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Growing Cinematic Arts college a picture perfect fit for former UICA space in downtown Grand Rapids

Leaders of the Compass College of Cinematic Arts say that its student population has tripled and with that growth comes the need for more space and a location central to Grand Rapids' downtown. On Dec. 8, the college cut a filmstrip "ribbon" to mark the opening of its new location at 41 Sheldon Blvd. SE, the former home of the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts.

The college, previously at Fifth St. NW and Seward Avenue, is excited to have a space with a dedicated film theater already in place, says Admissions Director Tom Lowe.

"Our new location has a sound stage and a 175-seat theater as options for students to be able to create and show their films," Lowe says. "Our school is a media arts training college where students learn to be directors, writers, screenwriters, animators and do jobs behind the camera. They're not just confined to [creating for] the big screen, but for anything today that would be video-centric."

The college has 50 students this year, ranging in age from recent high school graduates to adults in their forties. Lowe says the school, formerly called Compass Film Academy, gained accreditation in 2010. Successful completion of its 60-credit-hour course gains students a bachelor of arts in motion picture arts and sciences.

The school shares the main level with the offices of ArtPrize, and also occupies the entire lower level. Three classrooms, a computer lab, plus student and faculty lounges round out the facility.

Lowe says students have had a hand in several successful commercial projects including 30 Minutes or Less, a movie shot in Grand Rapids; Avatar; CSI Miami; Fast and Furious; Marmaduke; and a Disney remake of Return to Oz, in production now.

Source: Tom Lowe, Compass College of Cinematic Arts
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Development of Grand Rapids' proposed new urban park moves forward after $300K DEQ grant

A $300,000 Michigan Department of Environmental Quality grant will be in hand once the City of Grand Rapids Parks and Recreation Department secures another $320,000 in funding, and parks director Jay Steffen is confident it's going to happen. The funding is to finance a brand new urban park on the city's southeast side at 620 Pleasant St. SE, on the corner of Pleasant and Madison.

Pleasant Park is now a forlorn surface parking lot, once used for the Kent County Department of Human Services, which relocated to 121 Franklin St. SE in December 2009. The 2.3-acre parcel will become the only park within walking distance of the surrounding South Hill neighborhood and will include a universally accessible playground with a rubberized tile surface, paved walking paths, a small sledding hill, native plantings, new trees and a rain garden.

"We've designed the park through neighborhood consensus," Steffen says. "We held a design charrette and about 100 people participated. This is truly an area that is underserved, with less than one acre of parkland per one thousand people. It's also an area of the city very densely populated, with between six and 20 people per acre."

Steffen cites the city's goal to have a park within walking distance of every city resident, and says Pleasant Park will help the city move closer to realizing that goal.

"The National Recreation and Park Association recommends 12 to 15 acres [of parkland] per thousand people," Steffen says. "I think it's significant that the city has about 7.88 acres per thousand population. The city is 97 percent built out, so the ability to add park acreage is difficult and being able to add another two acres is quite significant."

The park must be completed sometime in 2014 to receive the grant funding, and must have the matching $320,000 in place, says Steffen. The City of Grand Rapids has offered an additional $112,000 in Community Development Block Grant funding. The total cost of the development and construction is estimated at $731,000, Steffen says.

Source: Jay Steffen, City of Grand Rapids Parks and Recreation Department
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

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Old World Olive Press Opens in Flat Iron Building

Foodies take note! A store that specializes in olive oils and balsamic vinegars celebrates its Grand Opening this Friday Dec. 16, in the newly renovated Flat Iron Building at the corner of Monroe Center and Ottawa. The store joins a bevy of retailers that have decided to jump into the mix of the burgeoning downtown retail scene.

Old World Olive Press opened its first store in Rockford in 2009. From there, owners Shasta Fase and husband Cory DeLong have grown the business to four locations, including the tony Birmingham and Plymouth areas of Southeast Michigan. 

According to Shasta, "What sets us apart from other olive oil vendors is the freshness, and the fact that we really drive home the nutritional value of olive oil. This store is a one of a kind [even compared to our other stores], because it will provide a test kitchen that will feature local chefs that will help educate the public on the value of consuming fresh olive oil."

Old World Olive Press has a selection of olive oils, some with polyphenol counts as high as 700, which to foodies or nutritionists equals healthy eating.

