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Grand Rapids CPA firm breathes new life into former Grandville Avenue factories

The building now known as 56 Grandville used to be two factories until a dozen years ago when they were connected and renovated into office space. Now, the Grand Rapids-based CPA and business consulting firm Beene Garter, which purchased the building last year and will move its 75 employees into it in May, has plans to rechristen the four-story structure with the company's name.

The purchase is the first time Beene Garter has owned its own offices since the company's founding 62 years ago.

"We advise our clients from time to time to own their own buildings," says Tom Rosenbach, managing partner. "Our lease (at 50 Monroe NW) was up the end of May, and we're committed to staying in downtown Grand Rapids, so since there was a good opportunity to buy, it made sense to do so."

According to Kent County property records, Beene Garter purchased the building for $4 million. Rosenbach says they've invested another $1.2 million in the renovation, which includes constructing conference rooms and kitchen/cafeteria space that Beene Garter will share with the building's only other tenant, Advantage Sales and Marketing, a national food broker that already occupies the upper floors. Creating the shared spaces frees up room for projected growth by Advantage, a company that employs 143 in West Michigan, Rosenbach says.

A number of Beene Garter's construction clients are handling the interior buildout.

"One of our biggest niches is construction and real estate, so we have a large client base of contractors and subcontractors," Rosenbach says. "We approached them all to see if we could get them some work, and I think we got about 90 percent of them something to do. Now we have competitors working side by side in this building -- mechanical, electrical, general contractors -- and they're all having fun."

Source: Tom Rosenbach, managing partner, Beene Garter; Craig Clark, Clark Communications
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

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Holland's growing downtown attracts an eclectic mix of new businesses

Holland's two busiest tourist seasons, Tulip Time and summertime, are just around the corner and three local businesses have seized the opportunity to pack up their shops and relocate them to the city's eclectic, and growing, downtown.

The Bag Lady Purse Store & More packed its bags at its two locations on Waverly and on Lakewood and opened at 214 College Ave. on March 1. The store offers women's handbags for all occasions, jewelry, belts and scarves.

The Wellness Spa brought its own style of pain relief and stress reduction services to the River Professional Building at River Avenue and Tenth Street. Owner Evora Borr moved from 134th Avenue to provide facial and therapeutic massage, far infrared body reshaping, ion foot cleansing and nutritional counseling to the central shopping district earlier this month.

Premovation Audio Visual will host its grand opening on April 22 after relocating its "stereo"-typical man's world of electronics -- stereos, MP3 accessories, full home automation, televisions, desktop audio systems and more -- from Ottawa Beach Rd. to 37 East 8th St.

"We have more storefronts wanting to come downtown than we have space for," says Kara de Alvare, event coordinator from the Downtown Holland Principal Shopping District. "It's a great problem to have.

"It's nice to have the spas and shops that appeal to women, those stores do well here," she says.

"But with Premovation Audio Visual, we don't have anything like that downtown, so that's new and different and will perhaps have an appeal to male shoppers. These three new stores offer a nice mix of products and services."

Source: Kara de Alvare, Downtown Holland Principal Shopping District
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Muskegon leaders say interest in entrepreneurism is on the rise, networks and classes available

Both Suzanne Velarde of the Muskegon Area Chamber of Commerce and Dave Stradal of Muskegon Community College are quick to say the evidence is anecdotal, but they and others in the lakeshore community say they have been busy fielding an increased number of inquiries about how to start a business in the region.

Some of the interest, they say, has come about since announcing the launch of the e-merge Entrepreneur Network in February, a network of organizations and business leaders ready to help entrepreneurs connect with the resources they need to be successful. The web site, www.e-mergewestmichigan.org will launch in mid-April and will feature an entrepreneur/mentor matchmaking option.

"Many people thinking about starting a business are not aware of everything that's out there for them," Velarde says. "Since we announced it, the SCORE office inside the Chamber has seen a bump up in those calls, and they have seen more people in the first quarter than at the same time a year ago."

MCC has also been busy, spending the past several months developing and piloting a core group of classes on entrepreneurism as well as a proposed new associate's degree, the Entrepreneur Associate of Applied Science, that will be offered in all 41 of its education departments.

"We wanted to carry our message to students that you can be an entrepreneur whether they're in business programs or music programs," says Stradal, entrepreneurship program coordinator and MCC's representative on the e-merge council.

