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Newly opened Harmony Hall hosts holiday fundraiser to benefit Westown Collaborative

About two months after its official Oct. 6 grand opening, brewpub Harmony Hall is finally getting settled in its new neighborhood.

“Being in a new neighborhood, for us, was really exciting, and the West Side has got such a strong and intact culture and history,” says Heather Van Dyke-Titus, who co-owns Harmony Hall with brothers Barry and Jackson Van Dyke. “We figured we’d have to come and kind of prove ourselves but we were just met with a lot of graciousness and welcoming right off the bat.”

After nearly two years of planning and construction on the 12,000-square-foot building, the 34-tap German-style beer hall boasts original woodwork on the ground floor with seating for 60, and as spacious second floor beer hall with a full menu and 200-person capacity.

Located at 401 Stocking Ave. NW, the building was most recently home to the former restaurant Little Mexico and originally housed the Rauser Quality Sausage Factory. Van Dyke-Titus says its history as the latter informed some of Harmony Hall’s themes and menu, but also its method, with the venue butchering locally sourced whole hogs from Heffron Farms on-site to create what she says is Harmony Hall’s “different perspective on sausage” dishes.

“We have your mainstays..but we also look to different cultures because many different cultures have a sausage,” she says, citing the South Korean and Thai-influenced sausage dishes currently on the menu.

Throughout the month of December, Harmony Hall will be releasing a new holiday-themed beer every Wednesday, brewed with its own 10-barrel system with 20-barrel fermenters in house.

Yesterday, Harmony Hall released the first of four holiday-themed beers, Barrel Aged Winter Nights, during a benefit event it hosted to support neighbors at the Westown Collaborative, a group of community organizations dedicated to “…a diverse Westside community marked by equity, inclusion, and hope.”

The event included a tree-lighting ceremony, carolers in the evening, and an opportunity for patrons to purchase a $5 keepsake ornament, with all profits going directly to Westown Collaborative to help fund mini-grants for resident-led initiatives like community gardens and other programming.

“The more time I’ve spent over here, the more I’ve grown to have genuine affection for the neighborhood,” says Van Dyke-Titus. “We’ve always felt really solid about our decision, but the longer we’re here, the more confident we feel.”

For more information, visit www.harmonybeer.com or find Harmony Hall on Facebook.

By Anya Zentmeyer, Development News Editor
Images courtesy of Stephanie Harding

Children's store Pink Lemonade opens in Gaslight Village boutique

A new children’s clothing store and boutique opened last month in East Grand Rapids’ Gaslight Village. Pink Lemonade Boutique celebrated its official grand opening with a Nov. 10 ribbon cutting at 703 Bagley Ave. SE.

Jill Zagar co-owns Pink Lemonade Boutique with her mother, Paula Hall, and said she got the idea to open the children’s clothing boutique after helping a friend start her own boutique in Pentwater called The Lemonade Stand.

“I like to shop; everything in my store is stuff I would buy for myself,” Zagar says, adding that she was in charge of buying all of the inventory for The Lemonade Stand and somewhere along the line, “got the bug.”

With an existing full-time job at Aquinas College, Zagar says she likes Pink Lemonade’s proximity to the school because it offers an easy commute for both her and the students she employs.

“I love the community of Gaslight Village, and it’s very close to Aquinas, so I have my students work for me,” she says. “And it’s nice for them because it’s close, and then I can stop in on my lunches and see how things are going.”

Featuring “unique gifts for children, home, and her,” Zagar says she designed Pink Lemonade Boutique’s interiors to be as fun and whimsical as her products.

“I wanted it to feel fun,” she says. “I wanted everyone to be able to find something for either a baby or for her, or for the home. I wanted it to have a neat feeling when you walk inside that you can’t leave without getting something.”

For more information, visit Pink Lemonade Boutique on Facebook.