The store carries 50 different varieties of extra virgin oils and balsamic vinegars, available in a variety of quantities like 375 ml bottles and gift sets with smaller quantities. 

If you're interested in learning more or visiting Old World Olive Press, they have a grand opening Friday Dec. 16 at Noon, or you can get updates at their Facebook page.

Corazon's Mexican food with a modern twist spices up Grand Rapids' S. Division

If you're craving wet burritos smothered in canned gravy or enchiladas swimming in premade sauce, don't go to Corazon. The restaurant, a new addition to the business community along Grand Rapids' S. Division Ave., aims to lure customers with a selection of house-made salsas and pico de gallo, fresh soups, beef brisket tacos and vegetarian entrées.

Owners Andy Serba and Ryan Burns opened Corazon last month in the former Pikositos location (122 S. Division Ave.).

"This is Mexican with a modern twist," says Andy Serba. "Everything is fresh-to-order. We add a twist to vegetarian options like tofu, a mojo pepper and onion mixture, and a mushroom-poblano pepper-pesto mix."

The fall seasonal menu features an unusual flavor blend of pumpkin mole beef brisket on a soft tortilla with pico de gallo. Serba says pairing this entrée with the restaurant's delicious butternut squash bisque is a win/win.

Meat and non-meat burritos are on the menu, and Serba says creating a signature wet sauce is a process yet to be taste-tested. "We have a soup of the day that's a Brazilian feijoada stew with chorizo, chicken [and] braised beef slow roasted with black beans, veggies and spices. We're thinking about working that into a sauce for wet burritos."

Serba and Burns also operate their two-year-old catering business, Afternoon Delight Catering, out of the restaurant. Serba says the catering aspect will help them float the restaurant financially until it builds up a customer following.

Corazon is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Source: Andy Serba, Corazon and Afternoon Delight
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Clark Communications, Media Place Partners join growing community on Grand Rapids' S. Division

Inside the new digs of Clark Communications and Media Place Partners, warm-hued woods, aged brick walls and natural daylight streaming through glass curtain walls greet visitors. An old industrial wood and metal staircase leads from 131 S. Division Ave. (Grand Rapids) down to the lower level space, where the rear entry opens to a lobby facing an alley on the east.

"It's kind of a different set-up," says Clark Communications owner Craig Clark with a smile, motioning to both entries.

Clark and Dave Kettler, owner of Media Place Partners, moved their shops from separate locations on Monroe Center to the 1,900-square-foot space so both firms could have a room for growth and collaboration.

"Media Place Partners continues to grow and I wanted more room to do so," Kettler says. "I see this area as an up-and-coming part of town and found a very nice space here that fits our needs while not breaking the bank."

Between the two firms, eight employees will occupy the space -- three from Clark Communications and five from Media Place Partners. All the furniture is mobile, and some of it does double-duty, like the metal shelves with white-board backs -- the white-board side forms a wall of the conference area, the shelving side forms a storage wall in Clark's office.

"I have felt a real pull to the Heartside neighborhood," Clark says. "I've always enjoyed the eclectic, creative, collaborative energy. I also have a heart for the Heartside individuals we see walking up and down the street. I see the struggle on their faces. Behind that, there are real people."

Clark plans to foster his desire to help others by contributing 10 percent of Clark Communications' revenue to nearby nonprofits Mel Trotter Ministries, Degagé Ministries, Heartside Ministry and Guiding Light Mission to help individuals who have, or who want to, start their own businesses.

"For example, Guiding Light has men going in and out of there. Some are ready to reemerge. Do they have an entrepreneurial spirit, can we help them with that?" Clark says. "Right now, we're trying to identify those people and develop relationships and see what comes from that."

Source: Craig Clark, Clark Communications; Dave Kettler, Media Place Partners
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Grand Rapids' Doorganics puts down roots, adds new healthy food options

After operating out of several temporary locations since its launch in July, organic produce home delivery company Doorganics has finally put down roots in a more permanent facility.

The new 3,000-square-foot home at 353 Fuller Ave. NE provides Doorganics with enough space for future growth as well as a 12-ft. by 12-ft. walk-in refrigerator that can be expanded to 12-ft. by 20-ft., if needed.

"When we launched in July, all our produce was in season," says owner Mike Hughes. "The farm would pick [the produce] in the morning, we'd pick it up at noon and put it in delivery bins that day. Now that we're out of the Michigan growing season, Ingraberg Farm is sourcing our produce from all over the country and we need to refrigerate it when it comes in."