Ten students are in the pilot program of the entrepreneurship core curriculum that gives students a chance to "stick their toe in the water and gauge their own skill sets," says Stradal. The curriculum helps students develop their own business idea into a business plan and strategy.

In addition, Stradal expects the college to approve the proposed degree in entrepreneurism in time for the first departments to offer it this fall.

"By working with people from the community like SCORE, the Chamber and the MI-SBTDC, the students will already have made contacts and built relationships to enhance their probability of success long before they graduate," Stradal says.

Source: Suzanne Valarde, Muskegon Area Chamber of Commerce; Dave Stradal, Muskegon Community College
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Technology Firm Trivalent Group expands into Southern Michigan

Since its beginning in 1991, Trivalent has managed to successfully expand to become one of Michigan's largest technology firms. A series of acquisitions led the company to become Trivalent Group in 2003. Now, with the acquisition of Battle Creek's Innovative Software Strategies, Trivalent enters the Southwest Michigan market as well.

"We were looking at expanding our geographic footprint and our services portfolio," CEO Larry Andrus says.  "We had a couple companies approach us, one from Ohio and one form Illinois, but we felt better about doing a Michigan-based footprint. We looked at 20 different firms, starting in November, and it was obvious as we looked that (Innovative Software) was the best fit."

Citing a recurring revenue portfolio and an array of services that allowed the two companies to compliment each other as reasons for the selection, Andrus also noted a connection with Innovative owner Amy Lenz.

"We felt very comfortable with (Lenz), who wanted to stay involved," Andrus says.

Andrus describes Trivalent as a "computer solutions service provider." Focusing only on businesses as clients, Trivalent helps these organizations manage their data, first by offering connection as an Internet service provider, then by working to back up, store, protect and provide access to that data.

"We provide access to peoples' data -- anytime, anywhere, with any device," Andrus says.

Andrus is proud of the fact that throughout all of Trivalent's acquisitions, every founder or CEO that was interested in maintaining ties with their business was brought into the Trivalent family.

"We've looked at staying true to our Michigan roots," Andrus says. "Growing here, and staying here."

Trivalent Group's other acquisitions have included companies based in Kentwood, Mt. Pleasant, Allegan, Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo. Trivalent's headquarters is located in Grandville, with offices in Mt. Pleasant, Kalamazoo and now Battle Creek. They employ 65 people and service over 1000 businesses statewide.

Source: Larry Andrus, CEO, Trivalent Group
Writer: J. Bennett Rylah, Managing Editor

Photo of Larry Andrus Courtesy of Dan Johnson Photography 

City's green transformation well underway even as Green Grand Rapids seeks final approvals

The ink hadn't even been placed on the page, let alone had time to dry, before Grand Rapids organizations and individual residents started the "green" transformation of different aspects of the city. And now, four years after planning began, Green Grand Rapids, an environmental and sustainable update to the city's 2002 Master Plan, has been approved by the Grand Rapids Planning Commission and moved to the City Commission for review at its March 22 meeting.

Green Grand Rapids wrapped up by mid-2009, says Planning Director Suzanne Schulz, but there was a lag getting it compiled into a comprehensive document because "we were busy implementing the plan. We wanted to continue the momentum that was underway."

Schulz cites several projects that are part of that momentum:
• Expansion of Joe Taylor Park spearheaded by Friends of Grand Rapids Parks.
• Proposed transformation of an unused parking lot into Pleasant Park at the corner of Madison Avenue SE and Pleasant St. SE.
Grand Rapids White Water's proposed creation of a white water kayak course on the Grand River through downtown.
• Investigation of possible new stormwater management processes headed up by the West Michigan Environmental Action Council.
• A proposed Complete Streets plan being studied and developed in conjunction with the Greater Grand Rapids Bicycle Coalition.

"If we're looking to attract the creative class, they choose where they want to live first, then worry about finding a job," Schulz says. "So the quality of life items are critically important to us, and include retention of what we already have so people who are already here want to stay here. The questions arise: where do we make the changes, when, and how? The Master Plan is the how."

Schulz says 1,800 residents participated in developing the plan, with a 30-member steering committee that kept the focus on five areas: natural systems, greening, connections, the Grand River and local food.

She expects city commissioners to approve distribution of the plan document to city and Kent County stakeholders for a final approval process that will wrap up in about five months.

Source: Suzanne Schulz, City of Grand Rapids Planning Director
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

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Lunch While You Shop at One-Stop Decor Hot Spot Alexis Designs

Now shoppers at Alexis Designs can enjoy coffee, pastries, muffins or lunch while browsing Alexis' collection of unique home accessories and furniture.