By Anya Zentmeyer, Development News Editor
Images courtesy of Pink Lemonade Boutique

Neighbors eagerly greet new used bookstore Bombadil Books in S. Division space

Owners Danielle Alexander and Tim Albon say they were overwhelmed by the turnout for the grand opening of the new Bombadil Books at 315 S. Division, but in a good way. 

“It’s great to see people so excited to have a used bookstore in downtown Grand Rapids again,” says Alexander, who held a grand opening ceremony with co-owner Albon on Nov. 11 for their new Avenue for the Arts storefront. 

Though Alexander and Albon met while working in Denver, the Midwest-born entrepreneurs say they've always had a longterm plan of opening a used bookstore, but they didn't think it would be able to flourish in a large community like Denver. 

“You definitely can’t start a small business at our age with our income level in a city as big as Denver,” Alexander says. “We started looking at commercial properties available in Grand Rapids and found this location we’re at now. It costs what I was paying for a studio apartment in Denver, so we thought, why not?”

After finding the building in August through the neighborhood revitalization corporation Dwelling Place, Alexander moved in September to start moving into the S. Division live-work space, which boasts 1,000 square feet of ground floor retail with separate first-floor living quarters behind. With past experience job shadowing at Literary Life on Wealthy Street, which has since closed and reopened as the non-profit Great Lakes Commonwealth of Letters, Alexander saw a need of a bookstore in the downtown Grand Rapids area, especially after the closings of Literary Life and Schuler’s Books on Monroe Center. 

She says “knowing (Literary Life) wasn’t here and there wasn’t an used bookstore — not even a new bookstore — except for Argo’s in Eastown,” was what ultimately motivated them to open Bombadil, and she says they’re glad they did. 

“It’s great just being a part of the Avenue for the Arts and being a part of that small business community with people who have similar backgrounds to ours, who don’t necessarily have experience with owning a business, but are, a lot of them, artists who become business owners,” she says. “I don’t think we could have done this in any other neighborhood in Grand Rapids right now.”

Unique in its membership program, which allows customers to trade their own used books for in-store credit, Alexander and Albon say they wanted to have a more curated collection for Bombadil, with a range of genres and book styles to mirror its growing diversity in customers. 

Right now, the pair say they want the space to be flexible and hope to host more gallery showings for area artists and photographers, as well as poetry readings and workshops on repair and conservation of used books, which is Albon’s specialty. 

Ultimately, Alexander and Albon say they want Bombadil to be more than just a used bookstore — they want their storefront to be a meaningful part of the neighborhood’s fabric. 

“We’re keeping it pretty fluid and open to see what people want from the bookstore, and that was really important to us in setting up and trying to use a membership model, or a ‘co-op model,’ as people are coining it,” she says. “We want it definitely to be a community space, a neighborhood book shop.”

For more information about Bombadil Books, visit them online or find them here on Facebook

By Anya Zentmeyer, Development News Editor
Images courtesy of Tyler Wendling/Annamarie Buller 

Related articles:
A closer look: Three ways Avenue of the Arts programming is changing S. Division

Cedar Springs celebrates opening of new brewing company on N. Main Street

About one year after their last October groundbreaking, construction teams at Orion Construction and owners of Cedar Springs Brewing Company celebrated the brewery’s grand opening with a ribbon cutting ceremony last week.

Located a little more than 20 miles north of Grand Rapids at 95 N. Main Street in downtown Cedar Springs, the brewery’s craft beer selection focuses on German style brews, and the new venture features a full food menu and house line of wine, cider and non-alcoholic beverages. 

“We are thrilled to be open for business,” says owner David Ringler, who was inspired by his own four-year apprenticeship with local brewmasters in Germany when developing the concept for Cedar Springs Brewing Company “…In a town like Cedar Springs, where people were greatly affected by the economic environment of previous years, opening any new business spurs momentum and creates a sense of confidence. I am fortunate enough to have been able to bring my dream to fruition, offer full-time employment opportunities and create a space the community can enjoy.” 

