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Untapped market for plus-size resale leads to three stores for HIPS Boutique

When Vikki Stoddart discovered that resale shops for plus size women were virtually non-existent, she decided to launch a business that since has uncovered an eager customer base.

After working in marketing and advertising, Stoddart, a Ferndale resident, opened her first HIPS Resale Boutique store four years ago at 10 S. Main St. in downtown Clawson. By October 2012, she added a second location on busy Gratiot Avenue in Roseville. At 2,000 square feet, it was double the size of her Clawson store.

It wasn't long after opening in Roseville that Stoddart began looking for a location for a third store. She needed to keep up with demand from an untapped market looking for quality, stylish clothing in sizes 12 and larger, especially sizes 18-24. She found her next store in downtown Detroit, where she had hoped to "be a part of the renaissance of the city."

On Monday, March 30, the newest HIPS Resale Boutique opens in the Penobscot Building, a landmark Detroit skyscraper on Griswold Street. It will join other retailers as part of the Shops at Penobscot. A VIP celebration is planned for Friday, March 27.

Like other HIPS shops, the 1,200-square-foot Detroit store will sell clothing sizes 12 up to 6X and 7X, as well as handbags, jewelry and accessories for women of any size.

"We are so excited," says Stoddart. "The building itself is so amazing. We spent 30 hours scraping the floors, using five gallons of vinegar and scraping the glue left from the carpet we ripped up. Underneath is amazing white tile. It's just beautiful."

Stoddart realized there was a lack of plus size resale options after she and a friend began looking for a place to sell new, unworn, and lovely things that belonged to her friend.

"[Resale shops] definitely were not interested in the sizes I had, which were 2X and 3X," she says. "I did research and thought, 'How is this possible?' The average size of a woman in the USA is 14 and there is nothing out there for them."
 
About a year ago, HIPS opened an online store. "We began getting requests from out of state and from customers who had moved away and had nothing like this where they were living."

The online store, like the physical stores, is thriving, she says.

"There is absolutely a demand for this. Being a plus-sized woman, the options you have are already very limited, and the options you do have are expensive and overpriced."

Source: Vikki Stoddart, owner, HIPS Resale Boutique
Writer: Kim North Shine

Will downtown Birmingham valet service end hunt for parking spaces?

Economically, it can be a good thing for a downtown to have a parking shortage. It typically means businesses are thriving and commercial vacancies are low. For shoppers and visitors, however, there's really no upside.

With that in mind, a downtown-wide valet service is coming to Birmingham from April 2 to May 30. The service will be available noon to 6 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays. The cost to use the valet is $4. There will be two pick-up locations: next to Roots at Henrietta and West Maple and at Comerica Bank on Old Woodward at Hamilton Row. Shoppers can call the valet when they're ready to be picked up.

"With warming weather, parking use increases significantly in April and May," says John Heiney, executive director of Birmingham's Principal Shopping District. "Plus, our merchants have told us that their customers have asked for this convenience."

He says downtown is at 98 percent occupancy and about 100,000 square feet of office space is being built over the next 18 months. The valet service, which was offered last spring and over the holidays, is a temporary fix to what looks to be a long term parking problem. Demand is increasing, Heiney said.

The city has established a steering committee to look at expanding the parking system and consider short term solutions such as relocating employee parking.

The company, In House Valet, will operate the service, which is being subsidized by the Principal Shopping District, an organization made up of downtown business owners that works in partnership with the city.

Source: John Heiney, executive director, Principal Shopping District
Writer: Kim North Shine

Revived bandshell where Bob Seger and the MC5 played could bring new music to downtown Lincoln Park

The Lincoln Park band shell may experience a reprise as a downtown concert venue if a crowdfunding campaign and partnership between the city and state succeed.

The campaign to raise $10,000 in donations from the public -- and in turn receive matching funds from the Michigan Economic Development Corp.(MEDC) -- started this week and ends April 16. As of late Wednesday, March 18, the goal was almost met.

The city's effort to raise money to refurbish and reopen the Kennedy Memorial Park Band Shell falls under the Public Spaces Community Places collaboration between the MEDC, the Michigan Municipal League, and Patroncity.

