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East Grand Rapids : Development News

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Media Place Partners celebrates 10th anniversary with office expansion and doubled business

As Media Place Partners celebrates its 10th anniversary this month, Principal Dave Kettler says the best is yet to come for the Grand Rapids media-services firm, which has doubled its business and created three new positions on staff in the past nine months already. 

"People are just finding out we're here and that we're local and have all the tools and the horsepower to handle anything they want to do," says Kettler, whose agency focuses on media consulting and strategic media planning and purchasing. "…We're leveraging our current clients to tell the story of Media Place and also over the years, we've developed a reputation for doing a good job for our clients."

To accommodate its growing team of media buying experts, MPP relocated to a larger office in Gaslight Village last October, recently expanding its floor space at 2249 Wealthy St. SE to around 1,000 square feet. 

Though MPP's clients are predominately in the markets of healthcare, grocery and higher education and operate on state- and national-level stages, Kettler says it's just as important to his agency to bring in local organizations as clients, with familiar names like Grand Rapids Ballet Co., the Grand Rapids Public Museum and the Grand Rapids Art Museum, Experience GR and Frederick Meijer Gardens on the list of those who have worked with the MPP team in the past.  

""People didn't know we we're here and we're local, so bigger buys would get moved to another town and then small- and medium-sized work didn't think they were big enough to take it to another market, but now we're doing a lot of that," Kettler says. 

He says for those medium-sized clients who don't have enough staff to manage media buys internally, having MPP manage buys from the outside allows businesses owners to focus their own company's manpower on growing their brand more efficiently and effectively. 

"It's really about time; giving people more time and the expertise on top of that to make their media dollars work faster," he says. 

He says his firm is strengthening the manpower of its own staff, looking ahead to building its next layer of employees with the addition of a few new account executives and eventually, another media buyer. Kettler says he hopes to have those new positions in place by the end of the second quarter. 

"I do think West Michigan is growing and we're filling a void that was here in the market," he says. "If we can keep it here local and service here local, everybody wins." 

For more information about Media Place Partners or careers there, visit www.mediaplacepartners.com. 

Written by Anya Zentmeyer, Development News Editor
Images courtesy of Media Place Partners 

EGR offers plan to improve street, sidewalk safety on May 5 ballot

When East Grand Rapids voters go to the polls in May, they will be given the option to approve a 10-year dedicated street and sidewalk millage of up to 2.0 mills.   

Following a Citizen Task Force recommendation that the city of East Grand Rapids seek a 10-year, 2.0 mill dedicated street and sidewalk millage, East Grand Rapids City Commissioners voted unanimously Monday night in favor of putting the millage request on the May 5 ballot, tying it to the state's proposal to raise Michigan sales tax. 

Since this proposal is tied to the state's proposal to raise Michigan sales tax, if the two proposals pass, the city will collect 1.23 mill and 2.0 mills if it fails. If approved, the state proposal would provide less than 1.0 mill of additional revenue. 

Basically, if a 2.0 dedicated street millage passes in May, it will generate approximately $1,170,000 annually for improvements, with an additional $125,000 in road and sidewalk funding depending on the approval of the state proposal.

"This decline would affect safety and aesthetics," said East Grand Rapids Mayor Anna Seidbold in a press release following the Monday night commission meeting. "Poor road conditions can lead to depressed home values, unsafe driving conditions and damage to other city resources and infrastructure. If we don't act now, we will only get further behind on these much-needed repairs." 

Seidbold says it's the safety and navigability of not only the roads, but also the sidewalks that hang in the balance: "The very first thing people say about East Grand Rapids is that we're a walking community, and without being able to keep our sidewalks in walking condition, we don't want there to be safety hazards for the many, many people using our sidewalks."

In a study conducted by the Grand Valley Metro Council, the streets in East Grand Rapids received an average rating of "fair" on the council's Pavement Surface Evaluation and Rating scale in 2013, and conditions have only worsened after last year's winter and continue to deteriorate currently. At current funding levels, it would take 70 years to resurface all of the local roads in East Grand Rapids.