Integrated Architecture provided the design for the 5,700-square-foot building, using primarily steel, brick and glass materials with large windows to provide ample natural light for the indoor seating. Benefiting from its close proximity to Cedar Springs’ White Pine Trail, Ringler says the brewery is oriented to provide for future expansion and the addition of an outdoor biergarten, with additional plans to begin making their own distilled spirits in-house. 

The project was financed by Choice One Bank with an incentive package from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), awarded to Cedar Springs Brewing Co. for its potential for major economic impact and revitalization of the city’s downtown. 

Orion spokesperson Jason Wheeler says the general contractors see the project as a true catalyst for growth in downtown Cedar Springs.

“The Cedar Springs Brewing Company not only offers a great atmosphere and product, but in the short time they’ve been open, I think investors, residents, and the micro-brewing community have been reassured and even inspired by the support the brewery has had,” Wheeler says. “This truly is a catalyst for growth in Cedar Springs and that is not a cliché statement. It’s a reality.”

Orion is preparing for another groundbreaking celebration this month at 500 Coit Ave. in Grand Rapids’ Belknap Lookout neighborhood to celebrate the beginning of construction on its mixed-use development project The Gateway at Belknap, with remarks from Mayor-elect Rosalynn Bliss and members of the MEDC. 

To learn more about The Gateway At Belknap, visit www.orionbuilt.com. For more information about Cedar Springs Brewing Co., visit the brewery online or find them on Facebook

By Anya Zentmeyer, Development News Editor
Images courtesy of Orion Construction


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CKO Kickboxing franchise to open on ground floor of NW Monroe building

CKO Kickboxing will open at the start of next year on the ground floor of 616 Development’s Lofts on Monroe at 820 Monroe Ave. NW. 

The 3,500-square-foot franchise location is owned and operated by Studio Reno, LLC, with president and CEO Shelby Reno bringing 20 years of prior knowledge and experience along with her to the new space. 

“There’s something about the North Monroe district that I like,” Reno says. “If I had to live downtown it would be that neighborhood. Maybe because it’s industrial and up-and coming but the energy itself just gets me there.”

She says courses at CKO Kickboxing are uniquely focused on core training, with heavy bags and drag on the floor to focus on the “eight strike points” on a person’s body. 

“I probably did about 2,500 strikes on my legs…left at the end of the six days without a single bruise or broken blood vessel,” Reno says. “A strike happens from your core, you’re turning and opening up your hit and firing from the core.” 

Along with the gym floor, CKO Kickboxing will have its own retail space, where Reno will sell unique workout items and comfortable clothing that’s hard to find elsewhere. 

“I’m really trying to think outside the box with what I can offer and what I always feel like I’m not getting in town are those ripped up, messy shredded…kind of stringy shirts that are cool to wear, loose or form fitting, really comfortable to work out in but you can also wear them with a pair of shorts,” Reno says. 

For more information on the January 2016 opening, visit www.ckogr.com. 

Written by Anya Zentmeyer, Development News Editor
Images courtesy of CKO Kickboxing 

C2 Group joins tech companies in new space at 560 5th St.

Software developers C2 Group will hold a Nov. 18 open house at its new 7,185-square-foot, first-floor suite at 560 5th St. NW.

The full-service custom software, design and web applications provider was bought in April by Michael Kunzler after spending seven years as its director of client solutions.

“Some of the changes that we made have been wide and vast, but other things, like the name, have stayed the same,” Kunzler says. “It’s fair to look at us and say one of the only things that stayed the same is the name. We’ve had a lot of really solid talent that we’ve brought with us. A lot of the people are the same, the roles are the same, but we’re really widening our approach to the market.” 

Kunzler says they’ve already begun to see the benefits of the new downtown open floor plan in boosting employee morale. 

