday during its 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. service.

The Grosse Pointe Chamber of Commerce and two nonprofits, the Richard and Jane Manoogian Foundation and Paul and Carol Schaap's Urban Renewal Initiative Foundation, are behind a trial run of the trolley that would go through the end of the year.

The old-fashioned trolley runs up and down Kercheval Avenue between Maryland and Moross. It stops in Grosse Pointe Park, where an old business district is seeing several new business openings, goes through the Village in the city of Grosse Pointe's downtown area, and up to The Hill business district in Grosse Pointe Farms. If the trolley is a success it could expand to much busier Mack Avenue.

The free service is part of the larger "I heart GP" initiative, says Grosse Pointe Chamber president Jennifer Boettcher.

"The philosophy behind the trolley service, K-Line, coincides with another chamber initiative called “I heart GP” that's encouraging residents to put their money where their hearts are - Grosse Pointe," she says.

Soon, she says, "I heart GP" banners will hang from light posts throughout the business communities and on Vernier and Lake Shore roads "as a reminder to the residents to think local first."

Promoting business isn't all the trolley service is about.

"The best part was the camaraderie," says Boettcher, who rode the trolley on its maiden voyage weekend. "Everyone was laughing and talking like one big family."

Source: Jennifer Boettcher, president Grosse Pointe Chamber of Commerce, executive director, Grosse Pointe Foundation
Writer: Kim North Shine

 

Outlet malls planned for Canton and Romulus

Shopping-center developers from Massachusetts and Baltimore are eyeing Romulus and Canton as future locations for massive, upscale, affordable outlet shopping centers.

New England Development of Newton, Mass. is considering building the Outlets of Michigan, an open air shopping center, near Metro Airport. Paragon Properties of Baltimore, Md. wants to open a similar-styled outlet mall on Ford Road near I-75.

Both proposals call for openings in 2016.

Economic development directors in both cities say they would create hundreds of jobs, generate millions of dollars in investment and tax revenue, and also be a draw for out-of-town shoppers.

Source: New England Development, Paragon Properties and Kristin Thomas, economic development director, city of Canton
Writer: Kim North Shine

 

Royal Oak's Citizen Yoga expands to second location in Detroit

Less than a year since opening a yoga practice in a meticulously renovated space in downtown Royal Oak, Citizen Yoga is opening a studio in downtown Detroit.

The Detroit location is part of a Dan Gilbert-backed boost of Detroit. The owner of Bedrock Real Estate, Quicken Loans, the Cleveland Cavs and an all-around doer for Detroit's revitalization is behind the Z, a retail space that opened in January. Citizen Yoga will open in a 2,300-square-foot space at 1234 Library Street, next to NoJo Kicks and 7 Greens. An anchor tenant of the Z, across the street, is 24,000-square-foot Punch Bowl Social.

The 535,000-square-foot Z building covers an area from the corner of Broadway and East Grand River to the corner of Gratiot and Library.

Citizen Yoga Detroit is scheduled to open in the fall.

The Detroit location fits with Citizen Yoga owner Kacee Must's desire to do good for the community. Being a part of a retail return to downtown Detroit fits with her philanthropic side. It was always a part of her plan since opening Citizen Yoga on Washington Ave. in downtown Royal Oak last August.

While the Detroit opening is exciting, Citizen Yoga has also aligned itself with Brian Lively, a local master of "customer cultivation," whose success at Moosejaw, J. Crew, Gap, and other big names has won him many admirers.

Citizen Yoga was opened in honor of Must's late sister, Miya, with the plan to  share with her clients the knowledge she gained while traveling to India.

Her grand opening was a fundraiser for the charity, Born and Raised in Detroit, an organization committed to creating enriching and entertaining events for Detroiters.

She also hopes to use Citizen Yoga to spread the word of suicide prevention in honor of her sister.

Source: Kacee Must, Citizen Yoga
Writer: Kim North Shine

Giuseppe's International Oils & Vinegars opens Grosse Pointe store

Stainless steel dispensers, ceramic decanters, and glass bottles make up much of the decor of Giuseppe's International Oils & Vinegars, but it's what's inside the containers that is the lifeblood of the business that has opened a second location in metro Detroit.