East Grand Rapids commissioners say road funding from the state of Michigan has not accounted for the rising costs of asphalt, concrete, salt and other construction expenses, projecting that if the imbalance continues, 95 percent of the city streets will be rated in poor condition – an average rating of 2.3 on the Grand Valley Metro Council's PASER scale – by 2025. 

"I think one of the most important things is that we had a citizens group look at this and anyone was allowed to join it," Seibold says. "We gave them facts and figures, they asked for more and we gave them more facts and figures, but the overwhelming majority of the citizens group was, after the analysis, that we needed to go out for these 2 mills. So, it was a group of citizens that recommended this and it's nice to have that back up."

Seibold says road conditions rank among the top concerns she hears from East Grand Rapids voters, adding that over the next four months, the city commission with "work to ensure all residents have the details they need to make an informed decision in the ballot box." 

"I'm hoping that it will (pass)," she says. "I don't have any statistics, I don't know, we'll see but that's the great thing is that the voters get to decide. I just know that I get many, many calls and concerns and complaints from people wanting our roads to be in better conditions and as mayor, it's my job to look at how we can meet those needs. With our current funding, we can't, and we have to be realistic about that." 

Click here for more information on the proposal or links to supporting documents such as the citizens group findings, budget breakdown and millage proposal fact sheet.

Written by Anya Zentmeyer, Development News Editor
 

Get a "kick" out of getting around with Micro Kickboard's stylish scooters

Even a one-year-old can handle the quick, easy, stylish transportation offered by Micro Kickboard, one of the newest shops in East Grand Rapids' Gaslight Village shopping district.

Swiss-made, sturdy, and lightweight portability all in one easy-to-ride, foldable scooter that's perfect for those quick jaunts that are too long for walking and too short for driving. Factor in the assortment of cool colors, artistic design, and on-board brakes and these scooters could truly appeal to anybody.

Geoff and Julie Hawksworth own the only U.S. Micro Kickboard distributorship and decided now is the time to open the first U.S. storefront, 2151 Wealthy St. SE, featuring only Micro Kickboard scooters, accessories, and parts and service. Previously, the scooters could only be found in places like toy stores and bike stores.

There are scooters for ages one year and up. Some have two wheels and kickstands for easy upright parking, others have three wheels for more stability, and the extreme models are for stuntsters and tricksters. Telescoping handlebars adjust to the height needed and fold down for easy storage. The scooters weigh between four and ten pounds, making them light to carry. The small size makes them ideal for students to tuck under a classroom seat or in a locker, or for businesspeople to store in a cubicle.

There's even a Micro Luggage style that combines the convenience of a scooter with a rolling carry-on suitcase -- you just get off the plane, fold out the scooter, and scoot to your next gate or to the rental car desk with your belongings safe inside the suitcase.

"They have a minimalist design, highest quality materials, and very tight construction, so we say you don't shake and rattle when you roll," says Julie Hawksworth. "They have an exceptionally smooth glide and are exceptionally durable. You feel very elegant on the adult scooters and they're very fun for getting from A to B."

Store hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mon. - Fri.; 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sat.

Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor
Images courtesy of Micro Kickboard

Celadon New Town developer puts energies, vision into new $6.5M East Grand Rapids development

The company behind Celadon New Town, a contemporary urban neighborhood development in northeast Grand Rapids, has begun construction on a project that will bring a penthouse, 10 townhomes, and a single-family home to the heart of East Grand Rapids.

Brad Rottschafer, owner of Mosaic Properties & Homes, has begun construction preparation for three new buildings where four rental houses once stood.