Alexis Designs in Grandville offers a cozy and relaxed atmosphere for shoppers. Its 3000-square-foot space has been intelligently filled with pieces of furniture, artwork and more, allowing for an intimate but never overwhelming experience. And for those who are looking to contemplate their home decorating decisions, the Design Café is perfect for a hot cup of coffee or a quick bite to eat.

Alexis owner Dana Rickers opened the shop this past fall. The store is a significant departure from her previous business, The Clean Source, a disaster recovery and remediation service specialization in cleaning up crime scenes, fire and water damage and other unpleasant situations. Rickers continues to do both part-time as she fosters her new business.

Meandering through the store, there's a lot to look at it, including a room that contains over 3000 different fabrics for customers to choose from. Rickers says what you see in the store is only the beginning of choices. She and her staff can customize an entire room for a client based on that client's style and pricing needs, making Alexis Designs a one-stop shop.

"We provide a product and a service unique to the Grand Rapids area," she says. "Our goal is to provide customers with a home unique to their personality."

She adds, "People want to step out of the box. They want to do something different, but they don't know how."

Rickers travels frequently, often to Chicago, to keep on top of new products, constantly researching the latest in interior design. She says Alexis works with at least 100 different vendors, looking for one-of-a-kind quality at a fair price point. Alexis is also designer-friendly and open to working with local artists and designers.

Alexis will be one of the exhibitors at the Cottage & Lakefront Living Show, March 25-27 at the Devos Place. To visit the store, head to 4187 Chicago Dr. in Grandville, near the Rainbow Grill. Store hours and more can be found on their website.

Source: Dana Rickers, Alexis Designs
Writer: J. Bennett Rylah, Managing Editor

Global traveler chooses Grand Rapids' Franklin St. for soul food eatery

Adam Kader could have helped his father, Nader Kader, open their soul food restaurant in Chicago, Jerusalem or Dubai -- all places where the family has lived and been entrepreneurs -- but they chose Franklin St. SE in Grand Rapids, instead.

Nader Kader is co-owner of Miss Tracy's Liquor Store at 1024 Franklin St. SE, a neighborhood staple in a district that has seen businesses come and go. When the Kaders opened Miss Tracy's Kitchen in November in the same building, the family wanted to keep the name and its history, says Adam Kader.

Kader, 21, manages the restaurant and cooks, a passion he developed as a young boy, then continued in the Hospitality/Culinary Program at Kent Career Technical Center and at Grand Rapids Community College.

"I have been cooking all my life and have been always trying to create something new," Kader says. "When I'm in the kitchen, it's like a high for me. Whether I'm depressed or happy, when I'm in the kitchen, I forget about everything."

Kader's menu is extensive and carries many items he created, such as the Kitchen's signature item, Miss Tracy's Burger: two grilled quarter-pound beef patties, Swiss cheese, deep fried onion rings, green onions, lettuce, tomato and Thousand Island dressing.

Other menu specialties include barbecued ribs, sub sandwiches, grilled chicken, burritos and a selection of breaded fish, including Lake Perch and catfish. Breakfast selections run the gamut, from a $2.99 meal of two eggs, toast, meat and coffee to pancakes, waffles, mackerel patties and salmon patties.

Salads and build-your-own pizza round out the offerings.

The Grand Rapids Planning Commission recently approved construction of an outdoor grill area, an opportunity Kader says he's considering.

"We can only use it four hours a day, so if we add it, we would use it during the prime hours, like between noon and four," he says.

The restaurant is open seven days: Mon., Tues., Weds. 8 a.m. to 12 a.m.; Thurs. 8 a.m. to 1 a.m.; Fri. 8 a.m. to 2 a.m.; Sat. 10 a.m. to 2 a.m.; Sun. 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Source: Adam Kader, Miss Tracy's Kitchen

Photos by Josh Tyron

Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Grand Rapids' mygrcitypoints.com aims for a greener city by engaging, rewarding residents

The City of Grand Rapids, CEOs for Cities and Local First bet a new points/rewards program will entice more residents to recycle and engage with their neighborhoods and city. The program, mygrcitypoints, launches during Earth Week.

Phase 1 focuses on rewarding residents who already recycle and on increasing the number of recycling households above the city's current 40 percent. Recyclers will receive points they can redeem at locally owned businesses for goods and services.