Doorganics began with 20 deliveries per week and is now making 180 deliveries per week. Hughes expects even more growth as new programs roll out.

Beginning Jan. 1, 2012, Doorganics will make deliveries to Metro Health so employees who purchase from Doorganics can pick up their produce in one central location.

In addition, all customers will be able to place add-on orders for non-produce items including:
•    Baked goods from Ninth Bridge Market, Ada
•    Meats from Crane Dance Farm, Middleville
•    Natural chicken and raw honey from Back to Basic Living Farm, Cadillac
•    Coffee from Swiss Mountain Coffee, Comstock Park

Ordering the add-on products goes live on a new Doorganics website in mid-December.

"We bring the farmers market to people who don't have the time to go," Hughes says. "And we think that being so close to the Fulton Street Farmers Market will make it easier for our farmers to deliver to us."

Source: Mike Hughes, Doorganics
Writer, Photography: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

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New Grand River Cigar introduces cigar lounge to Grand Rapids

With its leather chairs, a walk-in humidor and hundreds of cigars, Grand River Cigar could be West Michigan's first classic cigar lounge. With an eye to creating an atmosphere where cigar enthusiasts can relax and enjoy a good smoke, owners Robin and Tina Day and Charlie Rossi hope to give cigar enthusiasts a unique experience in one of the few public places where smoking is legal.

"Charlie and I used to hang out and have a drink and a cigar and talk about our woes," says Robin Day. "When the law changed and you couldn't smoke in public, we decided to open our own cigar store."

Day has spent the past 25 years working for retail giants Lowe's, Michael's and Jo-Ann Fabrics, but says this is his first foray as an entrepreneur.

The focal point of the shop (131 S. Division Avenue, Grand Rapids) is the walk-in humidor -- a 16-ft. wide by 8.5-ft. deep by 9-ft. tall state-of-the-art cigar vault -- which sports an all-mahogany exterior case and a Spanish cedar interior. Day says the special cedar not only absorbs excess moisture, but releases it into the humidor when needed to keep the cigars perfect.

"We have 20 different cigar brands coming in, including Arturo Fuente, Ashton, Avo, Camacho, Montecristo, Gurkha and H. Upmann," says Day. "Most of the cigars we carry are hand rolled. The differences between them are like the differences between wines -- each cigar has a different flavor based on the climate and soil where the tobacco is grown."

Folks can enjoy a soft drink or coffee, catch a television show, peruse a periodical or tap into the worldwide web while at the shop, or simply listen to the selection of jazz from the '30s, '40s and '50s compiled by Vertigo Music, located next door.

Cigar aficionados can also rent a cigar locker where they can store their cigars in a climate-controlled environment.

Store hours: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Mon. - Sat.

Source: Robin Day, Grand River Cigar
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Allegro Coaching to open fitness studio in Eastown's reopened Kingsley Building, Grand Rapids

Kendra Bylsma spent the last three years building her fitness coaching business, all the while saving money to open her own studio someday. That "someday" comes in early January 2012 when she'll open the doors to a new 2,500-square-foot fitness center in the newly reopened Kingsley Building, a former warehouse in Grand Rapids' Eastown.

Allegro Coaching, a home-based business that operates onsite fitness programs for area corporations and public fitness sessions in local parks, will continue those programs. But Bylsma says the new studio, a renovated retail bay at 1422 Robinson Rd., adds another element for clients.

"I want it to feel warm and comfortable, not like a big gym with bulky equipment," Bylsma says. So she hired Sapak Interiors to design it using warm woods and cabinetry divided among spaces that include conversation areas and open workout rooms. DeGraaf Interiors is handling the installation, with the buildout by Bazzani Associates.

"We'll have a shake bar that offers Shakeology nutritional shakes, so people can sit down after their workout and meet with friends," Bylsma says. "I want that space to really feel like a conversational space to hang out in."

Bylsma will invest some $35,000 in the studio, which will offer several fitness and personal coaching plans including an Urban Boot Camp and an Urban Class Pass. The boot camp offers and eight-week class where participants can choose to work out once a week ($79), twice a week ($149), or more ($199). The class pass offers eight weeks with a choice of fitness regimens: boxing training, Pilates-based training or TRX suspension training.