The buildings will consist of a three-story retail/office structure with a 2,000-square-foot penthouse, a 10-townhouse building with a central courtyard and private garages, and a two-story single-family home. The $6.5 million project, Croswell Mews, brings a new style of living to a desirable, walkable area close to restaurants, shopping, schools, and Reeds Lake -- a lifestyle that Rottschafer says has already attracted buyers.

"The live/work building is already sold," Rottschafer says, referring to the retail/office building with the penthouse. Although he declined to name the buyer, he says the owner will live in the penthouse and "is going to put his company in the building."

The single-family home and seven of the townhomes are already under contract, as well. The townhomes are each approx. 2,000 square feet with a garage and family room on the main level, living spaces on the second level, and three bedrooms on the third level. Prices range from $425,000 to $479,000.

"People want to be close to the grocery store, Starbucks, even the school for sporting events," he says. "There's a lot of energy in that downtown and people like that. (Croswell Mews) just adds to the conversation and the vision of what the city has for the community. I think it continues to build the core of the city as a very quaint, unique environment that draws people."

Rottschafer is quick to give credit for the momentum in East Grand Rapids' downtown to the new Gaslight Village created a few years back by Jade Pig Ventures.

"Building to the street, hiding the parking, making these areas walkable, that's the thing that brings energy to the area," he says. "When you revitalize an area, people want to walk and see what's there."
 
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor
Images courtesy of Mosaic Properties & Homes

East Grand Rapids townhomes completed, 16 dwellings increase density three-fold for shops, eateries

Orion Construction has completed the construction of Bagley Townhomes, 16 brick townhomes stretching from 727 to 797 Bagley Ave. SE, East Grand Rapids, and has handed the keys to the purchaser of the final unit, says Orion Real Estate Solutions President John Wheeler.

The project to demolish six single-family houses and replace them with two all-brick buildings containing eight townhomes each was approved by the East Grand Rapids planning commission in 2007, but construction couldn't begin until five years later due to the economic recession.

Today, with all 16 dwellings filled, more than three times the number of people live in that same block compared to the number of residents in 2007 -- potential customers living just a few steps from the quaint downtown and its eclectic mix of shopping, restaurants, coffee shops, and parks.

"(The country) got a transient situation with the last recession," Wheeler says. "People want to stay in their neighborhoods where they raised their children, but they have large homes they don't need anymore. The new urbanism is a really big deal, to try to provide products where you don't always need to be in your car, where you can get some exercise, have some fun, and get to know your neighborhood better. (Cities) need to pave the way for good developers who have the vision for homes that could improve the city for everybody."

Wheeler says Orion Construction was involved with the project from the planning stage through handing off the finished final townhome to the owners after customizing the interiors.

"People get creative with their homes," Wheeler says. "You build to a generic specification, then the owners worked with interior designers to customize the interiors by moving walls and adding upgrades. Everybody had their own ideas of what was cool and we implemented many, many details like contemporary lighting in the high ceilings and high-end cabinets."

Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor
Images courtesy of Orion Construction

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Gazelle Sports to open branded Lole women's athletic wear store in East Grand Rapids

A new Lolë brand store offering women's athletic wear will open soon in East Grand Rapids thanks to local athletic store Gazelle Sports. The shop is only the second Lolë shop in the United States for the Montreal, Canada-based brand.

The store is under construction in the former Smooch Beauty Boutique space at 2213 Wealthy St. SE. Lolë, which stands for Live Out Loud Everyday, approached Gazelle Sports to open and operate the store.

"Lolë is one of the brands Gazelle Sports became familiar with five or six years ago, and it aligned very, very nicely with our female clients," says Gazelle's Director of Retail Stores Nancy Greer. "We have continued to grow and develop that line, and when the opportunity came, they approached us to talk about opening the store."

Lolë's only other U.S. location is in Salt Lake City, UT.    
 
Beyond offering women's athletic apparel and shoes, the shop aims to partner with local fitness studios, yoga studios, personal athletic trainers, and nutritionists to offer weekly athletic clinics and classes geared to improving women's health.