Patroncity sponsors fundraising campaigns that help locals support development of strategic projects in their communities. The donations are matched with MEDC grants. Besides communities, nonprofits and other businesses can apply for crowdfunding projects on Patroncity.

The redevelopment of Lincoln Park's deteriorating art deco band shell has been identified as a strategic project that could stimulate the local economy. The public performance space brought many acts -- famous and not so famous -- to its stage during the last 50-plus years.

“Name a community and you often think of a building, park, landmark, or some other asset that makes you identify with that city,” says Dan Gilmartin, executive director and CEO of the Michigan Municipal League. “In Lincoln Park, the band shell is one of those attractions. By contributing to this crowdfunding effort, residents - for years to come - can take pride in something they helped revitalize.”

Bob Seger, who attended high school locally for a time, performed many times at the band shell. Members of legendary local rock band the MC5 were Lincoln Park High students and regulars at the band shell before they headed to national fame.

“The Kennedy Memorial Park Band Shell is an important part of Lincoln Park’s history, and with the help of residents, businesses, and others, we can ensure that it is a part of the city’s future,” says MEDC community assistance team specialist Nate Scramlin.

The money raised will pay for repairs and add amenities to the stage, structure, and grounds, as well as bring musical performers to the 1950s-era venue.

“The Band Shell has a classic art deco design and is a jewel for our community,” says Lincoln Park’s emergency manager Brad Coulter. “Refurbishing the structure and restarting regular musical events at the Band Shell is a key piece in reinventing Lincoln Park for future generations.”

Source: Nate Pilon, spokesperson, MEDC
Writer: Kim North Shine

Northville becomes Michigan's second Granite City eatery location

Northville is getting a new restaurant in Granite City, the second metro Detroit location for the Minneapolis-based chain of brewpubs.

The Northville Granite City is scheduled to open in April at 39603 Traditions Dr. near 7 Mile and Haggerty roads. It is part of the 82-acre Northville Park Place development, which is in the second phase of construction. The development is on the site of the closed Northville Psychiatric Hospital.

Beer will be brewed in house and food will be made from scratch.

Granite City's only Michigan location to date is in Troy. It's regularly packed with customers waiting for tables and is a big draw for special beer-themed events. A third location is planned for the Renaissance Center in Detroit later this year. Northville will be the 33rd Granite City nationally.

The development site is a mix of retail and public space, including a park and trails that connect to Northville neighborhoods. The University of Michigan Northville Medical Center is located at Park Place along with other restaurants and retailers.

The opening creates 200 full- and part-time jobs.

Source: Marie Stawasz, Franco Public Relations Group
Writer: Kim North Shine

Dowtown Mount Clemens church hopes to serve community with new coffee business

The Well, a downtown Mount Clemens church, is opening a coffee shop that will be part business and part spiritual mission.

Ricardo Arredondo, pastor of The Well, expects More Than Coffee to open Friday, March 12 at 42 Pine St.

"[The coffee shop will] let us meet the people where they are as opposed to trying to get them to come to us," says Arrendondo.

In addition to serving quality, locally roasted coffee, the shop will be a place to worship; there's an area in the back where The Well has held services for months. The shop will also provide homeless people with job training in service industry positions.

More Than Coffee takes the place of Che Cosa, a coffee shop and lunch spot that moved to Clinton Township several months ago. The new shop will feature a rotating variety of local roasts. The first will be Great Lakes Coffee from Detroit. Anthology Coffee in Detroit and Dessert Oasis Coffee in Rochester will be in the initial line-up as well.

"The interesting thing about downtown Mount Clemens is there's so much diversity," says Arredondo, who spends Thursday nights on downtown streets and sidewalks reaching out to homeless locals.

"You have lawyers who have offices downtown. You have people coming in for jury duty, people coming in for court. You have people that are coming for the Oakland University center downtown. You have moms dropping their kids off at school who may want to stop in for a coffee. You have people coming in who want coffee, Wi-Fi and to work.

No matter where the customers come from, Arredondo wants them to have great coffee whether being part of greater mission or the church is important to them.