The first store, at Partridge Creek Mall in Clinton Township, has found enough success selling olive oils, aged vinegars and accessories that the owners decided to open a store in Grosse Pointe this week.

The newest Giuseppe's is located in the Village business district at 16841 Kercheval Avenue, on the second floor of the Dawood Building. The second floor retail location is a rarity for the Village, but may become more common as rules on building uses ease up and become more welcoming to businesses.

Besides its olive oils in flavored, regional, organic and specialty varieties dispensed from stainless steel canisters, and its vinegars imported from Modena, Italy that come in dark and white balsamic and wine varieties, Giuseppe's sells herbs and spices, olive oil skin products, handmade ceramic decanters and dishes, and other home products.

Giuseppe's also works with chefs who visit the store to share food and recipes that use oils, vinegars and other spices, including many that focus on health benefits.

Writer: Kim North Shine
Source: Grosse Pointe Chamber of Commerce

Sea and lake creatures coming to Great Lakes Crossing Outlets

A London-based entertainment company is bringing its expertise in aquariums to the Great Lakes Crossing Outlets in Auburn Hills, building an aquatic attraction inside the shopping and entertainment complex.

Sea Life, which has more than 40 aquarium attractions around the world and six in the U.S., will be built in what used to be a GameWorks. Demolition on the space started about two weeks ago. The complicated project will take more than a year with an opening date expected by April or May 2015, says Scott Berlow, general manager of Great Lakes Crossing Outlets.

Sea Life Michigan will give visitors up-close looks at more than 30 displays that are centered around a tropical ocean tank with a walkthrough underwater tunnel.

United Kingdom-headquartered Merlin Entertainments, owners of Sea Life, also build Legolands and numerous other themed attractions in 12 countries and three continents.

Berlow says the company chose Auburn Hills and Great Lakes because of its draw for tourists, including Canadians and because of its connection to international and national auto suppliers who bring families to Michigan to live permanently or on extended stays. He says 21 percent of visitors to Great Lakes Crossing are tourists that have traveled from more than 50 miles away.

"We know Sea Life draws from more than 100 miles," Berlow says. "This is going to be a great attraction. Certainly for a number of miles, there really is nothing that exists like this….They really ID'd the area for a variety of reasons. It's always location, location, location. The access to I-75 was important too."

Berlow says Sea Life builds on the "entertainment" in the Great Lakes motto: Shopping, Dining and Entertainment. Sea Life will be located across from Rainforest Cafe.

"You'd think they'd have a problem with that, but actually they're thrilled." Sea Life complements Rainforest Cafe as well as the Bass Pro Shop, which is also a draw for metro Detroiters and tourists alike. Field trips will be a regular part of Sea Life Michigan, which has a classroom and field-trip educators on staff and places an emphasis on conservation.

The aquarium at Great Lakes Crossing Outlets will, like the others, will be an immersive and educational experience that puts visitors up close to ocean life. But aquarium visitors will also learn about lake species. Sea Life is also  involved in rescue operations.

The plans for Sea Life Michigan call for more than 30 displays of shrimp, sharks, sea rays, sea horses and starfish. The unique Great Lakes element will feature creatures most associated with the Great Lakes region.

"The naysayers would say we've got a foreign company coming into the area…This creates jobs. This is good for business…It's all positive."

Source: Scott Berlow, general manager, Great Lakes Crossing Outlets
Writer: Kim North Shine

Teenage fashionista opens Faded Raven Boutique in downtown Clawson

A 16-year-old's new clothing boutique is one of several new businesses that have opened in recent weeks in downtown Clawson.

The Faded Raven Boutique, which sells from the store and online, is owned by Ines Soulliere, a 16-year-old enterprising lover of fashion.

"We're very excited for her," says Joan Horton, executive director of the Clawson Downtown Development Authority. "We're really working hard to support our entrepreneurs."

The Faded Raven, which is located at 38 E. 14 Mile Road and sells trendy, unique and affordable clothes and accessories, is one of several businesses that will be celebrated with a group grand opening in the next few weeks, she says.

Others include Spark, which sells decorative glass and gifts; Clawson Antiques; and R.J.'s Diner.