When the system goes live in April, residents will earn points by registering the serial number on their blue and yellow single-stream recycle bins on mygrcitypoints.com. Each time the city picks up the recycling, a bar code on the bin records it.

"You'll get points for the average rate of recycling in your neighborhood," says Local First Executive Director Elissa Hillary. "You'll be able to redeem the points through an online marketplace. For instance, you might be able to redeem points for free coffee at a coffee shop, free theater tickets or a free night at a local hotel."

Participating businesses customize their rewards, the corresponding points values, and can even cap the number of rewards available, Hillary says. Phase 1 is open to only those businesses that are Local First members. As of Tuesday, March 8, those businesses can register free.

"If we can shift one in ten dollars to locally owned businesses in Kent County, that will create $140 million in economic impact and 1,600 new jobs," Hillary says, quoting the results of a 2008 study of Kent County businesses by Civic Economics, commissioned by Local First.

"Hopefully this will benefit the businesses by getting new customers to walk in their doors," she says.

Phase II will allow residents to post or sign up for neighborhood projects such as flower planting or snow shoveling to earn points.

Phase III engages the broader community in volunteering for things like city festivals or working on a city board or commission to earn points.

Both phases are expected to launch in 2011.

Source: Elissa Hillary, Executive Director, Local First
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

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Long awaited $15M Wealthy/Jefferson development project ready to move ahead in Grand Rapids

A decade-long plan to redevelop three forlorn city blocks in south Grand Rapids into affordable housing, retail and an urban grocery store is once again rolling forward with plans to break ground before June 1.

The first construction phase of the Wealthy-Jefferson Neighborhood Initiative will spur some $15 million in mixed-use development that will bring retail, 50 apartments and a small condo project to the city block bounded by Wealthy St. (north), LaGrave Avenue (east), Sheldon Avenue (west) and Logan St. (south).

Property owner, Inner City Christian Federation (ICCF), a nonprofit affordable-housing developer, cleared the block and most of two adjoining blocks of decrepit buildings some years ago. The organization has committed to constructing two new buildings thus far, both of which will be built along Wealthy St. between Sheldon and LaGrave.

The initiative's later phases will add a 28,000-square-foot urban grocery store and more housing to the remaining properties, says Jonathan Bradford, ICCF CEO.

Negotiations with an unnamed local grocer are underway, says Bradford, adding that he's "confident that it will go through."

"About 1999, a then-city commissioner proposed the clear cutting of six whole blocks to convert them into an industrial zone," Bradford says. "Neighborhood associations, churches and ICCF fought that and stopped it. A committee studied how to recapture the diversity this neighborhood once had. In 1912, the area had 4,744 people and only about 900 people in 2000."

Bradford says a key motivator was the "resuscitation" of Wealthy St. between Division and Lafayette in 2008. That project, in essence, laid the groundwork for the rest of what is to come.
Bradford envisions an explosion of private retail investment around the Wealthy St. roundabouts.

The proposed Bus Rapid Transit system route passes the development along its north and south boundaries, providing riders with opportunities to stop off and pick up groceries or items from the retail shops, then board the next coach for home or work.

Bradford says Brownfield Authority Tax Credits are under consideration. The project's funding comes, in part, from $5.2 million awarded through the Neighborhood Stabilization Program 2, which will be taken off the table unless construction begins by June 1.

Site plan and design are by nationally renowned development designer Seth Harry of Woodbine, MD. Integrated Architecture is the architect of record for the first two buildings along Wealthy St. Progressive AE is the civil engineer.

Source: Jonathan Bradford, CEO, Inner City Christian Federation
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

City of Grand Rapids looks at "economic gardening" to sustain, strengthen small business climate

It takes more than a good business idea and hard work to grow it into a thriving enterprise. It also takes the right business climate, and that climate is what the City of Grand Rapids Economic Development Department wants to create for second-stage businesses in the city.

"Economic gardening," an economic development process touted by Governor Rick Snyder, the Small Business Association of Michigan and the Edward Lowe Foundation, helps existing businesses grow by providing them with the information they need to succeed, community partners that can help them get to the next level, and by developing a culture of growth and change.

"It's about cultivating what you already have in a community in terms of the business mix before trying to attract new business," says Economic Development Director Kara Wood. "It's a lot of what's happening in East Hills, on Wealthy Street and other places in the city where there are more small businesses. It creates a sense of place, and that's what helps us create and attract new businesses."