Greer says Gazelle is not ready to announce who those community "ambassadors" are, and is still working to seal the deal on the final relationships. She did say that Gazelle seeks 12 ambassadors throughout Greater Grand Rapids to hold the events at the Lolë store, events at their own studios, and larger community-wide events at offsite locations.

The store will open at the end of March or first part of April. Gazelle seeks 12 part-time retail associates to operate the store. For more information, contact Gazelle Sports.

Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Five months in, going strong, Baby Mine celebrates with grand opening

Five months after the first customer walked in its doors, East Grand Rapids' Baby Mine has weathered its first fashion season and will celebrate with a grand opening event.

The baby and children's boutique at 2237 Wealthy St. SE in Gaslight Village offers boys' and girls' clothes sizes newborn to 5T, unusual gifts for new moms, soft toys for toddlers, and more. Many items are unique to the store and not found in other stores in the area, says co-owner Kimberly Gill, who opened the store in October 2013 with her daughter Bethany Smith.

Gill spoke to Rapid Growth between appointments at an East Michigan buyer's show this week, where she and Smith were busy selecting fall 2014 fashions and toys for the store. The spring selections will start filling the racks next month.

"When we started Baby Mine, we didn't know how much inventory to buy," Gill says. "We started a little late for winter inventory, so we had a bit more than if we'd opened in August, but we had to fill the store. We're getting a lot of people buying baby gifts.

"The toys have been selling great, the Constructive Eating has been selling really well; Rubbabu soft cars and trucks have been selling really well, and the Valco Doll Prams have been selling really well," she adds. "We cater to the kids (while Mom shops), have snacks for them, cars and strollers they can play with, and they fill up the doll pram with things like a shopping cart and they love it."

And Gill says they've had many requests for kids' shoes, so summer shoes will be part of the shop's spring and summer offerings, along with clothing, bathing suits, hats, and Babiators, a line of sunglasses for infants and children.

"We are not outrageously priced," Gill says. "We try to find clothing that appeals to everybody's taste and wallet, and try to have price ranges so that anybody that comes in can find a gift."

The grand opening event is Thurs., Feb. 27, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., with a ribbon-cutting at 10 a.m.

Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor
Images courtesy of Baby Mine.

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Cool kids' clothes, cuddly toys, trendy gifts for moms - Baby Mine brings it all to Gaslight Village

A year after purchase, Seva Yoga owners expand yoga school, add classes, start mountain biking team

It's been a year of passion and inspiration, says Melissa Tungl when she speaks of the purchase of East Grand Rapids' Seva Yoga studio and retail shop. Tungl and her husband Tobi bought the business in January 2013.

Since then, Melissa, who manages the business, has put heart and soul into adding classes at 2237 Wealthy St. SE, expanding the yoga certification school, and offering classes to benefit local charities. Next up is the 2014 sponsorship of a mountain biking team.

"Tobi is a mountain biker and, starting next year, Seva will sponsor Seva Cycling," Tungl says. "It's interesting how my passion for teaching yoga has blended so nicely with his passion for mountain biking."

The number of daily classes for gentle yoga, Hatha yoga, and Vinyasa has grown. This week, the studio has 26 classes on the calendar, which Tungl says is a typical number for any given week.

Along with an increased demand for classes comes a heightened demand for registered yoga teachers. Tungl has expanded the existing school, now offering prospective teachers the ability to become a registered yoga teacher with the 200-hour RYT program or an optional 500-hour RYT program.

"There are a lot of opportunities for yoga teachers in West Michigan. Seva graduates are teaching at gyms, studios, and schools," she says, adding that she got her own certification through Seva Yoga and became an instructor before buying the business. "I had always practiced yoga, and getting my certification was calling to me. I took my training at Seva Yoga, so I feel that I have roots here. When I'm teaching, it's such a unique experience. I feel a very deep connection to everyone in the room."