"Really, we're not trying to say, 'Hey! We're a church.' We're trying to say, 'Hey! We have this vision to just serve people coffee while we help people at the same time."

Source: Richard Arredondo, pastor, The Well, and operator of More Than Coffee
Writer: Kim North Shine

 

Meza bringing Mexican food to downtown Royal Oak

Two metro Detroit restaurant veterans are teaming up to open a new Mexican restaurant in downtown Royal Oak.

Michael Sophiea and Darrel Krause are partners in Meza, a Mexican restaurant, at 312 South Main St.

After renovations, the 3,000-square-foot restaurant will feature 148 seats, including 16 bar stools and outdoor seating for 24. Demolition has already begun.

Besides a restaurant and bar, Meza will feature live entertainment including bands and DJs.

Sophiea has owned and managed Oak Grill in Royal Oak and also was previous owner of two bars, Rumors and Local 212. Krause's restaurant resume includes Duggan's Irish Pub, Woody's Diner, Lakeview Grille in Oxford, and Post Bar in Novi,

Together they own and operate Ciccarelli's sports bars in Auburn Hills and Detroit.

Source: city of Royal Oak
Writer: Kim North Shine

New business lab at Oakland University gives students access to cutting-edge Wall Street tech

A newly renovated business lab at Oakland University is giving students access to Bloomberg financial terminals that are used by many professionals in the financial sector to analyze company data, financial news, industry research, and more.

The 10 dual-screen Bloomberg terminals opened in January, giving OU students access to the same info used by brokers, investors, and other financial planners and advisors. The terminals also come with Bloomberg Professional Service, which trains students and tests them on their decisions and predictions.

Oakland University's lab is one of a handful in Michigan and is seen by administrators as a way to best prepare students for financial careers, giving them early access to tools that many would have been required to learn on the job.

Source: Nivedita Mukherji, associate professor of economics, associate dean, Oakland University
Writer: Kim North Shine

Barbecue joint adds to downtown Wyandotte's restaurant options this summer

Downtown Wyandotte's main street is getting a new barbecue restaurant this summer in ALVI's BBQ.

"Our focus will be on rustic-themed, down-home southern barbecue," says ALVI's owner Al Fritz.

The downtown space at 3233 Biddle Ave. will be restored to its original 1921 condition, he says. There will be a mix of family-style tables and tables for four and two. An outdoor dining area is also planned as the city works to increase the number of establishments with sidewalk dining.

The facade for Alvi's is undergoing a complete overhaul as renovations for the dining room and kitchen, which will turn out ribs, pulled pork, brisket, chicken, sausage, wings and catfish.

Source: Natalie Rankine, director, Wyandotte Downtown Development Authority
Writer: Kim North Shine

Shuttered Sears store in downtown Wyandotte to become lofts, shops and more

The demolition of a former Sears & Roebuck department store will clear the way for a $5.3 million development of loft apartments, restaurants, retail, and commercial space in downtown Wyandotte.

The neighboring Sears auto repair garage is part of the Roebuck Residential project, which calls for the renovation of the three-story structure at 3061 Biddle Ave. and new construction of a four-story building next door at 3063 Biddle, Wyandotte's main street. Completion is expected by early 2016.

The renovation of the existing three-story building will bring about a 9,600-square-foot first floor to be occupied by a restaurant and other commercial businesses retailers. The second floor of the same square footage will become office space for two tenants, and the third floor, also 9,600 square feet, will be converted into nine loft-style apartments (six one-bedroom units and three two-bedroom units) with access to an open air rooftop terrace. The basement and mezzanine levels of the building will be renovated into storage space and common areas.

A newly constructed four-story building next door will rise in place of demolished department store and will contain an entrance lobby, stairwell, and elevator for the larger mixed-use building next door.

The project has been in the works since 2012 when the DDA purchased the property for $530,000. Since then, storage tanks have been removed from the site and other environmental preparations have been made. The development is expected to be create 56 jobs.