Wood says the city has already used state tools and incentives to keep growing businesses like Dematic and DornerWorks in the city, but "economic gardening" is also about raising awareness that Grand Rapids is a great place to start a business and be an entrepreneur.

"There will be no wrong door for entrepreneurs," she says. "All service providers will be equipped with resources to help them, so if they approach the Chamber or the SBTDC or another of our partners they'll be able to get the direction they need."

The city has reached out to a handful of its 30 service providers to-date, including Local First, the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce and Neighborhood Ventures, who have all taken leading roles in developing the initiative. Next steps are the creation of measurables for the program with the help of the Edward Lowe Foundation, and then launching the program in the next 60 to 90 days.

Source: Kara Wood, City of Grand Rapids Economic Development Director
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

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Grand Rapids' Heartside attracts another $17M in medical development

Grand Rapids' Heartside is bursting with medical development and another new $17 million project will sprout some major structural steel soon.

Directly across the street from the new $60 million Hauenstein Center at Saint Mary's, a half block from the $7 million American Cancer Society's Hope Lodge and a short walk from the soon-to-be $30 million Heart of the City Health Center, rises a 50,000-square-foot addition to the building known as 245 Cherry -- a physician-owned structure that will more than double in size.

Highpoint Real Estate & Development is developing the expansion in partnership with Saint Mary's Health Care and Advantage Health Physician Network, says Brian Sikma, a partner in Highpoint.

"This will bring into Grand Rapids more (healthcare) services that are now outside the city," Sikma says. "It's part of Saint Mary's commitment to Grand Rapids. They're creating a very nice walkable campus. Good health care and primary care is great for the community, and the investment in the Cherry Street district and what the Catholic diocese is doing at Cathedral Square is going to be really cool."

Advantage Health's Jefferson Avenue and State St. offices will move into the new structure, as well as lab services and rehabilitation services. Some of the physicians' offices in the current building will relocate and their spaces will be remodeled for new tenants, including Advantage Health's Weigh to Wellness program, which is relocating from the East Beltline soon, says Sikma.

"The building will have some of the same design elements as Advantage Health's Southwest and Caledonia offices, like the cylindrical glass lobby," Sikma says. "We'll build it using sustainable practices, but we're not going through the expense of LEED certification."

Integrated Architecture designed the addition. Elzinga & Volkers are the construction managers. Sikma expects the addition to open in February 2012.

Source: Brian Sikma, High Point Real Estate & Development
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Young entrepreneurs to open beer maker, wine maker store in Grand Rapids' Midtown

Brewing up a batch of India Pale Ale, cherry wine, hard cider or even champagne could be easier in a couple of weeks when O'Connor's Home Brew Supply opens in Grand Rapids' Midtown neighborhood.

The store (613 Lyon NE) is the first retail effort of entrepreneurs Ben and Allison O'Connor. Ben, 29, a Grand Haven native, quit his job in Raleigh, N.C. as a computer mapmaker for engineers and architects, and Allison, 28, a native North Carolinian, quit hers as a high school history teacher to move to Michigan and become part of what Ben O'Connor calls a "mini stimulus" economic solution. Setting up shop just doors from Martha's Vineyard, a favorite haunt of wine and beer connoisseurs, could be a good start.

"When I was living in North Carolina a friend told me how fun it was to brew," says O'Connor. "I went to a home brew shop and bought a starter kit and just kept getting more and more into it."

The 800-square-foot shop has a rustic feel with its painted wood floors, a functioning antique Kenmore freestanding gas stove and custom-made wood shelving. Product offerings range from starter kits for wannabe brewers of beers, wines and hard ciders to equipment and fresh barley and other grains for advanced brewers.

"We'll sell a couple of premade mash tuns for all-grain brewing, and specialty parts like valves, high-temp rubber tubing, keg systems, stirring paddles and fermenting buckets," O'Connor says.

"We wanted to do something different with our lives and we were blessed enough to be able to do it," he adds. "I was tired of hearing everyone write Michigan off as dead. I wanted to do my part and I wanted to let people know it's not over and we can get out of this rut we're in."

The O'Connors hope to open in mid-March. Their hours will be 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tues. through Fri., 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sat. and Sun.

Source: Ben O'Connor, O'Connor's Home Brew Supply
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

$500K Wealthy St. renovation to be new home of Grand Rapids' Jeffrey Richard salon

Word-of-mouth can be a powerful influence. For the owner of Jeffrey Richard Salon in Grand Rapids, it has influenced the next step in the growth of his business.