“It’s hard to quantify, but we’ve already noticed big benefits just in terms of increased collaboration, people from different teams that may have been historically separated are now sitting and talking amongst each other and sharing ideas,” he says.

Over the course of 2016, C2 Group expects to grow its staff about 30 percent, and says C2 Group does have “a type.” 

“The people really successful here are high talent, low ego,” he says. “That’s the driving factor. They enjoy collaboration, they enjoy serving clients and they enjoy knowing the standards as well. It doesn’t mean you have to be arrogant about it.” 

For more information, visit c2experience.com.

Written by Anya Zentmeyer, Development News Editor
Images courtesy of C2 Group

[Has Heart] celebrates Veteran's Day with grand opening of Heartside store

This Veteran's Day, local nonprofit and volunteer-run organization [Has Heart] is honoring vets and celebrating the grand opening of its new retail, gallery space, and event venue located at 115 S. Division Ave with a Nov. 11 grand opening event.  

Founded in 2011 by U.S. Navy Vet and entrepreneur Michael Hyacinthe alongside artist and designer Tyler Way, [Has Heart] connects the two unlikely realms of art and military to highlight the most poignant parts of both. The 1,000-square-foot gallery/retail hybrid will showcase artwork for sale from the HERO[series], where [Has Heart] pairs veterans with artists who then work side by side to tell the vet’s story through art, design, and fashion.

“We really wanted it to be a hybrid of something that’s clean and modern and minimalist, but at the same time, bring in that classic, sort of timeless military aesthetic,” says Way, describing the white painted brick walls lined with black trim. 

He says the aesthetic contrast serves to create both a blank slate for showcasing artwork and acts as a sort of metaphor for [Has Heart]’s mission — creating profound harmonies between concepts and ideas traditionally thought of as dissonant. 

“It’s similar to how we bring the military and creative world together, which are typically opposites; but they work really well together,” he says. 

[Has Heart] opened originally before this year’s ArtPrize event as a venue for the HERO[series] before deciding to stay and make 115 S. Division its permanent home. 

“It made sense for us to be in here for ArtPrize and then remain open after ArtPrize,” he says. “People can continue to come in, experience design, see the stories long after ArtPrize is gone.”

The Nov. 11 grand opening event will kick off with a ribbon cutting ceremony at 6 p.m. with veterans and artists from the 2015 HERO[series] in attendance and appetizers catered by South Division neighbors at Bandit Queen. 

“South Division is definitely an up-and-coming street with a lot of good independent stores and boutiques, a lot of good, young, creative people that bring a lot of passion to their craft,” Way says. “We kind of thought that blend of what Avenue for the Arts is would be a perfect fit for us because we’re also walking that line of being an arts collective organization, although product sales is how we sustain the organization — we’re playing both sides of art and retail.”

For more information, visit [Has Heart] on Facebook or at www.supportfhh.com. 

By Anya Zentmeyer, Development News Editor
Images courtesy of [Has Heart] on Facebook



Related articles: 

Fashion Has Heart for ArtPrize

Happy Memorial Day from Rapid Growth

The combination of art, design and fashion supports wounded veteran heroes

Tyler Way's Collection
 

Former Klingman furniture building completes $22 million renovation to residential lofts

Developers and project managers at LC Companies and Rockford Construction Co. celebrated another successful rehab project in downtown Grand Rapids last week, converting the 118-year-old former Klingman furniture building into 83 residential living units, now Klingman Lofts. 

Located at 400 Ionia Ave. SW across from Grand Rapids’ Downtown Market, it’s not the first time the two companies have partnered on a project in the neighborhood, having previously converted the similarly century-old Baker furniture building into residential units back in 2013

“The urban area has become attractive to all population groups in general, but there certainly is a segment of the affordable housing community downtown that is in need,” says LC President Mike Jacobson. “We did a substantial market analysis in order to determine (this) area would be attractive for residents and it turned out to be a great space.” 