Source: Joan Horton, executive director, Clawson DDA
Writer: Kim North Shine

Buy Michigan Now readies for annual market in Northville

A festival that comes to Northville each August may look like any summertime fair, but behind the temporary town of tents, banners, bands and children's play areas is a successful effort to build up fledgling Michigan-made businesses.

For five years the Buy Michigan Now festival has shut down Main & Center streets and opened 2 1/2 blocks of downtown to small- and medium-sized Michigan businesses looking for exposure for their goods and services. Dozens and dozens of times over the years, says Buy Michigan Now founder Lisa Diggs, the vendor-customer connection made at the fair propels entrepreneurial ideas into commercial reality.

"We've had businesses that grew out of the event in a great way, where they've gone on to get on store shelves. Others have opened their own shops or offices. We're sort of a little breeding ground for that kind of success," says Diggs.

This year, as in past years, about 100 vendors will bring all sorts of products, such as foods, patio furniture, smartphone repair services, to the festival. Small businesses in downtown Northville are also part of the event, which draws large crowds with its carefully-screened vendors, a beer and wine garden where Michigan crafters sell their liquid handiwork, live entertainment and a kids' play area spread across the festival area.

The 2014 festival is Aug. 1, 2 and 3, and applications for vendors are now being taken online here.

"It's a campaign and a festival with a cause," says Diggs, an entrepreneur herself. Through Buy Michigan Now and her consulting work as owner of The Catalyst Co., she promotes businesses in a number of ways throughout the year, including providing publicity and media exposure that is normally too costly for a start-up.

The first year of the Buy Michigan Now campaign was in 2007 and came with heavy involvement from the state of Michigan and Gov. Jennifer Granholm. It was a weeklong event with numerous celebrations and promotion. It formed at a time when Michigan's economy was tanking and when the mindset of buying local was taking shape.

"We're literally about getting more people to sit up and take notice of where their product or service comes from. The idea when we started was to have a day for people to think about how to buy only Michigan products, make a meal only from Michigan. Then we realized we needed much more than a day."

Source: Lisa Diggs, founder Buy Michigan Now
Writer: Kim North Shine

Plymouth's Mattress 4 U brings organic to the bedroom

In the 1980s, Mattress 4 U was into the waterbed craze and since then it's followed trends in sleeping, the latest being organic mattresses and a desire by consumers to know what's inside their mattress and what chemicals have been used to treat it.

The store started in Greenville in western Michigan and expanded to Plymouth in the summer of 2013, opening a store at 44717 5 Mile Road. It serves mostly Northville and Plymouth and calls itself Michigan's only certified organic mattress retailers.

Shoppers can find mattresses made from 100-percent organic cotton, natural rubber latex, renewable products, cruelty-free Eco Wool and with no chemicals.

It's a growing business, and unlike waterbeds of the 1980s, may be here to stay, says owner Billy Pennington.

Source: Billy Pennington, owner, Mattress 4U
Writer: Kim North Shine



Lark & Co. revives the old general store in new Birmingham spot

The vision for Michael Collins and David Zawicki's new Lark & Co. in downtown Birmingham is modern day general store.

The pair who previously ran Oliver's Trendz, a women's accessories store, in the same storefront at 138 N. Maple.  After shutting down for renovations, they reopened nearly two weeks ago and have stocked the 1,100-square-foot space with products inspired by a 1940s general store.

Variety is the name of the game: handmade candy, furniture, foodstuffs, lighting, purses, speciality soaps, rugs, books.

Collins and Zawicki have lived in Birmingham 17 years and see a general store as a way to round out downtown Birmingham's retail offerings, a way to keep locals from leaving town to shop.

Next door to Lark & Co. is Suhm-thing, a gift store that is also owned and operated by Collins and Zawicki and has a a selection of Michigan goods and unusual items from artists and designers around the world.

Part of the their business plan is also to convey how much good supporting a local merchant can do for the economy and to set them themselves apart by providing a level of service that's harder to find at chains, malls and big box stores, Collins says.

Source: Ed Nakfoor, Birmingham PSD, and Michael Collins, owner, Lark&Co.
Writer: Kim North Shine
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