Throughout the year, Seva Yoga has sponsored special donation-only classes to benefit specific charities. The studio donates the space for the classes and the yoga teachers donate their time. These classes generated nearly $3,000 for the Humane Society of West Michigan, Kids’ Food Basket, and Purple Community.

"Seva means 'selfless service,'" Tungl says. "That's been one of the big highlights for me and makes it so rewarding. It's very satisfying to go to work and to just love it. I don't know how many people can say they get to show their passion to people every day."

Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor
Photos courtesy of Seva Yoga

Mosaic Properties bringing new mixed-use development to East Grand Rapids

Mosaic Properties, with a portfolio that includes the rapidly growing "new urbanist" Celadon neighborhood near Knapp Street and Leffingwell Avenue in Grand Rapids, received preliminary approval from the East Grand Rapids Planning Commission on December 2nd to build a new mixed-use development in East Grand Rapids near Gaslight Village.

The project, the first of its kind in East Grand Rapids, will include twelve residential units, 2000 square feet of office space, and 1200 square feet of ground floor retail. Ten of the residential units will be three-story townhouse units surrounding a courtyard with enclosed parking facing the rear of the buildings. The project will also feature a 2000-square-foot penthouse with an elevator and a three-story live-work unit.

Mosaic currently owns the four homes on Croswell Avenue just South of Gaslight Village, which will be removed to make way for the development. The property backs up to a townhouse project that was completed last year on Bagley Avenue.

As property becomes more and more scarce in this highly sought after community, builders and developers are getting more creative and pushing for more dense, urban-style projects. Several of the Planning Commisioners raised concerns about parking and the density of the project, but eventually gave approval to move forward to the site plan review process in early 2014.

Writer: Jeff Hill, Publisher
Images courtesy of Mosaic Properties

Cool kids' clothes, cuddly toys, trendy gifts for moms - Baby Mine brings it all to Gaslight Village

Knit owl hats, brown tweed blazers, soft coats with giant roses for buttons, and spoons and forks shaped like bright yellow bulldozers -- the world of children's fashions and toys inside Baby Mine goes way beyond traditional pink and blue.

Baby Mine, a cozy boutique filled with cool boys' and girls' clothes sizes newborn to 5T, unusual gifts for new moms, soft toys for toddlers, and much more, opened last week at 2237 Wealthy St. SE, East Grand Rapids -- just a few steps from the playful splash fountain that attracts kids of all ages.

Mom and daughter duo Kimberly Gill and Bethany Smith bring their personal experiences of being moms and being a grandma (Gill) of toddlers to the fore when selecting merchandise: nearly everything in the store is not only soft, but is organic, eco-friendly, or made in the USA.

"We wanted clothes that were unique and soft," says Gill as she smoothes a blanket made from silky bamboo. "We're very kid-friendly and let the kids play with all the toys."

The store is both kid- and mom-friendly, with a private breastfeeding area for shoppers who need it and a restroom with a diaper-changing table -- amenities not often found in small boutiques.

The shop's Michigan-made items include Uncle Goose (Grand Rapids) wooden building block sets of Christmas themes, nursery rhyme images, or Braille; and Constructive Eating (Ann Arbor) utensils and plates.

USA-made items include Haute Baby clothing, City Threads boys' fashions, Bamboosa blankets, and others.

Organically produced and eco-friendly products range from GroVia cloth diapers to Kushies clothing to Sweet Peanut baby essentials.

Current hours: Mon. - Sat. 10 - 6; holiday hours beginning Nov. 29, Mon. - Sat. 9:30 - 8.

Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor
Photos: Deborah Johnson Wood

Bagley Townhouses aim to bring easy living to East Grand Rapids' Gaslight Village neighborhood

Just a half a block from East Grand Rapids' chic Gaslight Village business district, 16 new townhouses rise on connected properties that used to have just six single-family houses. Bagley Townhouses -- eight units in two all-brick brownstones -- offer condominium living within walking distance of Reeds Lake, the lakeside Collins Park, and some of West Michigan's best restaurants, salons, and shopping.