Jacobson says LC Companies and Rockford Construction Co. worked closely with local historians and architects to develop the building in accordance with its historical past, also working with the Michigan State Historic society to make sure the unique character and context of the space holds true throughout the development and construction processes. 

At four stories and 112,000 square feet, the building required the installation of more than 600 helical piers to prevent the structure from sinking, taking somewhere around 15 months to complete and costing $22 million in total. 

“It’s a type of work that we’ve done a fair amount of since roughly 2000, so we’re accustomed to it and it really turns into a wonderful product,” Jacobson says. “Our residents really like it and, if done properly, it’s great for the community as well.” 

Written by Anya Zentmeyer, Development News Editor
Images courtesy of LC Companies/Rockford Construction Co. 


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Baker Lofts $18.5M rehab brings affordable living to vacant warehouse on Grand Rapids' SW side

Baker Lofts starts to take shape near the new Urban Market

'Canine boutique salon' Fido & Stitch to open on ground floor of new Belknap Lookout development

As 616 Development prepares to move in the first tenants Nov. 1 at its $22 million, four-story renovation project at 820 Monroe Ave. NW, new “canine boutique salon” Fido & Stitch gears up for its own grand opening later next month in suite 140 on the building’s ground floor. 

The retail portion of the 1,500-square-foot space will feature a boutique shop for specialty brands of dog food and accessories, while the salon will feature one on-site professional groomer alongside a separate self-service dog wash, where Fido & Stitch Co-Owner Alli McDonough says everything from shampoos and conditioners to towels and dryers will be provided for owners who want to bring their pups in for a wash. 

“You’ll be able to go there and find anything you need for your dog. It’s like a big box store, but with us there are more specialty brands and different options,” says McDonough, who co-owns Fido & Stitch with her husband Joe. “It’s more luxury items, but definitely not bank-breaking…I’m a big advocate for treating your dog how you’d want to be treated.”

McDonough, a Grand Rapids native, had the idea to open Fido & Stitch while finishing her MBA at Davenport University, drawing inspiration from the abundance of similarly boutique-style dog stores she used to frequent while living in Chicago. 

Though she says she looked at retail spaces in Eastown and Creston neighborhoods, the space at 820 Monroe Ave. NW seemed like the perfect positioning for Fido & Stitch to tap into a previously untapped market, conveniently located in the same building as 85 one- and two-bedroom apartment units. 

“It all happened pretty quickly,” she says, “A lot of it, I think, due to my excitement and ambition to get this open.” 

McDonough says they expect to hold a grand opening event mid- to late November, but plan to announce the official date on the Fido & Stitch Facebook page soon. 

By Anya Zentmeyer, Development News Editor
Images courtesy of Fido & Stitch

Related articles:
Planned renovation of 820 Monroe NW into apartments, retails could generate $1.7M in annual spending
 

Grand Coney begins renovations on third diner location on 28th St. and Madison

Diner-style restaurant Grand Coney is waiting on the city of Grand Rapids to approve building permits for renovations at 401 28th Street SE and Madison St., with plans to house its third location in the 1,800-square-foot building shortly after the new year.

Jeff Lobdell is president of Restaurant Partners, Inc., which owns Grand Coney alongside 13 other West Michigan restaurants. He says the former Sunrise Family Restaurant building is located on a busy intersection with a high-density population within its two-mile radius; in other words, perfect for the Grand Coney brand. 

“We like high-traffic, high-density locations,” says Lobdell, whose Restaurant Partners, Inc. purchased the property over a year ago. “We like places where there are a lot of cars because the Grand Coney diner is a very convenient concept. If you’re hungry you can get in and get out pretty quick, but still have a nice sit-down meal.” 

Grand Coney’s third location at 401 28th Street SE will create 15-20 full-time jobs, with an additional 15-20 part-time positions. Lobdell says he’s already hired a few managers who are currently undergoing training at the downtown Grand Rapids location, but plans on making more hires in the coming months as renovations draw closer to completion. 