"Our first core value is to have fun," Bylsma says. "I think of the Allegro Coaching studio as a mesh between a fun little boutique and the culture of fitness."

Bylsma plans to hire more fitness coaches, but will open the studio with herself and one additional coach on staff. Classes begin Jan. 8, 2012.

Source: Kendra Bylsma, Allegro Coaching; Jen Huizenga, J Studio Designs
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

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LINC incubator launches with six new businesses in Grand Rapids' Madison Square

Six new businesses opened their doors on Friday, Nov. 11 in Grand Rapids' Madison Square business district, the first step in an economic development push by Grand Rapids-based LINC Community Revitalization, Inc. to help entrepreneurs launch local businesses and create jobs.

The businesses are all part of a new business incubator, the LINC Business Center, formerly C & J Plaza, an abandoned, ramshackle building at 1258 Madison Ave. SE. The shops range from 400 square feet to 1,000 square feet, all available at reduced rates to give entrepreneurs a leg up. The business owners enter a three-year business development program that will equip them with the knowledge to keep the business running, including legal advice, payroll processing, accounting, business plan development, networking skills and mastering social media.

"I wasn't sure if we'd have enough businesses that qualified, but for these six spaces, we had over 20 applicants," says LINC Economic Development Director Jorge Gonzalez. Gonzalez says LINC reviewed each business plan to determine if the business was ready to move forward and could be sustainable.

"We want them to be able to get their own space in the community at market rate by the end of the three years," he says. "If they're ready earlier, we'll help them move out earlier."

The businesses are:
Epic Emporium, art gallery and gift shop featuring local artists
Klipper Kingdom, barber shop.
Southtown Guitar, offering guitars and guitar lessons
RaiderTek, computer repair
Sydney’s Boutique, women's apparel.
WYGR 1530 AM, radio broadcasting studio.

Gonzalez says there are four spaces still available. Lease rates begin at $200/month, depending on the shop size and location within the building.

Source: Jorge Gonzalez, LINC Community Revitalization, Inc.
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

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Under The Vines uncorks Michigan organic wines, hard ciders in new Grand Rapids tasting room

A new wine and hard cider tasting room in Grand Rapids' Cherry Hill business district will soon uncork some of Michigan's fruits of the vine for patrons to sample. Under The Vines (959 Cherry St. SE) aims to introduce customers to organic fruit wines and hard ciders produced in the Leelanau Peninsula by Good Neighbor Organic Vineyard and Winery.

Besides the tasting room, the 1,100-square-foot boutique will carry wine and hard ciders by the bottle, plus a host of wine-friendly gift items, including glassware, wine glass charms, picnic baskets and create-your-own gift basket options. Under The Vines will also offer its own coffee line.

"We will sell food items that pair well with wine," says shop owner Sandra Kidner Otte. "We'll have Awesome Chocolates, and I'm looking into offering cherry food items from the Traverse City area and a selection of cheeses. We'll offer six or seven different types of wines and hard ciders, including chocolate cherry, apple and mixed berry, plus we'll carry iced dessert wine."

Otte and her husband, artist David Otte, spent a lot of time over the last two years selecting a site for the store. Sandra Kidner Otte says they'd ride their bicycles from their Wyoming home into Grand Rapids' neighborhood business districts where they'd chat with shoppers and shop owners to get a feel for each area. Once selected, Otte says she quit her job as a special education teacher at Kalamazoo's Paramount Charter Academy to start Under The Vines.

"I love Grand Rapids and I just love this neighborhood," Otte says. "I believe in Michigan, and I tell people when they say they're leaving 'don't turn the lights out because I'm still here.'"

Otte hopes to have the retail side of the shop open by Nov. 21, and will offer the wines and hard ciders as soon as the state approves the liquor license. Store hours will be 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Mon. through Sat.

Source: Sandra Kidner Otte, Under The Vines
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Tiny Chai Boutique in downtown Grand Rapids bursts with new, vintage fashions, jewelry

It's not much bigger than a walk-in closet, but Sarah Ables aims to have Chai Boutique become a women's go-to store for more than just the fashions and jewelry that adorn the glass walls and vintage tables.

At just under 200 square feet in downtown's new Shops at Monroe Center and Division (MoDiv, 40 Monroe Center), Chai Boutique also offers vintage painted furniture finds, gift items, hair accessories and more. Surrounded by glass walls that let in daylight and allow shoppers to see through to nearby shops, Chai Boutique feels open, yet cozy.