Developer Joe Daly bought the property from the DDA in 2014 for $350,000. Since then, the city of Wyadotte, the DDA, and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation have chipped in tax abatements, grants, and other financial assistance worth nearly $3 million as the parties worked together to transform the long-vacant site into an economically viable part of downtown.

Source: Natalie Rankine, Downtown Development Director, city of Wyandotte
Writer: Kim North Shine

Golf year-round at new downtown Birmingham business

Golf pro Bob Krause has turned a downtown Birmingham office space into a year-round place to learn and practice golf.

4-Seasons Golf, a members-only club inside Suite 21U inside the shorter of the two buildings at 555 South Old Woodward, is outfitted with two indoor golf simulators and three practice bays, one of which will be used for private lessons.

The business is in soft-opening mode after an open house last week that welcomed prospective members.

"We've had great feedback and we're signing up members now. We want to take our time so we can give members the best service possible," says Stephanie Krause, Bob's wife and acting general manager.

"It's a very unique business model," she says. "There's nothing else like it here."

The company's market is all golfers, especially those who can't go south to play during the winter and those who want something other than public golf domes and sports bar simulators to practice in the off-season.

"Golf is an important game to play all year long if you want to keep up your game," says Krause.

The 4,000-square-foot facility was renovated to give it a country club feel, including a pro shop, lockers, changing area, liquor lockers, and other amenities for members. Members can entertain guests for an additional fee or can play against fellow members on the simulators, which are in comfortably furnished rooms and offer a choice of 30 courses.

The practice bays are connected to a software that analyzes every ball hit into nets covering the ceilings.

Private lessons for members and non-members are available, and the entire space can be rented for special events and parties.

Source: Stephanie Krause, acting general manager, 4-Seasons Golf
Writer: Kim North Shine

Micro-creamery concept coming to downtown Northville


The owner of Stuart's Ice Cream & Yogurt, a favorite seasonal ice cream and yogurt shop in Novi, is taking on a partner, expanding to a second location, and embarking on a whole new concept with the opening of a micro-creamery in downtown Northville.

Browndog Creamery & Dessert Bar has been in soft opening mode since Feb. 14, churning out classic and unusual flavors using Michigan-sourced milk and other local products. A grand opening of the business at 118 E. Main St. is set for March 6.

Browndog shares a space with longtime Northville candy shop Chocolates by Renee. Browndog will operate from a renovated space, making small batches of fresh ice cream and desserts year-round with ingredients grown or produced in Michigan whenever possible, says owner Paul Gabriel.

The Michigan focus will carry over to the sale of other products, including Michigan-made coffee and other beverages like Faygo, Nikki's Ginger Tea, and Boxed Water.

Gabriel and partner Brian Scherle, the owner of Stuart's Ice Cream & Yogurt in Novi, say Browndog is Northville's only micro-creamery and will complement the 20-plus restaurants and food shops located downtown.

"Stuart's is named after our first rescue dog," says Gabriel. "Browndog is named after our second rescue dog, Flash. He's brown." More of their story can be found on their new website.

The owners support animal rescue organizations through donations of part of their profits. It's not unusual to see the dogs at the shops. They will both be on hand at the March 6 grand opening.

"We are thrilled to welcome Browndog Creamery & Dessert Bar to our collection of unique eateries in downtown Northville," says Lori Ward, director of the Northville Downtown Development Authority. "Their menu and mission is the perfect complement to the downtown's family of businesses."

Source: Paul Gabriel, owner, Browndog Creamery & Dessert Bar and Jeanne Micallef, IMJ Communications
Writer: Kim North Shine

Dearborn's first microbrewery on schedule for May opening

Dearborn is a few months away from having a microbrewery of its own.

Dearborn Brewing could open by May, says John Rucinski, who along with his wife Sheila Rucinski is renovating a 2,500-square-foot space at 21930 Michigan Ave. in downtown west Dearborn.

Three brewing kettles will be on display in the brewery's storefront windows, visible to passersby. They will be part of a system that includes four fermenters and has the capacity to brew four styles of beer at a time. Six varieties will be on tap.

Beer lover Rucinski began home brewing about 15 years ago. Like so many craft beer brewers, he heard repeatedly from friends and family that he should sell his suds. After years of resisting, he decided Dearborn was the right market.