Grand Coney’s flagship 24-7 location first opened in 2004 at 809 Michigan St., followed in 2008 by its second Allendale location near Grand Valley State University on Lake Michigan Drive.

Lobdell says initially, the 28th Street location will only offer 24-7 service on Thursday-Saturday to gauge interest there for an all-night diner, operating under normal hours from Sunday-Wednesday.

“I think that this Grand Coney diner restaurant has been very well received in Grand Rapids on Michigan Street and also in Allendale, so based on how well the guests have liked it and how well the restaurants are doing, we decided to open one here at 28th and Madison in that neighborhood and we will be actively looking for additional sites.” 

For more information about the official opening date for the new location, or to learn how to apply for available jobs there, visit www.grandconeygr.com or find Grand Coney on Facebook.

By Anya Zentmeyer, Development News Editor
Images courtesy of Restaurant Partners, Inc. 

The Right Place, Inc. celebrates 30th anniversary with local music, business leaders

Vice President of Marketing Tim Mroz still remembers the first big economic development project The Right Place, Inc. undertook back in 1990, when the organization helped to facilitate $20 million worth of investment alongside the creation of 200 new jobs at the Comstock Park company formerly named Behr Industries, now known as NBHX Trim

“I think it really solidified to the public what The Right Place does and what we were able to accomplish as an organization,” says Mroz, adding that additionally the project proved how effective the concept of economic development could be in having a major impact on West Michigan’s long-term economy. 

Next week, Mroz will join a few hundred others at the Amway headquarters in Ada to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the regional economic development organization. The sold-out event kicking off with a performance by indie-rock/soul musicians Vox Vidorra before a few remarks from Gov. Rick Snyder and other West Michigan business leaders such as Doug DeVos, Dave VanAndel, and TRP board chair/Spectrum Health CEO Richard Breon, 

“We truly want to provide a night where the business community and The Right Place can come together and celebrate 30 years of economic development, job creation, and investment in West Michigan,” Mroz says. 

Mroz says in the past 30 years, the organization has helped foster $4 billion of investment and 40,000 new jobs, recently driving forward more regional initiatives throughout West Michigan in Newaygo, Montcalm, Ionia, and Lake counties, to name a few. 

In 2012, TRP worked with Gov. Snyder’s administration to form a “13-county West Michigan prosperity region,” which now into its fourth year has worked with counties on initiatives that range from workforce development to industrial infrastructure. 

“We’ve been really working to push economic growth and job creation outside just Kent County to make sure there are opportunities throughout West Michigan.”

To learn more about TRP, visit www.rightplace.org. 

Written by Anya Zentmeyer, Development News Editor
Images courtesy of The Right Place, Inc. 

New restaurant concept IRON to open at 25 Ottawa this holiday season

Grand Rapids developers Franklin Partners, LLC announced the addition of a new restaurant to the ground floor of its 25 Ottawa building last week. 

IRON, a concept restaurant by award-winning chef Chris Perkey, is expected to open in the space during the holiday season with a “modern Midwestern-themed menu” based on seasonal produce and regional proteins, paired with hand-picked wines and craft cocktails.

“The IRON concept paired with the atmosphere and location of 25 Ottawa is off-the-charts, and I can’t wait to get in the kitchen and create,” says Perkey, whose Osteria Rossa was named 2015 Best New Restaurant by Grand Rapids Magazine. 

Franklin Partners’ Director of Marketing Julie Maue says renovations at 25 Ottawa are designed to reduce the footprints of previous failed restaurant concepts in the 5,000-square-foot space. The intimate interior will be custom designed to strip the space back to its original architecture with exposed brick, distressed wood, and kitchen-view seating. 

“As we began walking people through 25 Ottawa, it became clear that they mainly knew the building based on the revolving door of unsuccessful restaurant concepts,” Maue says. “We had to recast public perception, and by engaging the public, many of the design decisions and how the building was repositioned was based on their feedback.”