Spearheaded by developer and lifelong East Grand Rapids resident Joe Hooker, the project extends from 727 to 797 Bagley Ave. SE. Main floor units offer front porches and 1,300-square-feet of living space with an optional basement buildout to 2,600 square feet. The units have two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and an optional third bedroom and bath in the basement level.

Above, the second floor units feature a front balcony, 1,600 square feet, two bedrooms, and two baths, with an option to add a Murphy bed in a possible third bedroom/office combination.

Standard finishes include granite countertops and hardwood floors in the kitchens. First buyers can customize and select upgrades.

"I started buying single-family homes in 2001, and bought six single family homes over six years and rented them out," Hooker says. "[The brownstone project] was originally approved by the city of East Grand Rapids in 2007, but due to the overwhelming forces of the economy, we couldn't move forward. About eight months ago, we decided to finally move forward and demo the buildings so we could start construction."

The project was re-approved in late 2011. Greenridge Realty (2213 Wealthy St. SE, East Grand Rapids) has a showroom with finishes options. Interested buyers will get help selecting their finishes from the Bagley Townhouses interior designer.

Hooker says seven of the units in the first building and two of the units in the second building are sold, leaving seven units available. The first building will be complete in January 2013; the second building will follow in February. Prices range from $289,000 to $319,000.
    
Source: Joe Hooker, Bagley Townhouses
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

East Grand Rapids home to new urban bicycle showroom, repair shop

A new oasis for urban cyclists is open for business near East Grand Rapids' Gaslight Village. Grand Rapids Bicycle Company renovated the former The Moving Company building (644 Lovett Ave. SE) into a hip cycle showroom offering pedal transportation for everyone from pre-pedal age through adult.

The showroom is the company's second location and follows the spring opening of its main store, Grand Rapids Bicycle Company and Trailhead Café, at 1200 East Paris SE, near Bill & Paul's Sporthaus.

"We can repair, maintenance, and tune anything out there," says store manager Thomas Fish. "The quality of personalized service is the main thing we're trying to differentiate ourselves with. No matter if you have a kids' bike or an expensive road bike, we're going to make sure it fits and that you're happy with it."

Fish is a United Bicycle Institute-certified bike mechanic. He says the Bicycle Company's other two mechanics, Eric Fisher and K. C. Trotter, have a combined 46 years of cycle repair experience and a number of certifications.

Besides maintenance and repair, the shop carries U.S.-made Jamis Bikes and Felt Bicycles, Cervelo Cycles high-end racing bikes, and Surly "fat bikes" for winter riding. The shop also offers a selection of kids' bikes from wooden, pedal-free balance bikes for tiny riders to kickbikes, to frames sized for 8-, 10-, and 12-year-olds. And the store carries a variety of accessories, including clothing, gloves, Burley products, and more.

Fall/Winter hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mon.-Fri.; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sat.

Source: Thomas Fish, Grand Rapids Bicycle Company
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

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Dear Prudence offers unusual jewelry finds in small, chic East Grand Rapids shop

What's black and white and chic all over? Dear Prudence, a fun new jewelry haven in East Grand Rapids.

Dear Prudence, owned by Prudence Kauffman, is a diminutive 400-square-foot boutique with a black and white color scheme that allows the intriguing jewelry and gifts inside to take center stage. The store (701 Bagley St. SE, East Grand Rapids) carries jewelry and items that Kauffman hopes can be found only at Dear Prudence.

"We mostly carry jewelry, mostly made in the U.S., but we do have one fair trade line to support women and their families in Central and South America," says Kauffman, 40, who says both she and the store are named after the Beatles tune, "Dear Prudence." "We made sure we're carrying things that are different than anyplace in town, and have agreements with some of the artisans to be the only store in Grand Rapids carrying these products."