"There are a couple of jokes going around about why I decided to do it," Rucinski says. "My friends say I got tired of waiting for one to open in Dearborn. My common defense is temporary insanity."

In truth, however, the decision made good business sense. "We looked around saw that this is the right market," says Rucinski, an analyst and project manager for Nissan North America.

Construction and licensing is taking longer than hoped, but Rucinski is patient. "It's coming along," he says. The plan calls for a short bar and open area with 26 seats. If the demand is there, the space has room for a much longer bar on an adjacent wall and capacity for 79 seats.

Dearborn Brewing won't have a kitchen but will offer light snacks and encourage ordering takeout or delivery from nearby restaurants, including one right next door.

The interior design will be a take on a black and tan -- half stout, half lager -- swirling the length of the bar.

Source: John Rucinski, founder Dearborn Brewing
Writer: Kim North Shine

Historic downtown Plymouth post office could be reborn as Westborn Market


The 1930s-era post office in downtown Plymouth, sold in 2013, could become the next location for metro Detroit-based Westborn Market.

The project hinges on whether city officials approve a request to add parking spaces and grant other variances for the property adjoining the post office, an 11,000-square-foot structure that would be renovated with most historical details intact.

Downtown merchants and local preservationists see the project as a meeting of economic progress and historic rehabilitation.

Westborn Market, a 50-year-old family-owned business known for its fresh produce, is seen as a gourmet alternative to mainstream grocers. The company currently has locations in Livonia, Berkley, and Dearborn. The former Pursell Station at 760 Penniman St. in Plymouth would be renovated to become Westborn's fourth market.

The Malcolm family of Plymouth, known for their passion for historic preservation and downtown revitalization, purchased the post office and bargained a lease agreement with Westborn's owners, the Anusbigian family. The city will decide whether to grant the project's special requests at a meeting on March 5. Without approval, the project, which will create jobs and become a day and night traffic generator for downtown, would not be viable.

In their application to be reviewed at the meeting, the Malcolms say, "In addition to providing excellent new products and services for our community, Westborn is expected to provide a significant economic multiplier value and benefit for the general downtown area in the form of attracting customers throughout the day."

Source: city of Plymouth
Writer: Kim North Shine

B. Nektar Meadery to open a new tasting room in Ferndale

B. Nektar Meadery in Ferndale is expanding its tasting room, adding a whole new location in a second building not far from its production facility.

The meadery, which was founded in 2006 by friends and home brewers Brad Dahlhofer and Paul Zimmerman and Brad's wife Kerri, opened its doors for business in 2008. Demand for its mead, cider, and beer has increased yearly, and its tasting room, which is basically a tight space squeezed into the production area and its unfinished surroundings, has become popular with customers who want to have a mead together on site.

Construction is underway on the new and proper tap room, a 1,760-square-feet space that is expected to open in July. The new tasting room will have a hand-built 10-seat bar made of reclaimed and up-cycled barrel and pallet wood, as well as a kitchen to serve food.

When it opens, the production facility will be dedicated to brewing as the owners continue to expand their award-winning brews to other outlets and states.

Source: Brad Dahlhofer, co-founder B. Nektar Meadery
Writer: Kim North Shine

Saginaw Green pocket park planned for downtown Pontiac

A plan to transform a vacant lot in downtown Pontiac into a pocket park that will serve as a gathering spot for visitors is gaining momentum with the help of a recently launched crowdfunding campaign.

Fundraising for the the Saginaw Green project began last week. The proposed park is seen by organizers of the crowdfunding campaign as a complement to the development that is happening throughout Pontiac, especially on and around Saginaw, the city's main street.

The Downtown Pontiac Business Association is working the Michigan Economic Development Corp. and the Michigan Land Bank to develop the green space that will include a gazebo, a movie screen among winding paths and landscaping. Before the lot can be transformed $12,500 must be raised.

It comes as downtown is seeing new development and business, possibly as much as $70 million in the next few years.

Writer: Kim North Shine
Source: Pontiac Downtown Business Association

 
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