IRON is expected to open during the upcoming holiday season. For more information, visit www.IRONGR.com. 

Written by Anya Zentmeyer, Development News Editor
Images courtesy of Franklin Partners, LLC

Bold Socks plans Nov. pop-up shop in advance of spring opening for new S. Division retail space

This holiday season, Bold Socks wants you to live boldly.

This new S. Division retailer is hoping to make your steps matter more with a November pop-up shop that will give customers a taste of its distinct and unique merchandise — top-notch socks. 

Formerly an online-only retailer, Bold Socks began five years ago as a competition between co-workers who, at the time, worked on staff at Gordon Food Services. 

“It turned into this idea that there wasn’t enough selling of socks online and no one was bringing the best brands together,” says Ryan Roff, co-owner and director of creative and marketing. “The opportunity was identified to try to start our own website, and it grew from $3,000 in sales the first year to $180,000 the next year and it’s just taken off since then.”

Though eventually Bold Socks owners will make17 S. Division its permanent physical retail space, Roff says a pop-up shop made more sense with the timeframe they’re working under, having just recently signed the lease on the 1,700-square-foot storefront.

“…to try to put that all together in a month’s time, we felt, just wasn’t worth it; but we do want to get our socks showcased and get the backbone of what our store will look like up (for the holiday season),” Roff says. 

Though Roff says big-box retailers like Target are more recently selling similarly expressive sock fashions, he’s not worried about the competition. Not only does Bold Socks hold a unique niche in the market as one of very few exclusive retailers for statement-making socks, its parent company Bold Endeavors also has two of its own brands sold through boldsocks.com — the basic Bold Socks label compromised primarily of solid color socks, and a second private label called Statement Sockwear, which reaches beyond just revenue in its mission. 

“Your purchase goes so much further than just buying a pair of socks,” Roff says. “With our socks, you’re able to contribute 100 days of clean water with each pair you purchase.” 

To date, Bold Socks has been able to contribute 2.5 million days of clean water to African villages by way of its partner organization 20 Liters, which focuses not only on bringing clean water to specific communities, but also on helping those communities build their own sustainable infrastructure by spearheading new partnerships between business owners and churches in the area and making sure community leaders are properly trained to continue a slow but steady trend of economic growth. 

“The social enterprise business model is something we believe really strongly in; in fact, we believe all companies should consider a social enterprise model if they have that opportunity,” he says, adding that they liked the idea of being a part of helping to build sustainable systems versus just donating money to a charity. 

After its scheduled grand opening this spring, Bold Socks’ new 17 S. Division space will give owners approximately 1,000 square feet for inventory with the remaining 700 allocated to retail space. 

He says he and CEO Ryan Preisner, alongside business partners Dan Manshaem and Adam Whitmore, are looking forward to not only consolidating operations from their respective basements, but also to new opportunities to get involved in the community and be a part of South Division’s renaissance, so to speak. 

“I think there’s a lot of opportunity here. Not only is it extremely central to Grand Rapids – I think that corner is something people think of as iconic to the essential downtown area — but there’s an opportunity to participate in the community,” says Roff, adding that choosing a location based on sales demographic alone does little to foster the diversity of brand when you compare it to actual engagement. 

“We believe strongly in the growth of Grand Rapids and I think in order to attract people that actually want to walk around and be in downtown as part of a retail sector, it requires businesses like ours that are unique and offer a one-of-a-kind experience to be able to continue to progress that area downtown.” 

To check out Bold Socks’ full inventory online, visit Bold Socks online or find Bold Socks on Facebook for more updates on its November pop-up shop and spring grand opening. 