Ables launched the business in February in a 900-square-foot space at 1120 Knapp St. NE, but struggled with having to order merchandise just to fill the racks. In the smaller MoDiv space, Ables says she can order very small quantities of items, which allows her to keep the store new and fresh as items sell and new merchandise arrives.

"I only buy about six of any clothing item, then when it's gone I order something new so I don't have everybody walking around Grand Rapids wearing the same thing," Ables says. "And I have budget-friendly prices; I don't have what people usually think of as boutique prices."

Ables offers a number of locally crafted items, such as Britteny Young's magnets and coasters decorated with illustrations from vintage books, and jewelry that combines new and vintage pieces collected and re-set by mother/daughter team Dawn Orr and Jen Bumstead.

"I'm loving the concept of MoDiv and that I have a smaller space," says Ables, who spent 12 years as a visual merchandiser for Art Van and sold her own painted antique furniture at Blue Door Home Design. "It was my dream to own a shop for as long as I can remember. I'd like to grow it right downtown where we are and grow the MoDiv location."

Hours: Mon., Weds., Fri., Sat. 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Tues., Thurs., 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Source: Sarah Ables, Chai Boutique
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Fusionary revamps Hopson Flats' game room into an upscale HQ on Grand Rapids' SW side

Steve and Bryan Lewis unintentionally wore identical shirts to work on Monday -- part of an identical-twin-mind-link the brothers share. That connection is what stirred them to found Fusionary Media in 1995. They brought on a third partner, Jack Baty, and now the 13-person multi-media corporation has moved into a newly renovated urban loft at 220 Grandville Ave. SW, Grand Rapids.

The new digs used to be the game room at Hopson Flats, a student housing building next door. The game room was underused, so Fusionary jumped at the opportunity to renovate it to fit its employees' collaborative work style and moved from 820 Monroe North last Friday.

"We added a horseshoe shaped mezzanine along three walls which has three private offices, a catwalk, and a secondary meeting space with a Steelcase Walkstation, seating area and a TV," says Steve Lewis. "We also installed a spiral staircase, which will soon have a slide that wraps the outside edge of the staircase."

The mezzanine overlooks an open main floor work area with a combination of individual workspaces and a comfy media area with a projector for team collaborations and meetings. The layout includes a glass-walled conference room and a full kitchen/cafeteria space for employees.

Lewis says the huge projection screen, televisions and Apple TV will make it easy to present work to clients. He says the space also provides enough room to host web developers groups and other events.

"We looked at probably 30 different spaces," Lewis says, "and this side of town has done what we thought the north side of town would do. We gave up free parking, but there's so much more energy here being right across from Founders and next door to The Rapid. I think this new space is revitalizing us."

Design: Fuller Design
Construction management: Fusion Properties

Source: Steve Lewis, Fusionary
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor
Photos: Jack Baty

Smitty's Specialty Beverage rebuilds, nearly doubles craft beer offerings in Grand Rapids' Eastown

The term "Closed for Remodeling" took on new meaning in September when Smitty's Specialty Beverage locked its doors for the demolition of all but the two front walls of its building. But come about Nov. 11, an all-new Smitty's (1489 Lake Dr. SE) will reopen for business with more than twice the store space within the same footprint.

Founder Joel "Smitty" Smitter, who owns the business with son Jared Smitter, says the previous 900-square-foot store was a retail expansion added in 1920 to the front of an 1890s house. Smitter has owned the building since 1982. The house, which served as storage/office/warehouse space, and all but the two walls along Lake Dr. and Hampton SE, were demolished and replaced with a 2,000-square-foot modern store.

"The house foundation was 3.5 feet above the store floor so we had four steps to go up and down," Smitter says. "Now everything is on one level and we have a monster walk-in beer den cooler for the customer to shop in, which will have 400 craft style beers."

Smitter says the craft beer offerings will include every craft beer made in Michigan, hiking the selection from the previous 250 beers to 400.

Other changes include a nine-door cooler for juices, sodas and dairy products, and moving all the liquor fifths and half-gallons from behind the counter to the sales floor. "(The liquor section) will wrap around the front and west walls," he says. "You'll be amazed at our selection because you could never see it before."

Smitter says he's also going to offer fresh produce, as per customer request. If he can sell enough to break even after six months, he'll continue offering it.