Jeffrey Richard Cipcic started the salon 11 years ago in a 1,000-square-foot space at 1033 E. Fulton St. But after repeatedly hearing from friends Rick Powell and Behnje Masson about how great it's been to move their From The Heart Yoga & Tai Chi Center and their personal residence to the Wealthy Street business district, Cipcic decided to buy and renovate a 4,400-square-foot property at 742 Wealthy St. SE.

"It was an incredibly difficult decision because I've been in love with this (Fulton St.) building and it's been a great home," says Cipcic, who lives above the salon with his partner, Marty Kiefer. "We just literally have outgrown our space. We did double shifting for the past four years, then opened Saturdays, so we've utilized every hour and every square inch of our space."

The new salon will occupy 2,200 square feet on the main floor, with the same size apartment for Cipcic and Kiefer on the second story.

Cipcic and Kiefer designed the salon with a mix of common and private spaces that incorporate warm earth tones and architectural elements such as curved walls, archways and interior windows. The salon will feature an Aveda retail store at the front and 10 styling chairs, four more than the current salon, in the guest service area.

Each room has its own lighting and audio controls so stylists can set the mood for relaxation and a "get away from it all" experience.

The salon has added two stylists in anticipation of the move and will add more in coming months.

Cipcic says he'll invest some $500,000 in the renovation and building purchase. Construction is underway and the new salon will open in April.

Source: Jeffrey Richard Cipcic, Jeffrey Richard Salon
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

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Eyewear veterans see opportunity for fashion eyewear shop in growing Grand Rapids business district

Luckily for local eyewear professionals Michael McConnell and Corey Van Duinen, not everything that happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.

"Corey and I were hanging out in Vegas, and we started talking about putting together a cool optical store," says McConnell. "He said, 'if you bring the eyewear, I'll bring the design.'"

Six months later, the idea is becoming a reality as Sight Optical Boutique opens at 924 Cherry Street SE, Grand Rapids, in the former Muse Boutique space. When the store opens in March, it will include a large selection of artist-designed eyewear that can't be found at other local eye care providers.

McConnell works in management and U.S. distribution for Hamburg Eyewear of Germany, while business partner Corey Van Duinen is the president and a designer for Grand Rapids-based optical display furnisher Illusion Optical Displays. Van Duinen was also one of the ArtPrize artists behind the Grand Rapids Children's Museum's "Imagine That!" mural.

Prices will range from about $200 to $800 for frames from brands like Hamburg, Mykita, Salt and Initium -- all recognized for their fashion-forward designs. McConnell says they will host in-store events with the brands' designers, allowing customers to connect with the artists directly.

Optician Marcie VanEss and optometrist Sarah Weeks will round out the staff, providing eyewear guidance and vision exams.

"Of course we have the medical side, but Sight is more about letting the personality come out in the frames," says McConnell. "Our staff will be very hands on, helping people discover the perfect frame."

Source: Michael McConnell, Sight Optical Boutique
Writer: Kelly Quintanilla


Michael McConnell

Muse owner opens Rock Paper Scissors Consignment Boutique in Grand Rapids' East Hills

It's out with the new and in with the old for Brynne Roberts, who closed the doors to Grand Rapids' high-end women's clothing shop Muse to open Rock Paper Scissors, a women's consignment boutique.

Rock Paper Scissors Consignment Boutique opened Feb. 1 in a 1,000-square-foot space at 145 Diamond Ave. SE, most recently occupied by Nest before the home and garden shop moved into Bluedoor on East Fulton in September.

"The space became available in the Blackport Building, which is known for socially responsible businesses," says Roberts. "I was going to do both stores, but someone came asking about the Muse space, so I thought it was a perfect opportunity to focus on this thing that I'm more passionate about."

All three Muse employees followed Roberts to Rock Paper Scissors, named to reflect the store's nostalgic and eclectic collection of women's clothing and accessories. Gently used garments are priced at least 50 percent below their original selling prices, providing customers with an accessible alternative to traditional retail and Roberts with a more sustainable business model.

"It's the way I like to shop," says Roberts. "I like the treasure hunt feel of finding the perfect thing that no one else has, and I thought that would be a fun way to do retail."

Rock Paper Scissors will hold a spring open house Apr. 14 to celebrate the opening with a sidewalk sale, giveaways and refreshments.

Source: Brynne Roberts, Rock Paper Scissors
Writer: Kelly Quintanilla

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