By Anya Zentmeyer, Development News Editor
Images courtesy of Bold Socks Endeavors

Dead Solez brings new life to rare sports sneakers phenomena in downtown GR

Riding on the wave of growing national interest in high-end and luxury sports footwear, Dead Solez has opened for business at 53 Monroe Center St. with a focus on both sales and trade-ins for high-end, luxury athletic brand sneakers.

At Dead Solez, customers can shop the curated selection of rare discontinued styles like the Air Jordan 11, Nike Foamposite, and Jordan 1 Collaborations, or bring in their own rare sneakers to trade in for cash or new kicks after passing an evaluation by one of two resident “sneaker experts” on staff there. 

“We’re really excited to set up shop right in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids with heavy foot traffic, easy access, terrific customers and near other great boutique stores,” says co-owner Angelo Martinez.

Dead Solez also sells and accepts trades for similarly high-end brands of baseball caps such as New Era hats. 

Originally started earlier this year by Tim Datema inside Capz on Rackz in Comstock Park, the rapid growth and popularity of the service prompted Dead Solez to move into its own downtown location.

Chris Prins, associate with Colliers International who helped broker Dead Solez’s three-year lease on the 1,200-square-foot space, says Dead Solez offers something different to the growing boutique retail market in Grand Rapids’ downtown core. 

“I think it’s something that the specific downtown market hasn’t seen yet,” Prins says. “Dead Solez sells to a customer base that’s already down here so it’s an easier commute, you get a lot of foot traffic up and down that corridor and they’re kind of exclusive in terms of what they sell and what the brand is.”

For more information, visit Dead Solez online or find them here on Facebook. 

By Anya Zentmeyer, Development News Editor
Images courtesy of Dead Solez

Switchback Gear Exchange opens on Plainfield Ave. with community-focused mission

For the owners of Switchback Gear Exchange, located at 2166 Plainfield Ave. NW in the Creston-Cheshire district, the enterprise is as much about building a business as it about building a community. 

“We have always tried to use Switchback as a means to improve our community,” says co-owner Rachel Posthumus, who initially started Switchback about five years ago in Marquette, Mich. with her husband Mike until life brought them  back down to their hometown of Grand Rapids. 

Specializing in second-hand outdoor recreation equipment, Switchback opened its 1,000-square-foot space in May. It has since added an additional 1,000 square feet for a new full-service bicycle repair shop, paying homage to residents who came in to share nostalgia about the Swchinn retailer that used to reside across the street. 

“A lot of our sellers were coming in and being nostalgic about buying their family bikes,” Posthumus says. “…we had full leeway to make the space exactly the way we needed it to be, and we just kind of dove in.” 

A general contractor by trade, Posthumus says renovations were tailored to their specific vision. The couple restored the original tin ceilings and hardwood floors to bring the space back to life just in time for its Give Gear program, which they established as a way for local residents with extra gear to donate gear on behalf of a nonprofit for two months out of the year. 

This month all donations, aside from the small percentage they use for overhead and operational costs, will go directly to nonprofits including Blindfold Nature Center, Grand Rapids Public Museum, West Michigan Humane Society, American Cancer Society, CA Frost Environmental School, and Forest Hills Eastern Middle School, though Switchback is facilitating separate fundraising efforts for the last two schools that run alongside the Give Gear month. 
 
“It’s just been so cool to hear about all of the other things happening down the Plainfield Corridor between us and Leonard St. We are really glad we got to be on the ground floor of all of the redevelopment that is happening,” she says. “…we have seen a huge resurgence of people moving back to our neighborhood and we’re excited to see the positive momentum building and excited by the fact we got to be the early adopters.”

“I am excited that with living here, I will be able to ride my bike or walk to a place I would want to go to on a regular basis. It’s like downtown living outside of downtown,” she says. “I feel very proud of that in terms of participating as a business and having access to all of these cool things as a person who lives here.” 

For more information, visit www.goswitchback.com. 

Written by Anya Zentmeyer, Development News Editor
Images courtesy of Switchback Gear Exchange 
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