Bamboo flooring, cherry laminate and granite countertops round out the new look. Upstairs, a new two-bedroom, two-bath condominium is under construction, where Smitter will live.

Smitty's will have a grand re-opening celebration in early summer 2012.

Construction manager, design: Pioneer Construction.

Source: Joel "Smitty" Smitter, Smitty's Specialty Beverage
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Developers say restaurant, office tenants to occupy renovated JA Building, Grand Rapids

Thousands of people got to experience the cavernous depths of the former Junior Achievement Building in downtown Grand Rapids during the Site:Lab art installations there last April and again this fall during ArtPrize.

The wide open spaces of the iconic building (southeast corner of Fulton St. and Division Avenue), its 12- to 16-foot-high ceilings and concrete floors on all three levels, are all part of the building's appeal to Locus Development owners John Green and Andy Winkel. Green says the planned $4M renovation could bring the neighborhood new office tenants and a "locally-owned restaurant not currently in the downtown."

Green says they are in negotiations with an American food restaurant to occupy some 4,500 square feet of the 7,500-square-foot main level, but stopped short of naming names. Green says talks are also underway with a potential office tenant for 5,500 square feet of the second story, and Locus looks to fill some of the remaining 12,500 square feet, which includes an underground level, with an arts-related organization and an entertainment venue.

"This is the gateway to the Avenue for the Arts, a highly visible building that's been neglected for a number of years," Green says. "There's a lot of activity along South Division and there continues to be several buildings in redevelopment along Division. This is a critical redevelopment, being right on that corner."

"We're always thinking about improving an eyesore that's been there a long time and how to use it to leverage further development on Fulton and Division," says Winkel.

The renovation could begin in early 2012, driven by LEED sustainability guidelines. Green and Winkel envision a new streetscape and historically accurate façade repairs.

The Grand Rapids Downtown Development Authority awarded the project a $65,000 Building Reuse Incentives Program (BRIP) grant, a $35,000 Areaway Fill Incentives Program grant and about $140,000 in TIF credits.

Click here to visit the Facebook page for 2 East Fulton to weigh in on how you'd like to see the building used.

Construction manager: Pioneer Construction
Architect: TowerPinkster and Visbeen Associates

Source: John Green and Andy Winkel, Locus Development
Photographs: Nate Umstead Photography
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

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Rose Colored Glasses puts positive spin on women's, girls' resale on Grand Rapids' West Side

A building on Grand Rapids' West Side known as the "old pawn shop" is now recycling used possessions to a new crowd of customers: women and girls. Rose Colored Glasses brings fashion resale to a cozy 700-square-foot boutique at 827 W. Fulton St.

The store's tag line, "a resale shop for girls of all ages," invites shoppers into a welcoming atmosphere filled with trendy clothing and one-of-a-kind wearables in sizes ranging from girls' 14 to women's plus.

"The store's name comes from the Faulkner novel "A Rose for Emily," about an old lady who saw things only through a positive light," says owner Kathleen Wojtowicz. "So I named my daughter Emily Rose, and I thought the positive meaning of Rose Colored Glasses would be a great name for a shop for women.

"We have some vintage, some retro," she says. "I collect the fashions myself and have buyers working for me in the community, but the bulk of our clothing I buy from my customers."

Shoppers will find shoes, purses, belts, scarves, "scarves are one of our specialties," says Wojtowicz. Costume and vintage jewelry pieces include pins and necklaces of sparkling rhinestones, and even clip-on earrings.

Rose Colored Glasses offers a variety of new and upcycled items made by local artists: stained glass necklaces and wall hangings by Karen Kennedy Thoms, vintage pillowcases fashioned into unique skirts by Candice Norcross and skirts Sherie Armstrong embellishes with used neckties.

"I'm a third generation West Sider and I have a lot of interest in the growth of the West Side," says Wojtowicz. "The newer businesses coming in are taking cues from the success of Wealthy Street and other places around Grand Rapids. We want that walkability. Our forefathers had vision and wanted things to grow on the West Side, and I'm playing a very small part to make it happen."
    
Store hours: Tues. 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Weds. 11 to 3; Thurs. and Fri. 11 to 7; Sat. 11 to 5. Visit the store's website here.

Source: Kathleen Wojtowicz, Rose Colored Glasses
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor
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