Besides unique Chanel button jewelry by Chicago artist Patti Lynch and Luminous Creation mixed metal jewelry by Grand Rapids artist Jaclyn Dreyer, the store also carries one-of-a-kind fingerprint jewelry made from customers' fingerprints. Customers press their fingerprints into a wax mold, and Dear Prudence sends it to the manufacturer to be dipped in silver and fashioned into necklaces, bracelets, cuff links or tie tacks.

"We just did one for a friend who had twins, and we took the babies' prints and made them into jewelry," Kauffman says.

Kauffman and her husband, Brad, relocated to the Grand Rapids area after 20 years in Winston-Salem, NC, because Brad's job was transferred here. The dream of the store has been percolating for years and became reality after Kauffman recovered from uterine cancer.

"Brad said if we get through this, we're going to do every single thing we ever wanted to do," Kauffman says. "I'm cancer free now, so we started researching the store and putting together every idea we had."

Hours: Mon. - Sat., 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Sun. noon to 5. Online shopping at DearPrudence.com will be available soon.

Source: Prudence Kauffman, Dear Prudence
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Sacred Roots combines visual art, hair styling to create unique salon in East Grand Rapids

Local artists have a new outlet for displaying their work surrounded by Hollywood Glam décor at East Grand Rapids' new Sacred Roots Salon.

The salon (2237 Wealthy St. SE, Suite 150), situated between Derby Station and Hot Mama's in Gaslight Village, caters to clients' hairstyling needs and doubles as an exclusive art gallery where one local artist a month can showcase his or her works without competing with other artists.

"I love art and supporting local artists," says owner James Garnant. "So the first Thursday of every month we have a cocktail party and a new installation by a new artist goes in."

Zeeland artist Katherine Throne is there through July, says Garnant. Beginning August 2, the salon will feature photographer Mike Kelley, with another artist following in September.

Garnant says he has been a hairdresser for 20 years and the salon helps him fulfill his dream of bring art to the public in a cozy and relaxed atmosphere.

"Hair is an art form in itself, and like attracts like and so it attracts artists," Garnant says. "I'm really big on making this a community gathering space where people feel they're not just getting their hair done but can come and hang out."

Hours: Weekdays 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sat., 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Source: James Garnant, Sacred Roots Salon; Carey Potter, Brick House Marketing Group
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Instructional painting studio offering food, drinks opens in East Grand Rapids

Aspiring artists can try their hand at acrylic painting over a glass of wine or beer at the newly opened Brush Studio (2213 Wealthy St. SE, East Grand Rapids).

The 1,600-square-foot instructional art studio offers two-hour instructional painting classes that take students from a blank canvas to a piece of art worthy of their household wall. Classes cost $35.

"You sign up online based on the painting that you are interested in learning," explains Lisa Jabara, owner of Brush Studio. "We have an instructor that instructs you on that painting -- say, it's Starry Night -- brush stroke by brush stroke from start to finish."

Brush is able to accommodate small groups that would like to reserve a table as well as larger private parties of 20 or more who wish to rent out the entire space. Jabara also plans to offer team-building classes to local businesses, which can be held on or off site.

In addition to painting classes and open painting, the studio has also partnered with nearby Ramona's Table to create food options for customers to enjoy while they work. The restaurant developed a menu of appetizers, sandwiches and salads. The studio will offer several Michigan beers and wines as well as some non-local options. The wine and beer menu includes Oberon, Bells Two Hearted, Little Black Dress and Dreaming Tree.

"It's such a fun atmosphere to have a bunch of people painting. And there's music, and everybody is drinking wine and beer," Jabara says. "It's a great time."

Brush is not just a place for adults; the studio offers family-focused classes on Saturdays and Sundays for parents and their kids.

The store is open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. for open painting. To learn more visit, www.brushgr.com.

Source: Lisa Jabara, Brush Studio
Writer: Charlsie Dewey, Freelance Reporter
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